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Research on Chinese medicine for insomnia

Last updated: 11 March, 2017
by Steven Clavey, Traditional Chinese Gynaecology

Suanzaoren Formulae for Insomnia: Updated Clinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms.

In this 2018 review of 13 studies involving 1454 patients, the authors said “In conclusion, the findings of present study supported that Chinese herbal formulae that contain Suanzaoren (FSZR) could be an alternative treatment for insomnia in clinic. FSZR exerted sedative and hypnotic actions mainly through the GABAergic and serotonergic system.”

Front Pharmacol. 2018 Feb 9;9:76. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00076. eCollection 2018.

Zhou QH, Zhou XL, Xu MB, Jin TY, Rong PQ, Zheng GQ, Lin Y.

Insomnia disorder is a widespread and refractory disease. Semen Ziziphi Spinosae, Suanzaoren, a well-known Chinese herbal medicine, has been used for treating insomnia for thousands of years. Here, we aimed to assess the available evidence of Chinese herbal formulae that contains Suanzaoren (FSZR) for insomnia according to high-quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and reviewed their possible mechanisms based on animal-based studies.

Electronic searches were performed in eight databases from inception to November 2016. The primary outcome measures were polysomnography index and Pittsburgh sleep quality index. The secondary outcome measures were clinical effective rate and adverse events. The methodological quality of RCTs was assessed by Cochrane’s collaboration tool, and only RCTs with positive for 4 out of 7 for the Cochrane risk of bias domains were included in analyses.

Thirteen eligible studies with 1,454 patients were identified. Meta-analysis of high-quality RCTs showed that FSZR monotherapy was superior to placebo (P < 0.01); FSZR plus Diazepam was superior to Diazepam alone (P < 0.05); there were mixed results comparing FSZR with Diazepam (P > 0.05 or P < 0.05). Furthermore, FSZR caused fewer side effects than that of Diazepam.

Suanzaoren contains complex mixtures of phytochemicals including sanjoinine A, Jujuboside A, spinosin and other flavonoids, which has sedative and hypnotic functions primarily mediated by the GABAergic and serotonergic system.

In conclusion, the findings of present study supported that FSZR could be an alternative treatment for insomnia in clinic. FSZR exerted sedative and hypnotic actions mainly through the GABAergic and serotonergic system.

A systematic review of acupuncture for sleep quality in people with insomnia.

Acupuncture compared to sham/placebo and pharmacotherapy showed statistically significant results. However, the evidence is limited by bias in the included studies and heterogeneity.”

Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:11-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.007. Epub 2016 Feb 18.

Shergis JL, Ni X, Jackson ML, Zhang AL, Guo X, Li Y, Lu C, Xue CC.

OBJECTIVE: Acupuncture is widely used in Asia and increasingly in Western countries. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the effects of acupuncture for insomnia.

METHODS: We identified randomized controlled trials from English and Chinese databases. Data were extracted using a predefined form and analysed using RevMan 5.2. We included studies that compared acupuncture to sham/placebo, standard pharmacotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The primary outcome was sleep quality assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

RESULTS: A total of 30 studies involving 2363 participants were included. Acupuncture point combinations included the use of at least one of the recommended points for insomnia, HT7, GV20, SP6. Pharmacotherapy control was used in 27 studies and sham/placebo in three studies. Cognitive behavioral therapy was not used in any of the studies. Pharmacotherapies in all studies were benzodiazepine receptor agonists, except for one that used an antidepressant. Acupuncture was superior to sham/placebo in terms of PSQI (MD -0.79, 95% CI -1.38, -0.19, I(2)=49%). Acupuncture was also more effective than pharmacotherapy (MD -2.76, 95% CI -3.67, -1.85, I(2)=94%). Most studies were at risk of bias. Some mild adverse events were reported but they were not causally related to the acupuncture treatments.

CONCLUSIONS:

Acupuncture compared to sham/placebo and pharmacotherapy showed statistically significant results. However, the evidence is limited by bias in the included studies and heterogeneity. Well-designed studies are needed to confirm the results identified in this review.

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