Trial Explores Herbal Medicine to Treat Vascular Dementia

Gingko-300x225.jpgA new trial will begin early in 2016 in Australia which will examine whether a drug developed from traditional Chinese herbal remedies may have a positive impact on treating vascular dementia. Called Sailuotong (SLT), the drug will be tested on more than 200 people. The study is funded by the drug’s developer, Shineway Pharmaceutical Group.


The goal is to test this drug on 226 patients in Australia, all of whom have either vascular dementia or a “mixed” form of dementia, in which one of the components is vascular dementia, and the other is another form of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s). Those in the study will be divided into two groups. One group will receive the drug; the other will receive a placebo. (This is typical in studies of drugs in order to better determine whether any perceived effectiveness can more readily be attributed to the drug itself rather than to any other factors.)

Another arm of the trial, involving 500 patients, will be conducted in China.


SLT is described as being derived from traditional herbs such as saffron, gingko, and ginseng. These are commonly found in many traditional Chinese medicine treatments, many dating back centuries. According to a press release, earlier pilot studies indicated that SLT helped increase blood flow to the brain and raised cognitive skills as measured by standardized tests. Blood flow to the brain is believed to be an important factor in stimulating and maintaining cognitive ability.

Typical clinical tests will be administered to determine if cognitive function has been affected by the drug in the trial. The researchers will also measure psychological wellbeing. A segment of the participants will undergo MRI brain scans to see if any physical changes can be detected which may be related to use of the SLT.

Each patient is scheduled to be enrolled for a year, and collecting and analyzing the data will take time, so results likely will not be available for a couple of years.

Many doctors are somewhat skeptical of herbal or alternative medicines, often due to lack of adequate clinical trial data. If the results of this trial are promising, hopefully further trials will confirm the anticipated effectiveness.​

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