Posts Tagged ‘Swine Flu’


Some Chinese remedies have been recommended by the government in the fight against human swine flu.

The Chinese Medicine Department of the Hospital Authority Friday announced five Chinese remedies believed to help prevent infection by influenza, including human swine flu – especially for the populace of Hong Kong.

“Considering the environment of Hong Kong, the five remedies are medically tailored to Hong Kong people with reference to Hong Kong’s circumstances and the physical condition of Hong Kong people,” said assistant professor Cao Kejian from the School of Chinese Medicine, the University of Hong Kong.

Cao, in addition to three other Chinese medicine practitioners, was invited by the Hospital Authority in May this year to formulate influenza preventatives. They have also been to Beijing to have further discussions with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and came back to Hong Kong with a set of suggested Chinese medicine remedies from Beijing which were then refined to meet the specific needs of Hong Kong people.

One of the remedies said to be especially appropriate and effective for the winter-spring season in Hong Kong is reportedly able to prevent both colds and influenza. It contains su ye, jing jie, sang ye, and ju hua, 10g each plus 3g gan cao.

“Su ye and jing jie can prevent cold while sang ye and ju hua can help prevent influenza,” Cho said, adding, “Thus, this remedy can help people avoid both cold and influenza.”

Another Chinese medicine practitioner, Wang Yongqin, senior lecturer of the Clinical Division, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, recommended that Hong Kong people have lighter meals instead of having an excessive fatty and oily diet in the winter, for a healthier body and prevention of flu. Spicy foods, he advises, should also be avoided as they may create too much heat in the lung and lead to flu.

“More vegetables and fruits are recommended, but avoid deep fried and spicy foods,” said Wang.

There have recently been claims that chili and garlic can help prevent flu, but Cho said they were just rumors and there was not any official proof of such efficacy.

The 14 Chinese medicine clinics under the Hospital Authority are providing information about the five remedies concerned on the Authority’s website at Different people with different physical constitutions and conditions should choose different remedies, and are strongly advised to seek a physician’s advice on selecting the best remedy for themselves.

Specific medical prevention and remedies aside, maintaining good health and a strong immune system through good health practices and diet are crucial, according to the Hospital Authority.

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Chinese medical specialists announced Thursday they had developed a Chinese herbal medication to treat the A/H1N1 flu.
Seven months of scientific and clinical studies showed the remedy, called “Jin Hua Qing Gan Fang,” was effective in treating A/H1N1 flu patients, said Wang Chen, president of Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital.
“It can shorten patients’ fever period and improve their respiratory systems. Doctors have found no negative effects on patients who were treated in this way,” he said.
“It is also very cheap, only about a quarter of the cost of Tamiflu,” he said at a press conference held by the Beijing Municipal Government.
Tamiflu, a product of Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding, was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the treatment of the A/H1N1 flu.
“The municipal government has gathered the most outstanding medical experts in the Chinese capital to develop the new medication,” Zhao Jing, director of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said at the press conference.
Over the past seven months, more than 120 medical specialists, led by academicians Wang Yongyan and Li Lianda from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, had participated in the research, she said.
The municipal government earmarked 10 million yuan (1.47 million U.S. dollars) for the project, she said.
“Medical experts proved the effectiveness of Jin Hua in treating A/H1N1 flu from both the basic scientific studies and clinical studies,” she said.
The basic scientific studies lasted for almost five months and were conducted by experts from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Beijing University of Technology.
“In vivo and in vitro, experiments on mice and rabbits show JinHua can bring down a fever and resist the A/H1N1 flu virus,” said Huang Luqi, vice president of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.
Thursday’s Beijing Daily hailed the new herbal medication as the “world’s first traditional Chinese medicine to treat the A/H1N1 flu”.
Citing medical officials, the paper said “Jin Hua” was picked from among more than 100 classic anti-flu prescriptions based on traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
“Science workers proved its effectiveness through medical experiments on more than 4,000 mice and clinical studies on 410 patients with slight A/H1N1 flu syndrome,” it said.
The “Jin Hua” prescription had been adopted in many local traditional Chinese medicine hospitals, it said.
Zhao Jing said 11 hospitals nationwide, including Chaoyang Hospital and Ditan Hospital in Beijing, had conducted clinical studies on “Jin Hua” and gave positive assessments.
“We are applying for patents for ‘Jin Hua’ both at home and abroad,” she said.
“We are further developing the medicine and trying to present it to the whole country and world as soon as possible, thus offering an alternative to treat the A/H1N1 flu,” she said.
The Chinese mainland has reported almost 108,000 A/H1N1 flu cases, including 442 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Cris Tunon, senior program management officer at the WHO Representative Office in China, said Thursday the “WHO welcomes the clinical results,” as the traditional Chinese medicine offered a low-cost treatment of A/H1N1 flu.



Some TCM prescription that may prevent swine flu:

Prescription 1 :
Applying to physical sturdy or over-alcohol crowd, it is consisted of:
Puerarin 15 grams, Radix scutellariae 10 grams, Wrinkled Gianthyssop Herb 10 grams, Raw Wheat seed 10 grams, Raw liquorice 5 grams. Efficacy: removing heat and dampness, relief evil through surface.

Prescription 2:
Applying to physical weakness or spontaneous sweat or getting cold easily crowd, it is consisted of:
Radix astragali 20 grams, Radix sileris 10 grams, Atractylis ovata 10 grams, Honeysuckle flower 10 grams, Raw licorice 5 grams. Efficacy: cleaning and supplement, preventing cold and wind, encouraging Qi, resisting exogenous pathogenic factor.

Prescription 3 :
12 grams of mulberry leaves, chrysanthemum 12 grams, 10 grams of almonds north, leaves 12 grams, 15 grams Puerarin, Health Adlay 15 grams, 15 grams of root, Platycodon 12 grams, 12 grams Phillyrin, Folium 15 grams, silver spent 12 grams, 6 grams licorice, those Chinese herbs mentioned above should be washed and they are soaked in water; 15 minutes should be taken to boil with Wu fire. The recipe taste better. Sugar should not be put in them when taking it.

Prescription 4:
The National Chinese medicine Administrative bureau issued Chinese medicine Prevention Plan of A/ H1N1 Flu. Chinese medicine Prevention Plan of A /H1N1 Flu prescribe traditional Chinese medicine formula on how to prevent flu for different group of the population:

Formula is 10 grams radix pseudostellariae, 6 grams folium perillae, 10 grams radices scutellariae, 10 grams fructus arctii to crowds of fragility and easy affection of exotenous wind-cold.

The formula is 5 grams herba taching, 5 grams Lithospermum officinale L., 5 grams crude liquorice to crowds of red complexion, oral pharynx and sometimes nose dry.

The formula is 10 grams folium perillae, 10 grams herba eupatorii and 10 grams pericarpium citri reticulatae to crowds of dark complexion and sometimes abdominal distension.

The formula is 6 grams ageratum, 6 grams folium perillae, 10 grams FLOS LONICERAE and 10 grams crude hawkthorn to children of easy excessive internal heat and putrid sour breath.

The above decoction for oral use is 1 dose every day which decocted by clear water with once in the morning and evening. 3-5 doses are advisable.

Chinese Herbal Remedy For H1N1 Flu, Treat A Flu With Chinese Herbs, Chinese Herbs Against H1N1 Flu

The outbreak speed of H1N1 flu (swine flu) is fast and nobody would predict precisely to what extent this H1N1 flu (swine flu) will affect human being’s life. In China some hospitals have adopted the traditional Chinese herbal medication to treat this disease and received expected good result. To share this information with all who are concerned with affection of H1N1 flu (swine flu), we present the prescription of Chinese herbal medicine here that was released online by Guangdong Provincial Chinese Herbal Medicine Hospital. This information is purely for your reference and we hold no responsibility for its actual result. The final decision will be made by your local doctor.

Some other flu-related natural prescriptions:
Prescription for symptom of sore throat and heat:
金银花 (Flos Lonicerae / jin yin hua) 15g
连翘 (Weeping Forsythia / lian qiao) 15g
薄荷 (Peppermint / bo he) 10g and the last element to be boiled
荆芥穗 (Spica Schizonepetae / jing jie sui) 10g
牛蒡子 (Greater Burdock / niu pang zi) 15g
桔梗 (Platycodon Root / jie geng) 10g
芦根 (Reed Rhizome / lu geng) 15g
生甘草 (Licorice Roots Northwest Origin / sheng gan cao) 5g

Prescription for symptom of heavy cough:
桑叶 (Mulberry Leaf / sang ye) 15g
菊花 (Florists Chrysanthemum / ju hua) 15g
薄荷 (Peppermint / bo he) 10g and is the last element to be boiled
连翘 (Weeping Forsythia / lian qiao) 15g
芦根 (Reed Rhizome / lu geng) 15g
桔梗 (Platycodon Root / jie geng) 10g
杏仁 (Bitter Apricot Kerne / xing ren) 10g
生甘草 (Licorice Roots Northwest Origin / sheng gan cao) 5g

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Children suffering A(H1N1) influenza could benefit from taking Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Beijing traditional Chinese medicine bureau said.

Tu Zhitao, vice-director of the bureau, claimed that children sickened with the flu should be cured within three days.

“Some children will be cured with only one dose (of No 2 Cold Medicine), while others might need two,” Tu said.
As the number of H1N1 sufferers reached 6,196 in Beijing as of Monday, 20 traditional Chinese medicine hospitals opened 24-hour anti-H1N1 departments.

Tamiflu and Relenza are the two approved antiviral drugs that are available for treatment of H1N1. The World Health Organization recommends that all patients (including pregnant women) and all age groups (including young children and infants) should be treated with Tamiflu in the event of severe or deteriorating illness.

The WHO said it was not familiar with the TCM recommended for children and could not comment.

A woman who didn’t provide her name and was in charge of the health policy division of the bureau, told METRO: “This medicine is very effective. Our director’s son has tried it.”

“Western medicines might harm the stomachs of children. Chinese medicine does not have this side effect. This No 2 cold medicine is an upgrade of former anti-flu medicine,” she added.

Cui Xianyu, director of the Korean International School in Beijing said: “We haven’t heard about No 2 cold medicine but we have faith in Chinese medicine.”

“About one month ago, we provided our students with some Chinese medicine to protect them from H1N1 following a requirement from the municipal education commission. They didn’t suffer from any side effects but we did have to close the school for a week after some students were infected,” Cui said.

An employee of the pediatrics department in Xiyuan Hospital at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences said it would open a special anti-H1N1 department today.

The woman, who also did not want to be named, told METRO: “We haven’t received many patients these days. The No 2 cold medicine is basically the same as the ordinary anti-flu Chinese medicine. You can buy it for around 6 yuan.”

Professor Zhai Huaqiang from the School of Chinese Pharmacy at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine believed Chinese medicine might be a cure for H1N1, but it isn’t suitable for everyone.

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Sales of a traditional Chinese medicine against swine flu, which its producer says is especially effective for children, have been launched in China, a local newspaper said on Tuesday.

The China Daily quoted the deputy head of the Beijing traditional Chinese medicine bureau as saying that children with the flu should be cured with “No 2 Cold Medicine” within three days.

“Some children will be cured with only one dose, while others might need two,” Tu Zhitao said.

The World Health Organization said it was not familiar with the traditional Chinese medicine recommended for children and could not comment, the paper said.

Tamiflu and Relenza are so far the only two approved antiviral drugs that are available for treatment of the H1N1 virus.

As the number of H1N1 cases reached 6,196 in Beijing as of Monday, 20 traditional Chinese medical hospitals opened 24-hour anti-H1N1 departments, the paper said.

An unidentified bureau official said the traditional Chinese medicine is very effective and does not harm the stomach, unlike western medicines. “Chinese medicine does not have this side effect. This No 2 cold medicine is an upgrade of former anti-flu medicines,” the paper quoted her as saying.

Other experts said the medicine is basically the same as an ordinary Chinese anti-flu drug.

Nearly 50,000 confirmed swine flu cases have been reported in China. Seven people have died of the disease and 118 are in critical condition.

China was the first country to complete tests of a swine flu vaccine and started the vaccination campaign in September. The country plans to produce up to 360 million doses of the vaccine, and is set to allocate a total of $725 million on efforts to curb the disease.

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A teenager in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region died of A/H1N1 influenza Tuesday, after at least eight Chinese nationals had fallen victims to the virus on the mainland.
The 14-year-old school student surnamed Guo, of Fuyun County in Altay Prefecture, was treated at local clinics for a fever on Oct.30. He was transferred to the Fuyun People’s Hospital Tuesday, but later died, said the regional health department.

Tests on Wednesday showed Guo died of A/H1N1, viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, the department said.

Eight deaths from A/H1N1 had earlier been reported from Beijing, Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Guangxi, Hunan and Zhejiang.

In the eighth case, a 60-year-old man in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, died Tuesday as he was recovering from the flu two days after tests showed negative.

“The flu also worsened his heart disease, high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis which directly caused the death,” said Ma Weihang, deputy head of Zhejiang Provincial Health Department.

A 32-year-old Russian man died of the virus in Beijing Monday. He arrived from Russia on Oct. 28 by air and went to hospital on Sunday with severe breathing difficulties and other symptoms.

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The Chinese mainland is seeing an increasing number of cases of the A/H1N1 flu. So far, 8 people died after contracting the virus. Many public sectors around the country are doing their best to combat the growing threat.

In Beijing, subway workers have been disinfecting facilities five times a day. And ventilation systems at newly built subway lines are working through the night. Each train is disinfected at least once a day.

In Sichuan province, people are receiving the vaccine, including many areas that were affected by last year’s earthquake.

In the municipality of Chongqing, health sectors are supplying 2 tons of traditional Chinese medicine for residents. All are free of charge.

In Shandong province, health officials have offered tips to combat the flu.

Yang Hong, Dietician of Qingdao Haici Hospital, said, “Stewed mutton is not only delicious, but can also keep out the cold and increase people’s resistance to diseases. Eating more fish, meat, eggs and milk, and boiling vinegar for disinfection, are all effective ways of preventing transmission.”

In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, department stores have stopped their central air-conditioners. They have turned on electric fans and are opening more windows and doors to keep fresh air circulating.

People are also coming up with their own ways to protect themselves against the virus.

A resident said, “We often wash our hands as well as the children’s. It’s not terrible.”

In southwestern Yunnan province, the local disease control center has strengthened quarantine and inspection measures at border checkpoints. It has printed health declaration cards and informative materials in various languages for the convenience of people entering the country.

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According to the CDC:
“The symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu virus in people include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1 and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Severe illnesses and deaths have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.”

Longer than that of regular seasonal influenza, the incubation period for swine flu is usually about 1-7 days. Try to seek medical treatment if you have symptoms like the following:

1. Clinical swine flu symptoms
Part of the patients’ condition can rapidly progress, with a sudden high fever of over 39 °C, and even secondary onset to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary hemorrhage, pleural effusion, pancytopenia, renal failure, sepsis, shock and Reye syndrome, respiratory failure and multiple organ damage, leading to death.

2. Swine flu signs
Pulmonary signs often are not so obvious, and some patients can be heard moist rales or present pulmonary consolidation and so on.

3. The prognosis of swine flu
The prognosis of human infection with swine flu subtype virus are favorable; while poor prognosis for those infected with H1N1 virus, case-fatality rate of about 6%.

4. Chest radiograph for swine flu
When combined with pneumonia lung, slice images can be seen. In serious cases, a wide range of slice images can be seen.

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The mainstream media are now reporting the onset of a swine flu “emergency.” Yet controversy is raging over the safety and efficacy of the government-approved vaccine.

The strain known as H1N1 supposedly hits children and young people the hardest. The elderly are said to be similarly at risk. Deaths are being reported, as are shortages of vaccine at some locations.

Government officials are making the TV rounds, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who says the vaccine is “safe and secure” and “right on target with an immune response.”

Yet Americans are deeply skeptical. According to a poll by AOL news, 61 percent say they do not plan to get the vaccine. Only 21 percent are “very worried” about the flu outbreak.

In fact the alliance between the federal government and the big pharmaceutical companies to push the H1N1 vaccine has ignited a populist revolt. The debate that is raging on Capitol Hill over national health care insurance had already exposed the health care industry as being far more concerned with profits than they are with people. H1N1 came along just in time to carry the revolt a step further.

An example of how the pharmaceutical industry is obsessed with the bottom line is shown by the difference in prices between proprietary medicines and their generic equivalents. A report by Life Extension magazine found that such well-known drugs as Celebrex, Lipitor, and Prozac had enormous mark-ups, topped by Xanaz, marked-up from 2.4 cents to $136.79 per 100 tablets!

No wonder many people are turning to alternative remedies, including improved nutrition or use of supplements such as vitamin C. To combat this, the government has gone on the attack, with the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sending warning letters to over 140 product vendors. On the list is famed alternative healer Dr. Andrew Weil for statements on his website about his Immune Support Formula containing astragalus, an herbal mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine that is said to increase the body’s immune response.

Another natural preventive for flu and many other illnesses is simply to drink plenty of clean, filtered water, preferably fresh spring or well water, or water that has been ionized through an alkanization process. Recently the Natural News website published an interview done several years ago with a Dr. Batmanghelidj, who published extensive research that demonstrates how many illnesses for which doctors prescribe expensive and dangerous drugs are really caused by dehydration, including many diseases affecting the elderly. Click Here

One result of dehydration, for instance, is deterioration of the walls of blood vessels. In order to repair the damage, the body produces more cholesterol, which Dr. Barmanghelidj calls “a waterproof bandage” for the cardio-vascular system. Then, when this extra cholesterol shows up in blood tests, doctors prescribe powerful drugs like Lipitor which can have devastating side-effects. It would most likely be better simply to tell people to drink more water.

Finally, the enormous pressure being brought to bear on the population to take the H1N1 vaccine has added to a huge and growing controversy over whether vaccines are safe at all. An increasing number of commentators are linking the growing use of vaccines to what some call an epidemic of childhood autism and other neurological disorders. Recall that the swine flu scare of 1976 led to discontinuation of the vaccine back then when it caused a number of deaths and a surge in paralysis from Guillan-Barre syndrome.

See for instance, the work of Dr. Andrew Moulden of Canada, whose work has linked vaccines to a “sludging” effect in the tiniest blood vessels in the brain which may be related to onset of such diseases as dementia, multiple sclerosis, autism, and even schizophrenia, along with many childhood learning disabilities. Dr. Moulen has even suggested a possible link between the frequent administration of flu vaccines to the elderly and the onset of alzheimer’s. Click Here

But there is an even deeper problem with modern medicine, which is that it is almost completely materialistic in its assumptions and approach.

Modern medicine views disease as a mechanistic process, caused either by “germs,” chemical imbalances, or genetics. This leads to the assumption that for every illness, there is a physical cure, either by killing the offending micro-organism, restoring chemical balance through a pill, or cutting out the failed or offending body part by surgery.

The materialistic outlook has even taken over the practice of psychiatric medicine. If a person is depressed, disturbed, anxious, or unhappy, don’t look at the possible causes in that person’s outlook, environment, diet, habits, addictions, or value system. Just give them an anti-depressent or even an anti-psychotic. Never mind that these drugs may just suppress symptoms or even reduce the person to almost a vegetative state. On the surface, at least, they seem to be “getting better” or at least causing less trouble!

But in some circles, an entirely different world-view is emerging. We know, for instance, about the holistic approach to medicine that sees a person as not just a bundle of chemical reflexes but a complete human being with a mind, heart, body, and spirit, all of which need to work more or less in harmony for optimum health to result.

But how often is this knowledge really practiced by people day-in and day-out?

A whole new industry of holistic health practitioners has come into existence, including those who practice acupuntrure, acupressure, reiki, hypnosis, massage, and body-work, including yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong, etc.There is also a growing awareness that a regular practice of prayer and spiritual devotion also benefits the whole person, including the physical body.

The deepest of these holistic practices may in fact be meditation. Meditative or contemplative prayer is a central component of religious practice within both the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, and meditation is the central discipline of all lines of Buddhism. Yoga also includes meditation, and in some types of yogic practice is the core discipline.

Are people who meditate more healthy? I am not aware of any scientific studies, but based on my own experience with many different types of meditation which includes association with various groups, schools, and teachers of meditation, I would have to say they appear to be. Or at least they worry less about their physical health, take illness more in stride, and are able to recover faster when it occurs.

One thing is sure: long-term practice of meditation on a daily basis seems to raise the energy level of the body. This makes a difference because the body is like an energy-filled vessel. If this energy leaks through negative emotions, unnecessary physical tension, and the constant churning of the mind, the body will suffer a general state of depletion, which is bound to make it more susceptible to disease. It also makes a difference if one avoids much of the jarring imagery churned out by the mass media through violent and disturbing films, TV programming, video games, etc.

These health-related factors which have been understood by traditional societies for millennia are also starting to be realized by millions of ordinary people in every walk of life. Combined with a nutritious diet, physical exercise, positive relationships, and productive work, a rich inner life of prayer and meditation produces a multitude of benefits, not the least of which seems to be improved physical health and greater resistance to infections such as swine flu.

By Richard C. Cook, Global Research 10/25/2009

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Yahoo Malaysia news reported that doctors at Ditan Hospital in Beijing claimed that a combination of various Chinese herbs had a 75 percent cure rate in the 117 patients treated there for swine flu.

The government had allocated 10 million yuan (about $1.5 milliom US) to research treatment of swine flu using traditional Chinese medicine, including one study comparing results with Tamiflu treatment.

Doctors at Ditan Hospital first stared treating all patients with the antiviral drug, Tamiflu plus the herbal combination, but discontinued the Tamiflu for the non-critical patients within a month after determining that the herbal medication was effective by itself.

In the article, hospital spokesman Dr. Wang Yuguang, deputy dean of the Centre of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine was quoted: “From our clinical tests and observation, the traditional method of treatment left no after effects and it is safe.” He added that the recovery period was shorter than in patients who received Tamiflu and the daily cost of the herbal remedy at about 12 yuan ($1.76 US) was lower as compared to Tamiflu treatment at 56 yuan ($8.20 US),

Wang would not reveal the actual herbs used, stating that the advantage of traditional Chinese medicine is that doctors can gear their herbal prescriptions to the specific patient’s condition. In his news briefing, he claimed that doctors at the hospital had recently used this approach with high-risk patients with good results. Given these findings, the Chinese government has apparently advised hospitals to use traditional treatment as a first line approach and resort to Western medicine only after Chinese medicine fails.

In the meantime, while 11 Chinese companies work on developing a swine flu vaccine to prevent the disease, Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital has introduced an A/H1N1 swine flu prevention herbal medicine pack which, according to Jin Wei, Deputy Director of the hospital, contains seven small packs of four types of herbs in combination and taken mixed with hot water as a tea or used as mouthwash. Jin Wei said the pack could even cure mild cases of swine flu, but that if patients did not recover after taking the herbs for seven days, they were advised to go to the hospital for further treatment.

According to the news article, the combination of the herbs is as follows:

Lonicera Japonica Thund (honeysuckle flower)-3 grams,
Isatis Indigodica- 3 gms,
Mentha Haplocalyx Brip (mint).-3 gms
Glycyrrhiza Glabra(licorice)-3 gms.

These herbs are available in Chinese herbal medicine shops. It should be noted that a search of the scientific literature, the web and discussions with infectious disease colleagues did not produce a primary source for these claims, so the herbs and their doses reported in the news article may or may not be accurate.

What are these herbs and what do they purport to do?

Laboratory investigations of lonicera have mainly focused on demonstrating anti-inflammatory actions. In vitro and animal studies indicate antibacterial and antiviral activity (mainly tested for seasonal influenza). In traditional Chinese medicine it is used almost exclusively for prevention and treatment of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections, sore throats and general flu-like symptoms

Also known as Woad root, this herb is thought to have very broad anti-infection properties, which partly explains its repeated use in these formulas. It contains the dye indigo (a crude form is used as the Chinese medicinal substance qingdai), which has been used worldwide as an antimicrobial medicine.

These are Chinese peppermints and were described by the Chinese as early as 470 AD in the Oriental Materia Medica as a treatment for fever, headaches, excessive tearing, sore throat, oral and skin lesions, rash, and toothache. The principal active constituents of mentha are the essential oils, which comprise about 1% of the herb. They dilate peripheral blood vessels, inducing perspiration and alleviating aching.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra (European licorice)
Therapeutic use of licorice dates back to the Roman Empire. Hippocrates (460BC) extolled its use as an expectorant and gas reliever. It is one of the most commonly used herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica and is traditionally said to “harmonize” a formula in Chinese medicine, acting as a guide drug to enhance the activity of other ingredients, reducing toxicity, as well as improving flavor. In Western medicine it is commonly found in cough medicines. Recognized side effects of prolonged use includes hypertension, water retention, sodium retention and loss of potassium.

The theory in traditional Chinese medicine is that rather than using a single herb or a single formulation to treat an infection like flu, a collection of herbs and formulas working together will produce a better response in the patient. Many of these formulations evaluated in large scale studies in China from the 1950s through the 1970s claimed to demonstrate preventive properties. These findings, which appeared in Chinese medical journals and books, were reviewed at the Institute for Traditional Medicine (ITM) in Oregon. In a 2006 report, Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD, Director of ITM, explained that “while there is insufficient proof from these studies that Chinese herbal therapies can cure or impede influenza because of problems in methodology and reporting, practitioners of Chinese medicine and their patients are convinced of the efficacy of this approach.”

Routine prescription of Chinese herbs for seasonal flu or other therapeutic applications continues to be limited primarily to those countries like China, Japan and Korea where traditional herbal medicine is officially recognized. In other countries, including the US, herbs are available mainly through the work of licensed acupuncturists, naturopaths, and other non-M.D. practitioners, as well as through direct marketing of products to consumers.

Although Chinese research has recently been tainted by allegations of widespread fraud,
there is clearly much to be learned from the potential use of herbs to treat various diseases including swine flu. As Americans turn more and more to alternative medicine, it will be critical to have good scientific data to document the safety and efficacy of herbal formulations. It is important to remember that herbs, though “natural” often have strong medicinal properties that may include dangerous side effects.
- Deborah Shlian Miami Health Care Examiner

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