Health Questions and Answers

Question: Which of these studies show that CAM therapies have some benefit?


An extract of Ginkgo biloba (Egb) was used in a 52-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group multicenter study to assess efficacy and safety in the treatment of Alzheimer disease and multiinfarct dementia. It was concluded that Egb was capable of stabilizing and improving cognitive performance and social functioning of these patients.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 116 patients compared a Chinese herbal preparation with placebo in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Patients receiving the Chinese herbal medicine had significant improvement in bowel symptom scores as rated by patients (P- 0.03) and by gastroenterologists (P – 0.001) and significant global improvement as rated by patients (P- 0.007) and gastroenterologists (P- 0.002).

A systematic quality assessment and metaanalysis was done of the clinical trials of glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment the osteoarthritis. This therapy was determined to be effective, but quality issues and publication bias were believed to exaggerate these effects.

Reference: Le Bars PL, Katz MM, Berman N, et al: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial of an extract of ginkgo biloba for dementia. JAMA 278:1327-1332, 1997

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