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Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2007 Jul;68(4):280-90. doi: 10.1016/j.curtheres.2007.08.004.

Comparison of the Addition of Siberian Ginseng (Acanthopanax senticosus) Versus Fluoxetine to Lithium for the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Adolescents: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial.

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Department of Psychiatry, Renmin Hospital, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.
Department of Pharmacology, Basic Medical School of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.



Bipolar disorder (BD) is a common, recurrent, and often life-long major psychiatric condition characterized by manic, depressive, and mixed episodes. Without treatment, there is substantial risk for morbidity and mortality, making BD a considerable public health problem.


The purpose of this study was to compare the relative effectiveness and tolerability of Acanthopanax senficosus (A senficosus)-an herb that is derived from eleutherosides and polysaccharides found in the plant's root- versus fluoxetine added to lithium in the treatment of BD in adolescents.


This was a double-blind, 6-week study. The patients were randomized into 2 treatment groups-A senticosus plus lithium (A senticosus group) and fluoxetine plus lithium (fluoxetine group). The patients underwent a baseline assessment using the 17-Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) during the screening period. Patients were scheduled for clinical visits at the end of weeks 1, 2, 4, and 6. At the end of the 6-week treatment period, each patient's condition was rated as follows: response (indicating an improvement of ≥50% in the HAMD-17 score from baseline); remission (a HAMD-17 score of ⪯7); and switching to mania (a YMRS score >16, and meeting the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [Fourth Edition, Text Revision] for a manic episode). At each visit (with the exception of the enrollment visit), the patients were queried as to whether they experienced any health problems since the previous visit, a Treatment Emergent Symptom Scale assessment was completed, and the serum lithium concentration was analyzed. The patients were instructed to report adverse events (AEs) at any time during the study. AEs were also observed by the investigator(s) at clinical visits.


Seventy-nine Chinese adolescents were initially enrolled into the study. However, 76 adolescents were assessed for inclusion (45 females, 31 males; mean [SD] age, 15.4 [30.0] years; age range, 12-17 years) in the study. All included patients completed the study. After 6 weeks of treatment, the response rate between the A senticosus and the fluoxetine groups was similar (67.6% vs 71.8%, respectively). The remission rate between both groups was also similar (51.4% vs 48.7%). Analyzed by a general line model, the HAMD-17 scores revealed there was a significant time effect (F = 183.06; P < 0.01), but not a significant group effect (F = 0.99) or group-by-duration of treatment interaction (F = 0.779). Three patients in the fluoxetine group experienced switching to mania compared with no patient in the A senticosus group. AEs reported by patients in the A senticosus group were as follows: nausea, 2 (5.4%); rash, 1 (2.7%); and diarrhea, 1 (2.7%). AEs reported by patients in the fluoxetine group were as follows: nausea, 4 (10.3%); anxiety, 3 (7.7%); insomnia, 3 (7.7%); constipation, 1 (2.6%); and tinnitus, 1 (2.6%).


Our study found no significant difference in these adolescents with BD treated with lithium plus adjunctive A senticosus or fluoxetine. All treatments were generally well tolerated.


Acanthopanax senticosus; adolescent; bipolar disorder; fluoxetine

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