Chinese Herbal Medicines for Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

Senile dementia is a syndrome in the elderly involving deficits in memory and cognition. The cognitive function, memory, emotional cognition, attention, etc. of patients will be affected to varying degrees after the illness. It will cause the patient’s changeable temperament, abnormal personality, a significant decline in learning ability and self-care ability in life, and even the inability to take care of itself in life.

According to its cause, Senile dementia is divided into primary dementia, vascular dementia, mixed dementia, and other types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It belongs to primary dementia, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. The clinical manifestations are decreased cognitive and memory functions, decreased ability of daily living, and various neuropsychiatric symptoms and behavioral disorders.

According to the survey, the prevalence of dementia among people over 65 years old is 7.5%. It is another major threat to the elderly after cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Clinical studies have shown that Chinese herbal medicine has significant advantages in the prevention, treatment, health care, and rehabilitation of Alzheimer’s disease.

Yin Xing Ye (Folium Ginkgo)

Yin Xing Ye commonly known as Folium Ginkgo is the leaf of Ginkgo biloba, which is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Ginkgoaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which initially appeared in <Ben Cao Pin Hui Jing Yao> (Essentials of Materia Medica Distinctions) in the Ming Dynasty (about 1,505 AD).

It has obvious effects on improving brain dysfunction, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, senile dementia, memory loss, and so on.

In addition, it also has the effects of lowering blood lipids, anti-platelet aggregation, improving cerebral ischemia, and anti-tumor. A small number of people taking it may cause muscle twitching and dilation of the pupils.

Chu Shi Zi (Fructus Broussonetiae)

Chu Shi Zi commonly known as Fructus Broussonetiae is the ripe fruit of Broussonetia papyrifera, which is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Moraceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Mingyi Bie Lu> around 420-589 AD.

Clinical studies have found that it has the effect of resisting Alzheimer’s disease or delaying Alzheimer’s disease.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to treat aching pain in the waist and knees, night sweats, spermatorrhea, dizziness, and nebula. At present, there is no literature report that the toxic effects of Chu Shi Zi have been reported.

Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng)

Ren Shen commonly known as Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng is the root and rhizome of Panax ginseng, which is a perennial erect herb belonging to the family Araliaceae. It is a precious Chinese herbal medicine and dietary supplement, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Studies have found that Ren Shen can effectively regulate the excitation and inhibition process of the central nervous system, improve learning and memory, promote the synthesis and release of acetylcholine in the brain, and increase the content of DA and NA in the brain. Its saponins can significantly improve the learning and memory impairment of mice caused by p-amyloid.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to treat tuberculosis, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes, and children with repeated respiratory infections. There is no report in the literature that it has a toxic effect.

Rou Cong Rong (Herba Cistanche)

Rou Cong Rong commonly Herba Cistanche is the fleshy stem with scaly leaves of Cistanche deserticola or Cistanche tubulosa, which is a perennial parasitic plant belonging to the family Orobanchaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Its extract can improve the learning and memory ability of mice induced by D-galactose and protect nerve cells.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to treat soreness and weakness of the waist and knees, impotence, premature ejaculation, tinnitus, insomnia, and forgetfulness. There is no report in the literature that it has a toxic effect.

He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti)

He Shou Wu also known as Fo-Ti is the root tuber of Polygonum multiforum, which is a perennial climbing herb belonging to the family Polygonaceae. It is a famous Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in Ri Hua Zi Zhu Jia Ben Cao (Ri Hua-Zi’s Collected Materia Medica) in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907AD-979AD).

Its alcohol extract can increase the content of superoxide dismutase in the heart, liver, and brain tissues of old rats, and reduce the content of lipid peroxide in the heart, liver, brain tissues, and blood of old rats.

In addition, it also has the effects of lowering blood lipids, anti-aging, and promoting melanin production. Modern research shows that He Shou Wu has certain liver toxicity.

Hong Jing Tian (Rhodiolae Crenulatae Radix et Rhizoma)

Hong Jing Tian commonly known as Rhodiolae Crenulatae Radix et Rhizoma is the root and rhizome of Rhodiola crenulata, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Crassulaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Si Bu Yi Dian>(Rgyud-Bzhi) in the 8th century AD.

Studies have found that it can up-regulate the expression of Bcl-2 protein, down-regulate the expression of Bax protein, and inhibit cell apoptosis. It has nerve cell protection and can improve the learning and memory ability of AD rats.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and high altitude hypotension. At present, there are no reports in the literature that it has a toxic effect.

San Qi (Notoginseng Radix et Rhizoma)

San Qi commonly known as Notoginseng Radix et Rhizoma is the root and rhizome of Panax notoginseng, which is a perennial erect herb belonging to the family Araliaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Compendium of Materia Medica> in the Ming Dynasty(about 1,578 AD).

Its saponins can increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes and superoxide dismutase in the hippocampus of aging model rats, inhibit the activity of caspase-3, improve the ability of learning and memory, and delay the aging of the rat nervous system.

In addition, it can treat hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, unstable angina, and diabetic foot. Overdose may cause hyperactivity, insomnia, or thirst.

Ge Gen (Kudzu Root)

Ge Gen commonly known as Kudzu Root or Radix Puerariae is the root of Pueraria lobata, which is a perennial herbaceous vine belonging to the family Leguminosae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Studies have found that it can improve the learning and memory ability of vascular dementia model rats, and treat memory decline and cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, it can treat middle-aged and elderly osteoporosis, dysmenorrhea, tardive dyskinesia, chronic rhinitis, type 2 diabetes, and post-stroke depression. At present, there are no reports in the literature that it has a toxic effect.