Herbal treatment trial to fight dementia

Researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital Clinical Trials Centre are urgently seeking participants for a vascular dementia trial to see if herbal medicine can help slow progression of the disease.

Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) Clinical Trials Manager, Kathy Robinson, said vascular dementia – caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain – makes up 15 to 20 per cent of all dementia cases and there is currently no treatment available.

“We believe herbal medicine will help slow the progression of the disease, and we hope the anti-inflammatory properties will improve diminished functions within the brain such as memory, judgment, reasoning, and problem solving,” Ms Robinson said.

“The treatment being tested is called Sailuotong and is a blend of ginseng, saffron and ginkgo herbs that aim to reduce inflammation in the brain.

“This trial could provide hope for patients and families if the medications continue to have positive effects.

“While we have had positive results so far, we need to continue our investigations with more participants.”

Research lead, Dr Cathy Short, said vascular dementia is the second-most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

“The risk of vascular dementia increases with age, and risk factors include untreated high-blood pressure or irregular heart rhythms, which can dislodge clots that travel to the brain and cause strokes,” Dr Short said.

“The fantastic thing about this trial is that we expect there might be fewer side effects than conventional medical treatment by using a herbal product.

“While the individual herbs are approved for sale over the counter, the doses and formulation are different from the trial medication, which is provided in capsules and taken two times a day over 12 months.

“Participants of the 12 month trial will also be offered a further 12 months of treatment following the completion of the study.”

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