Autism Spectrum Disorder Related TCM Symptoms and TCM Herbs Prescriptions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jun-Long Cai, Jin-Qing Lu, Gang Lu, Sheng-Nan Guo, Li-Juan Wan, Qiang Li, Jun-Jie Xu


The purpose of this research is aimed at finding effective classical herbs prescriptions and providing references for further research on the autism treatment by consulting modern literature, ancient books and monographs. We took full advantage of CiteSeer, CNKI, PubMed, VIP and other literature databases as the major methods in this study to review the modern literature of autism during 1989-2014 and summarized them. We have also sorted out many prescriptions which used to treat autism in modern literature. In the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) terms, the highest frequency of symptoms used to diagnose autism are "dullness", "mutistic", "soliloquy", "five kinds of retardation", "five weaknesses", "fetal toxicity" and "infantile metopism". By consulting ancient books and monographs, we found TCM associated with treatment of the aforementioned autism descriptors used by TCM. The results of this research is as following: Collecting over 4,706 research articles about autism spanning approximately 26 years, we reviewed the research of autism with respect to TCM and western medicine regarding its etiology, symptoms and treatment. We found the highest frequency TCM terms used to describe diagnostic symptoms of autism are "dullness", "mutistic", "soliloquy", "five kinds of retardation", "five weaknesses", "fetal toxicity" and "infantile metopism". Those descriptors were used as keywords to search related prescriptions from ancient books and monographs. More than 300 prescriptions were obtained. Finally, we verified clinical applications of these prescriptions, noting the frequency of use as a single medicine. We also collated pharmacological effects of the prescriptions, and the frequency of usage in the treatment of autism symptoms. The conclusion has been reached that TCM emphasizes a holistic treatment strategy with comprehensive aftercare. In addition, ancient physicians recorded many prescriptions about treatment of autism related symptoms in the ancient books and monographs, and some prescriptions are still applied in clinical autism treatment in current practices. In conclusion, seeking effective prescriptions and medicine from the perspective of TCM is of great importance. 


Autism, prescriptions, herbs, TCM

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