Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments on the cognitive functioning of elderly persons with mild cognitive impairment associated with white matter lesions

Songming HE; Lijun LI; Juying HU; Qiaoli CHEN; Weiqun SHU
October 2015
Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry;Oct2015, Vol. 27 Issue 5, p289
Academic Journal
Background: Cerebral white matter lesion (WML) is a pathological change of the white matter which is considered an early sign of brain impairment in elderly individuals, so it is reasonable to administer early dementia prevention programs to individuals with WML. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has developed several approaches to prevent or delay the onset of dementia that have, as yet, not been formally tested. Aim: Evaluate the effects of a 6-month TCM intervention for elderly persons with mild cognitive impairment and WML. Methods: Eighty individuals 65 years of age or older with radiological evidence of WML and mild cognitive impairment based on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) were classified into the four main TCM constitutional types (qi deficiency, yang deficiency, phlegm dampness, or blood stasis) and randomly assigned to a treatment group or a treatment-as-usual control group. The treatment group participated in training focused on diet, lifestyle, exercises, and emotional regulation adjustment; they also received six monthly courses of moxibustion (heating acupoints by burning the moxa of dried mugwort), each of which involved 10 daily 15-minute sessions focused on three targeted acupoints (one of which was specific to the constitutional type). Changes in the MoCA and in the score of each of the four constitutional types were the main outcomes assessed. Results:Two participants dropped out of each group over the 6 months, leaving 38 in each group. Based on repeated measures analysis of variance, the total MoCA score, four of the six MoCA subscales scores (visual space and executive function, naming, attention and calculation, and delayed memory), and all four of the TCM constitution type scores showed significantly greater improvement over the 6 months in the treatment group than in the control group. Conclusions: This study shows that TCM interventions can improve both the cognitive functioning and the severity of symptoms considered in the TCM assessment of constitutional types among elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment and WML. Long-term follow-up studies that use blinded evaluation of the outcome are needed to determine whether or not constitution-specific TCM treatments can prevent the onset of dementia.



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