Historically, the decoction’s primary use has been to treat functional dyspepsia and depression, although a recent study of Korean medicine, published in the international academic journal Frontiers in Pharmacology on Oct. 26, 2022, found it also to be effective in improving cognitive function.
The research team of Dr. Ko Young from the Korean Medical Technology Application Center of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine found that the decoction improves cognitive function and can be applied in dementia treatment.
Liu Jun Zi Tang is composed of ginseng, Atractylodes macrocephala, Poria cocos, licorice, tangerine peel, pinellia, ginger, and jujube.
Mild in nature and with no side effects, it can enhance digestion, absorption, and immune function. It also can promote expectoration, relieve cough, and is applicable in treating stomach, duodenal ulcers, gastritis, emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.
In modern pharmacology, ginseng, the main ingredient in the decoction, can improve immunity and protect the cardiovascular system. It can effectively strengthen the central nervous system, stabilize one’s spirit, eliminate fatigue, enhance memory, and improve insomnia and memory loss symptoms such as dementia.
The second ingredient, Atractylodes macrocephala, in addition to its efficacy as anti-tumor, anti-inflammation, and in regulating the gastrointestinal tract, is also effective in anti-aging and anti-senile dementia effects.
Poria cocos regulates the urinary system, is anti-tumor, is anti-inflammation, improves memory, and is good for sedation.
The research team conducted experiments on cells and animals using the decoction and found that it exhibits new positive results for cognitive behavior, inhibition of nerve cell damage, and activating the factors in new nerve cell growth.
The research team induced neurotoxicity in rat hippocampal cells and then confirmed that the decoction could protect those cells, thus preventing damage to mitochondrial function and reducing oxidative stress. In another animal model with natural cognitive decline, it was confirmed that the decoction has the effect of improving cognitive behavior, protecting nerve cells in hippocampal tissue, and improving the effect of acetylcholine signaling.
The research team concluded that the decoction could increase the secretive signal of neurotrophic brain derivated neurotrophic factor from the brain, which helps nerve cells grow and survive, thereby protecting nerve cells.
The team believes that using the decoction, which has been proven safe, can greatly reduce the cost of clinical trials. As a follow-up, there’s a distinct possibility of developing a therapeutic agent for dementia based on Korean medicine.
“I plan to continue to find new effects of improving cognitive function from herbal medicine in the future and conduct research that can be used to prevent and treat dementia,” Ko said.
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