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Can a 700-year old Chinese medicine help treat depression and anxiety?

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:15pm

According to this, yes, it can. A recent study cited here points to the efficacy of Kami-shoyo-san in treating depression in rats. And another study (.pdf) linked to here claims this drug and another traditional Chinese medicine, Hange-koboku-to, can help treat panic, anticipatory anxiety, and agoraphobia. According to the first link:

Kami-shoyo-san consists of 10 medicinal herbs, including chai hu (柴胡, Radix Bulpleuri), bai shao (白芍, Radix Paeoniae), dang gui (當歸, Radix Angelicae Sinensis), and gan cao (甘草, Radix Glycyrrhizae), bo he (薄荷, Mentha haplocalyx), fu ling (茯苓, Poria cocos), mou dan pi (牡丹皮, Paeonia suffruticosa), 槴子 (Gardenia jasminoides), and ginger (Zingiber officinale). In Taiwan, its concentrated form was the most popular herbal drug for depression and anxiety and alike disorders. It is also a popular herbal drug to treat insomnia in Japan.

The formula first appeared in Song Dynasty (between 960 and 1279 AD.) in a TCM classic He Ji Ju (太平惠民和劑局). It was said to relieve muscular pain, dizziness, uneasiness, hot flashes, extreme sweating, insomnia, decreasing appetite and abnormal menstrual symptoms. In modern times, it has been used to treat many neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as liver diseases.

Literature shows that the formula has been shown to relieve panic attacks, anticipatory anxiety and agoraphobia. It has been used to treat irregularity of menstruation and anxiety involved with a menstrual cycle.

When used as an adjunct to carbamazepine (carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizing drug, used primarily in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. It is also used to treat schizophrenia and trigeminal neuralgia) in patients with bipolar disorders, the Kamo-shoyo-san combo treatment resulted in significantly greater clinical response rate in depressed patients. Kamo-shoy-san has proved to provide additive beneficial effects in bipolar patients, particularly for those in the depressive phase.
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