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Dementia study to trial Chinese herbal medicine

Dementia study to trial Chinese medicine
Photo: Dementia study to trial Chinese medicine
Australians with dementia are being recruited for a trial of a Chinese herbal medicine which researchers say improves memory.

More than 200 Australians with dementia will be part of a new trial of a Chinese herbal medicine which researchers say has already shown encouraging results.

Sailuotong (SLT), a combination of ginseng, ginkgo and saffron, has been developed and tested by a team from Xiyuan Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.

The institute's Associate Professor Dennis Chang says SLT is designed for vascular dementia and mixed dementia, involving vascular and Alzheimers disease.
The trial is funded by one of China's largest herbal manufacturers, Shineway Pharmaceutical Group, Prof Chang told AAP.

Pilot studies found SLT improves the cognitive and memory impairment associated with vascular dementia, the second most common form of the condition, he said.

The Australian trial, due to start early next year, will involve 226 patients and five hospital clinics.

Participants will take two capsules twice a day for 52 weeks, but they and the clinicians won't know if their medicine is a placebo or SLT.

Standard clinical tests will be used to assess cognitive ability and psychological wellbeing, while some participants will have MRI scans to see if there are physical changes in the brain.

Another trial involving more than 500 patients will take place in China.

Prof Chang acknowledged there was always scepticism about complementary medicine.

"We are using the standard and robust medical research techologies to test this medicine."

The institute was independent and the study had been approved by the university's Human Ethics Committee and the NSW Guardianship Tribunal, he said.

People interested in the trial can email dementiatrial@westernsydney.edu.au or phone 02 46203578.

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