Depression is a common mental disorder. Chai Hu Shu Gan San, a traditional Chinese medicine, is used to treat depression empirically. We present a systematic review and meta-analysis of the therapeutic efficacy and safety of Chai Hu Shu Gan San in treating depression.
Several databases, including PubMed, China National Knowledge Internet, Wanfang, Chongqing VIP, and the Cochrane library, were systematically searched from their date of foundation to January 1, 2017. In this review, wehave included randomized control trials that compared Chai Hu Shu Gan San (or its combination with a regular Western medicine) with a regular Western medicine alone for the treatment of depression. Two investigators independently extracted and analyzed the data using RevMan 5.2.0 software. Mean difference (with a 95% confidence interval) was used as efficacy indices for outcomes.
We included 42 studies involving 3234 patients with depression in 15 different types of diseases. Meta analyses showed better effect of Chai Hu Shu Gan San than fluoxetine for pure depression (MD = - 1.59, from - 2.82 to - 0.37, 4 trials, I2 = 26%), for post-stroke depression (MD = - 4.20, from - 6.20 to - 2.19, 7 trials, I2 = 96%), and for postpartum depression (MD = - 4.10, from - 7.48 to - 0.72 7 trials, I2 = 86%). None of the articles reported severe adverse events of oral administration of Chai Hu Shu Gan San. Furthermore, any adverse effects of using Chai Hu Shu Gan San alone were fewer than those of regular Western medicines.
This review found that Chai Hu Shu Gan San has some advantages in treating depression, especially post-stroke depression and post-partum depression. A meticulously designed and conducted randomized control trial is needed for further evaluation.