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JKM > Volume 42(3); 2021 > Article
Kim, Lee, Ha, and Kwon: Scoping Review of Prospective Clinical Studies, Projects, and Clinical Study Protocol for Korean Medicine Treatment on Dementia



The aim of this study is to review and analyze the trends in prospective clinical research (PCR), project, clinical study protocol of Korean medicine (KM) for dementia.


We searched PCRs of KM on dementia in six electronical databases, up to January 28, 2021. Moreover, the clinical research protocol and projects of KM for dementia were searched.


Total eight PCRs, nine projects, and three clinical study protocols were included. In the PCRs, there were one randomized controlled trial, five before and after study, and two comparative group before-after studies. Four of them used herbal medicine, two used acupuncture, one study used both herbal medicine and acupuncture, and the other one used moxibustion. Jowiseungchung-tang was the most frequently used herbal medicine. BL62, KI6 were used in electro-acupuncture, auricular-Shenmen in auricular acupuncture, and GV20 in moxibustion. The most frequent outcome was Korean-Dementia Rating Scale (K-DRS). One reported significant increase in K-DRS score, one reported 60% improvement, and the other studies mostly reported no significant difference. In the projects including 20 clinical studies of dementia, herbal medicine, integrative medicine and acupuncture were mainly used. In the protocols, herbal medicine, complex KM intervention, and integrative medicine were used.


Currently, the number of PCRs of KM for dementia is very scarce. Therefore, the researcher’s interest in this field and national research support should be made more, and the quality of clinical research in the future can be further improved by supplementing the limitations of previously published clinical research.

Fig. 1
PRISMA Flow chart of literature selection process
Fig. 2
Risk of bias summary of included RCT
Fig. 3
Risk of bias summary of included non-RCTs
Table 1
Characteristics of included studies
First Author (Year) Number of subjects Mean age (mean ± SD) Gender ratio (m:w) Setting Education years (mean ± SD) Underlying disease Type of dementia Disease duration Disease severity Diagnosis Intervention Treatment period Treatment Frequency
Kim (1998)9) 45 NR 14:31 H NR NR AD NR Mild: 9
Moderate: 14
Severe: 22
DSM-IV HM according to Sasang constitution, acupuncture (Taegeuk acupuncture) 65–330 d (mean 145 d) NR
Park (2001)14) 6 83.8 ± 7.2 NR H NR NR VD NR NR NINCDS-A
EA (BL62, KI6) 1 session (15 min) 1 session
Cho (2003)15) 31 71.4 ± 6.6 8:23 H 6.1 ± 4.9 NR Early AD NR NR Diagnosis from clinical psychologist and oriental neuropsychia trist HM (Jowiseungchungtang) 6 mon 4 sessions/day
Kim (2003)16) (A): 15
(B): 10
(A): 70.86 ± 6.54
(B): 69.66 ± 3.78
(A): 5:10
(B): 2:8
H NR NR (A): Early AD
(B): Normal
NR NR Diagnosis from clinical psychologist and oriental neuropsychia trist (A): HM (Jowiseu ngchungt ang)
(B): no treatment
9 mon 4 sessions/day
Jung (2004)17) 33 70.3 ± 4.1 14:19 H 5.5 ± 5.3 NR Early AD NR NR Diagnosis from oriental neuropsychia trist HM (Gongjin-dan) 100 d Everyday
Eom (2005)18) 22→16 69.88 ± 5.58 6:10 H 8.00 ± 5.59 NR Early AD NR NR DSM-IV
HM (Kunneotang) 12 mon NR
Kim (2010)19) (A): 31
(B): 7
75.9 (A): 7:24
(B): 4:3
CH NR NR (A): 5 VD, 26
(B): Normal
NR NR NR AA (auricular-Shenmen) 1 session (15 min) 1 session
Shine (2011)20) (A): 10
(B): 10
(A): 80.3
(B): 77.9
All females CH (A): 3.8
(B): 4.1
NR (A): 9 SD, 1 AD
(B): 7 SD, 2 AD, 1 VD
NR K-MMSE under 20
GDS under 4
Under Moderate
Diagnosis from neurologist or neuropsychia trist (A): moxibust ion (GV20)
(B): no treatment
2 wk 1 session/day
5 day/week

Abbreviations. (A), group A; (B), group B; AA, auricular acupuncture; AD, Alzheimer’s disease; CH, convalescent hospital; DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders EA, electro-acupuncture; GDS, Global Deterioration Scale; H, hospital; HM, herbal medicine; K-DRS, Korean-Dementia Rating Scale; K-MMSE, Korean Mini-Mental State Examination; NINCDS-ADRDA, the National of Neurological Communicative Disease and Stroke & the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders; NR, not reported; VD, vascular dementia.

Table 2
Composition of herbal medicine
First Author (Year) Composition of Herb Medicine
Jung (2004)17) Gongjin-dan: Moschus(麝香) 10g, Corunus Cervi Parvum(鹿茸) 75g, Angelicae Gigantis Radix(當歸) 75g, Fructus Corni(山茱萸) 75g, Honey(蜂蜜) 235g
Devide to 100 pieces and take 1 piece per one time
Cho (2003)15)
Kim (2003)16)
Jowiseungchungtang: Coicis Semen(薏苡仁) 8g, Castanae Fructus(乾栗) 8g, Raphani Semen(蘿葍子) 6g, Longanae Arillus(龍眼肉) 6g, Playticodi Radix(桔梗) 4g, Liriopis Tuper(麥門冬) 4g, Acori Rhizoma(石菖蒲) 4g, Biotae Semen(柏子仁) 4g, Ziziphuy Semen(山棗仁炒) 4g, Massa medicate Fermentata(神麯炒) 4g, Ephedrae Herba(麻黃) 3g, Polygalae Radix(遠志) 3g, Maximowioziae Fructus(五味子) 3g, Amomi Semen(貢砂仁) 3g
Eom (2005)18) Kunneotang: Acori graminei Rhizoma(石菖蒲) 2g, Polygalae Radix(遠志) 2g, Massa medicate Fermentata(神麯) 2g
Table 3
Outcomes and results of included studies
First Author (Year) Main Outcomes Results
Kim (1998)9) 1. Clinical improvement 1. Improved to almost normal state (n = 14), some improvement (n = 13), no change (n = 16), became worse (n = 2)
Park (2001)14) 1. EEG
1) Before treatment vs during treatment
2) Before treatment vs after treatment
1-1) Before > during the treatment in F4, F8 position (p < 0.05)
1-2) No significant difference (p > 0.05)
Cho (2003)15) 1. K-DRS 1. No significant difference (t = 0.791, r = 0.435)
Kim (2003)16) 1. K-DRS
2. ERP
1) P300 component amplitude
2) p300 component latency
1. No significant difference (p < 0.171)
2-1) No significant difference
2-2) In (A), the latency didn’t have significant difference, whereas (B) significantly increased (p < 0.001)
Jung (2004)17) K-DRS Pre < post (t = 9.907, r = 0.573)
Eom (2005)18) 1. MMSE-K
2. K-DRS
3. ERP
1. Pre < post (p = 0.122)
2. Pre > post (p = 0.681)
3. P300 amplitude was significantly decreased (p < 0.05). P300 latency didn’t have significant difference
Kim (2010)19) 1. EEG
1) Comparison before vs after 15min in (A), (B)
1-1) change of α wave
1-2) change of β wave
1-3) change of δ wave
1-4) change of θ wave
2) Comparison change of before and after 15 min in (A) and (B)
1-1) No significant difference in (B) but F4, FP2, FCZ, F8, FC4 were significantly increased in (A) (p < 0.05)
1-2) No significant difference in (B) but T8 was significantly increased in (A) (p < 0.05)
1-3) No significant difference in (B) but F7, FP1, FZ, FP2, FCZ, C4, FC4, CP4, T8, P7, P3, O1, OZ, O2, P4, P8 were significantly increased in (A) (p < 0.05)
1-4) No significant difference in (B) but O1, OZ, O2 were significantly increased in (A) (p < 0.05)
2) No significant difference between (A) and (B)
Shine (2011)20) Correct answer measurement of K-BNT (measured 4 times) 1. Correct answer was significantly increased in (A) between 1st and 2nd time (p < 0.05)
2. Decreased in 3rd and 4th times

Abbreviations. EEG, electroencephalogram; ERP, event-related potential; K-BNT, Korean version-Boston Naming Test; K-DRS, Korean-Dementia Rating Scale.


Appendix 1.

Search strategy in each database (search date: 2021.1.28.)

Database Search terms
MEDLINE (Dementia[MH] OR dement*[TIAB] OR Alzheimer*[TIAB] OR “Lewy body”[TIAB] OR Huntington*[TIAB] OR Parkinson*[TIAB] OR “Pick disease”[TIAB] OR “cognitive impairment”[TIAB])
(“Medicine, Korean Traditional”[MH] OR Acupuncture[MH] OR “Acupuncture Therapy”[MH] OR “Acupuncture Points”[MH] OR Electroacupuncture[MH] OR Auriculotherapy[MH] OR Drugs, Chinese Herbal[MH] OR Meditation[MH] OR Mindfulness[MH] OR “Relaxation Therapy”[MH] OR Qigong[MH] OR “Tai ji”[MH] OR “Korean medicine”[TIAB] OR acupunct*[TIAB] OR electroacupunct*[TIAB] OR electro-acupunct*[TIAB] OR acupoint*[TIAB] OR “herbal medicine”[TIAB] OR decoction*[TIAB] OR meditation[TIAB] OR mindful*[TIAB] OR relaxation[TIAB] OR qigong[TIAB] OR “Ch’i Kung”[TIAB] OR “Qi Gong”[TIAB] OR Taichi[TIAB] OR “Tai Chi”[TIAB] OR “Tai Ji”[TIAB])
(Korea[MH] OR Korea*[TIAB])
OASIS 치매 OR 알츠하이머
KISS 치매 AND (한약 OR 침)
알츠하이머 AND (한약 OR 침)
RISS 치매 AND (한약 OR 침)
알츠하이머 AND (한약 OR 침)
EMBASE (‘dementia’/exp OR dement*:ab,ti OR Alzheimer*:ab,ti OR ‘Lewy body’:ab,ti OR Huntington*:ab,ti OR Parkinson*:ab,ti OR ‘Pick disease’:ab,ti OR ‘cognitive impairment’:ab,ti)
(‘Korean medicine’/exp OR ‘acupuncture’/exp OR ‘acupuncture point’/exp OR ‘electroacupuncture’/exp OR ‘herbal medicine’/exp OR ‘meditation’/exp OR ‘mindfulness’/exp OR ‘relaxation training’/exp OR ‘qigong’/exp OR ‘Tai Chi’/exp OR ‘Korean medicine’:ab,ti OR acupunct*:ab,ti OR electroacupunct*:ab,ti OR electro-acupunct*:ab,ti OR acupoint*:ab,ti OR ‘herbal medicine’:ab,ti OR decoction*:ab,ti OR meditation:ab,ti OR mindful*:ab,ti OR relaxation:ab,ti OR qigong:ab,ti OR ‘Chi Kung’:ab,ti OR ‘Qi Gong’:ab,ti OR Taichi:ab,ti OR ‘Tai Chi’:ab,ti OR ‘Tai Ji’:ab,ti)
‘South Korea’/exp OR Korea*:ab,ti
CENTRAL (MeSH descriptor: [Dementia] explode all trees OR (dement* OR Alzheimer* OR “Lewy body” OR Huntington* OR Parkinson* OR “Pick disease” OR “cognitive impairment”):ti,ab)
(MeSH descriptor: [Medicine, Korean Traditional] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Acupuncture] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Acupuncture Therapy] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Acupuncture Points] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Electroacupuncture] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Auriculotherapy] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Drugs, Chinese Herbal] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Meditation] explode all trees OR # MeSH descriptor: [Mindfulness] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Relaxation Therapy] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Qigong] explode all trees OR MeSH descriptor: [Tai ji] explode all trees OR (“Korean medicine” OR acupunct* OR electroacupunct* OR electro-acupunct* OR acupoint* OR “herbal medicine” OR decoction* OR meditation OR mindful* OR relaxation OR qigong OR “Ch’i Kung” OR “Qi Gong” OR Taichi OR “Tai Chi” OR “Tai Ji”):ti,ab)
(MeSH descriptor: [Korea] explode all trees OR Korea*:ti,ab)
In Trials
Appendix 2.

Projects of Korean medicine for dementia (search date: 2021.2.26.)

Appendix 3.

Clinical study protocol of Korean medicine for dementia (search date: 2021.2.26.)



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