Aug 08, 2018

Could Chinese herbs be the key to treating vascular dementia?

There are only very limited treatments available for vascular dementia at present – but that could be about to change.

A trial of a Chinese medicine is being expanded here in Australia, and if the initial studies are anything to go by, the results could be promising.

The drug being trialled is called Sailuotong (SLT), and it contains extracts of the Chinese herbs ginkgo, saffron, and ginseng. Ginkgo is said to have antiinflammatory properties. Saffron is believed to improve learning and memory. And Ginsenoside, the active component of ginseng, improves memory function in Alzheimer’s disease.

Initial trials promising

The results of the initial clinical trial in China were promising, and indicate that SLT could be an effective treatment for vascular dementia.

The trail followed 325 people for 59-weeks. Participants were 40 years or older, had five or more years of education, and had a diagnosis of vascular dementia of mild to moderate severity. The study was conducted across 16 academic centers all over China.

Participants showed improved cognition, memory, orientation, language and executive function.

An Australian pilot also showed promising results, and now the NICM Health Research Institute is expanding its Phase III trial.

“The results of the Chinese trial are very encouraging,” said Professor Daniel Chan, clinical trial Principal Investigator and Medical Director of Aged Care and Rehabilitation at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital.

“The Phase III trials… will be able to indicate further if this is the case.”

“You try anything. If you can help anyone else, you do it.”

Arthur Sherman, has been living with vascular dementia for two years. He said the diagnosis left him feeling “degraded”.

“I thought I was on top of everything, but boy I wasn’t.”

He told 9 News, “I put my hand up for it [the trial]. You try anything. And if you can help anyone else, you do it.”

What will the trial involve?

Patients volunteering in the trial will take two capsules of SLT twice a day for 52 weeks and will attend hospital visits where their health will be monitored.

Trial needs more patients

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s. It is caused by an impaired supply of blood to the brain. People with vascular dementia experience memory loss, and speech and cognitive difficulties.

Between 15 and 20 percent of Australia’s 400,000 people living with dementia, have vascular dementia.

The researchers are encouraging people over the age of 40 who have vascular dementia to participate in the trial. To go ahead, the trial needs 226 patients; it currently only has a quarter of the number required.

If you or someone you know is interested in taking part in the clinical trial please, phone 02 4620 3578 or email

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