Stroke is an important cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide but effective therapeutic strategy for the prevention of brain injury in patients with cerebral ischemia is lacking. Although tissue plasminogen activator has been used to treat stroke patients, this therapeutic strategy is confronted with ill side effects and is limited to patients within 3 h of a stroke. Due to the complexity of the events and the disappointing results from single agent trials, the combination of thrombolytic therapy and effective neural protection therapy may be an alternative strategy for patients with cerebral ischemia. Chinese medicine (CM) is the most widely practiced form of herbalism worldwide, as it is a sophisticated system of medical theory and practice that is specifically different from Western medicine. Most traditional therapeutic formulations consist of a combination of several drugs. The combination of multiple drugs is thought to maximize therapeutic efficacy by facilitating synergistic actions and preventing possible adverse effects while at the same time marking at multiple targets. CM has been labeled in ancient medicine systems as a treatment for various diseases associated with stroke. This review summarizes various CMs, bioactive compounds and their effects on cerebral ischemia.
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