Research: ERNST, Department of C

Listed in Issue 52


ERNST, Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, UK. conducted an overview of systematic reviews of herbal treatment for conditions common in elderly individuals.




Hypericum perforatum (St John's Wort ) is well-tolerated and effective for mild to moderate depression . Valeriana officinalis (valerian ) has not been shown beyond reasonable doubt to be effective for insomnia . There is relatively compelling evidence that Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo ) is effective in delaying the clinical course of dementias . It has been well documented that Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut ) seed extracts relieve subjective symptoms and reduce objective signs of chronic venous insufficiency . Serenoa repens (saw palmetto ) is effective in improving symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia . Ohimbine has been shown to be effective for erectile dysfunction.


Various plant-based medicines are useful additions to the therapeutic repertoire in the treatment of common conditions in the elderly. There are, however, several remaining uncertainties which prevent unreserved recommendations.


Ernst E. Herbal medications for common ailments in the elderly. Drugs and Ageing 15(6): 423-8. Dec 1999.

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