Throughout the world, schizophrenia affects around 50 million people. In the United States each year, around 200 new cases are diagnosed each year. All in all, there are around 2 million citizens suffering from this condition. Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric disorder often related to a different combination of symptoms that are classified into being disorganized, negative, or positive symptoms. Disorganized symptoms include poor attention, erratic behavior, and disorganized speech. Negative symptoms include a decreased initiation of behavior that is goal directed (avolition), lessened speech and thought productivity (alogia), and no emotional expression. Positive symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. The treatment approach to schizophrenia is presently oriented towards the modulation of the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways in the central nervous system.

It is now widely known that more and more people in the United States are going for alternative and/or complementary treatments for several kinds of medical conditions. In December 2008, for example, the National Center for Health Statistics (a division of the CDC), NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), and NIH (National Institutes of Health) (NIH) surveyed over 32,000 people and that survey showed that almost 12% of children and more than 38% of adults in the U.S. utilized a certain type of alternative and/or complementary treatment. Of these types of alternative and complementary treatments, the greatest ranked were natural products (17.8%) while the least used were homeopathic therapies (1.8%). It is now known that many patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses will also utilize natural or herbal medicine to help resolve their conditions. For patients suffering from paranoia, who may think that someone or something is trying to do harm to them through the use of prescription drugs, this is especially true. If they have a basic knowledge about schizophrenia, it is possible that some of these patients may feel a lot better at knowing that their own therapy where they could avail themselves of natural or herbal medicines without the consent or knowledge of the prescribing doctor.

If we take all these into account, it would be vital for doctors to not only acknowledge herbal or natural medicine’s potential but also to recognize the use of these treatments by their patients. In essence, a comprehensive medication use evaluation should be done at both hospital admissions and clinic visits.

This list, of course, is not complete e in nature. Listed below are some of the commonly used Saratoga Springs Chinese herbal formulas that have been studied and given to patients with schizophrenia:

Tsiao yoa san
Rhei palmatum radix
Hirudo seu Whitmania
Standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba
Dang gui cheng chi teng

One also needs to realize that a lot of these herbal remedies are used along with typical prescribed antipsychotics and so may contribute to unexpected degrees of safety or efficacy profiles.

The Cochrane Collaboration did a systematic review to evaluate the effect of natural or herbal medicines alone and along with conventional antipsychotics on development, overall functioning, and symptoms of psychotic patients as well as any rise of negative side effects. Although this review just included six studies that were of short duration and had small sample sizes, they showed that herbal remedies along is not potent enough to resolve the treat psychotic symptoms, and the combination of conventional antipsychotics with the herbs produces much better results as it relates to the lowering of side effects, as well as patients’ overall functioning and mental state. While these finding may look promising, recognizing that these results would need to be further verified by means of more research is just as important.

To Summarize:

1. Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that not only impacts millions of people throughout the world, it can also be a complicated issue to control on a long-term basis.
2. More and more schizophrenic patients and those with other psychiatric illnesses are now looking for and using natural or herbal treatment to help resolve their illnesses.
1. While this list is by no means complete in nature, these Chinese herbal formulas have been researched and used by schizophrenia sufferers: Tsingshen, Tsiao yoa san, Rhei palmatum radix, Hirudo seu Whitmania, Standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba, and Dang gui cheng chi teng.