Chinese herbal medicine for schizophrenia: Cochrane systematic review of randomised trials

John Rathbone*, Lan Zhang, Mingming Zhang, Jun Xia, Xiehe Liu, Yanchun Yang, Clive E. Adams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat millions of people with schizophrenia for thousands of years. Aims: To evaluate Chinese herbal medicine as a treatment for schizophrenia. Method: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Results: Seven trials were included. Most studies evaluated Chinese herbal medicine in combination with Western antipsychotic drugs; in these trials results tended to favour combination treatment compared with antipsychotic alone (Clinical Global Impression 'not improved/ worse' n=123, RR=0.19, 95% CI 0.1-0.6, NNT=6,95% CI 5-11; n=109, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale 'not improved/ worse' RR=0.78, 95% CI 0.5-1.2; n=109, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms 'not improved/worse' RR=0.87, 95% CI 0.7-1.2; n=109, Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms 'not improved/worse' RR=0.69, 95% CI 0.5-1.0, NNT=695% CI 4-162). Medium-term study attrition was significantly less for people allocated the herbal/antipsychotic mix (n=897, four RCTs, RR=0.34, 95% CI 0.2-0.7, NNT=23, 95% CI 18-43). Conclusions: Results suggest that combining Chinese herbal medicine with antipsychotics is beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-384
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


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