Posts Tagged ‘traditional chinese medicine’


SOME couples struggle to conceive, especially when infertility might be an underlying problem.

And besides undergoing Western fertility treatments, some are turning to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for help.

TCM treatments include herbal remedies and acupuncture, which are meant to bring the body into balance and thus facilitate conception.

But those who turn to TCM should know that TCM isn’t a quick fix, said physician Loh Kim Gek, 55.

As with Western medicine, a substantial amount of time and patience may be required before a couple sees a successful result.

With TCM, couples need to undergo at least nine to 12 months of consistent treatment, said Ms Loh, who is one of four physicians at the fertility unit in free clinic Singapore Thong Chai Medical Institution.

Ms Loh, who has more than 20 years of experience, added: “I feel a sense of satisfaction when my patients bring along their babies to meet me. It makes me very happy.”

She has helped about 30 per cent of some 900 couples to conceive.

She said that the success rate could have been as high as 50 per cent if some of those couples had stuck to their treatment without giving up halfway.

Although women are traditionally blamed for fertility problems, Ms Loh said that, in seven out of 10 cases, the problem actually lies with the male.

She will give a talk on Saturday to explain how TCM can help to boost fertility, and how one can improve one’s constitution. my paper gets her to answer some questions from readers.

Why would TCM be better than Western medicine in fertility treatments?


Ms Loh: TCM treatment for gynaecological problems has a long history in China, and has proved to be effective.

To me, TCM and Western medicine serve complementary needs. TCM treats the root problem, while Western medicine tackles the symptoms.

For instance, if you have ovulation problems or problems with the quality of your ovaries, TCM treatment – which comprises Chinese medicine as well as acupuncture – can improve the function of the ovaries. TCM can also help strengthen men’s sperm to enable a higher chance of conception.

But if you have problems such as a blockage in your fallopian tube due to ovarian cysts, then I would recommend Western treatment to remove them. My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for two years.

What can we do to improve our chances of conceiving?

MR J. Y. QUEK, 31

Ms Loh: Firstly, you should learn how to be free of worry. When people are anxious, it will affect the quality of a woman’s ovaries and the effectiveness of sperm. In my talk, I will share some simple methods for relieving stress.

Secondly, you need to build up your constitution and prevent development of illnesses. Illnesses during the ovulation period can greatly affect conception.

You can improve your general health by drinking teas, such as chrysanthemum and wolfberry tea, boiled dried longan, American ginseng and red dates, or wolfberry and lily tea with some brown sugar. But do consult your TCM physician to see if these are suitable for your condition, and seek treatment as soon as possible.

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    A  survey was recently conducted in Hong Kong on the cancer patients’attitudes towards Chinese medicine treatment. Methods Cancer patients from three Chinese medicine clinics and one oncology clinic were interviewed with a structured questionnaire.

    Results Of a total of 786 participants included in the study, 42.9% used Western medicine only; 57.1% used at least one form of Chinese medicine; 5 participants used Chinese medicine only; and 56.5% used Chinese medicine before/during/after Western medicine treatment. Commonly used Western medicine and Chinese medicine treatments included chemotherapy (63.7%), radiotherapy (62.0%), surgery (57.6%), Chinese herbal medicine (53.9%) and Chinese dietary therapy (9.5%).

    Participants receiving chemotherapy used Chinese medicine (63.3%) more than those receiving any other Western medicine treatments. Spearman correlation coefficients showed that the selection of Chinese medicine was associated with the cancer type (rs=-1.36; P<0.001), stage (rs=0.178; P<0.001), duration (rs=-0.074; P=0.037), whether receiving chemotherapy (rs=0.165; P<0.001) and palliative therapy (rs=0.087; P=0.015).

    Nearly two-thirds of the participants (N=274) did not tell their physicians about using Chinese medicine. Over two-thirds of all participants (68.2%) believed that integrated Chinese and Western medicine was effective.Conclusion Chinese medicine is commonly used among Hong Kong cancer patients.

    The interviewed cancer patients in Hong Kong considered integrative Chinese and Western medicine is an effective cancer treatment.
Source: Chinese Medicine 2009, 4:25

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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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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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Arthritis is not just 1 disease is a complex disease that includes more than 100 different conditions and can affect people at any stage of life. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. During these 2 very different forms of arthritis, causes, risk factors and their effects on the body, often share a symptom persistent joint pain.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the United States and is estimated to affect 21 million adults. OA begins with the degradation of articular cartilage, causing pain and stiffness.

)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA can affect many different joints, and some people in other parts of the body, including blood, lungs and heart. Arthritis, diet, such as the synovium, can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, heat and redness. The public may also be affected lose their shape, resulting in the loss of normal movement. RA can last a long time and is a disease of flares (active symptoms) and remissions (few) have no symptoms.

The acupuncture points for treatment of arthritis in the whole body, not only directly affected by the region. During the acupuncture treatment may in small needles for the legs, arms, shoulders, and maybe even a little leg!

There seems little sensitivity to the integration of acupuncture needles. It is so thin that acupuncture needles can go more in the middle of a hypodermic needle. Sometimes there is a brief moment of discomfort when the needle penetrates the skin, but when the needles are there to relax and fall asleep, most people, even during treatment.

The length, number and frequency of treatment may vary. Typical applications last five to 30 minutes, with patients who received one or two times a week. Some signs of relief after the first treatment, while more serious or chronic illnesses require more frequent treatments.
There are many Chinese herbal medicine prescribed for arthritis. Acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the start of their illness and learn the signs and symptoms to determine what herbs are best for you.

Remove dejection SSI (John Tang BI) – For joint pain increases with the cold and weight and may be accompanied by numbness in the extremities. Cinnamon Twig, Peony, and the dejection Anamerrhena (GUI Zhi Zhi Tang that SHOA mu) – For the swelling and joint pain, hot to the touch and worse at night.
Angelica pubescent and Sangjisheng dejection (Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang), together with – in serious and painful sensations at fixed locations in the middle and lower extremities due to weakness and stiffness.

Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help people with arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

In a Scandinavian study, 25 per cent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it canceled plans for the activity of knee surgery after an acupuncture treatment. In the study, researchers compared acupuncture with advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip. Thirty-two patients awaiting total hip replacement were divided into 2 groups. One group received 10 minutes and 25 minutes and five sessions of acupuncture and the other group received counseling and hip exercises for 6 weeks.

Patients were evaluated for pain and functional ability: Patients in the acupuncture group showed significant improvement, whereas no significant changes in the group, opinions and exercise therapy have been reported. The results of this study indicate that acupuncture is more effective than exercise and advice on the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip.

Another study at the University of Maryland showed that the improvement of elderly patients with rheumatoid arthritis with pain in knee arthritis due to significant when acupuncture treatment recorded.

The randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to determine whether acupuncture is clinically safe and effective adjuvant therapy for older patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture is added to conventional therapy produced an additional measure of pain relief;
It will be the effect of acupuncture for the past 4 weeks after treatment;
We acupuncture and side effects?

To increase even though no studies to continue the popularity of acupuncture for arthritis, because most people have significant relief of Oriental medicine without adverse side effects have been found by Western medicine.

Your diet plays a key role to prevent or manage arthritis. The first objective of a healthy diet to help lose weight if overweight. Obesity can lead to additional load on the joints.

The second form is a varied and balanced diet can help relieve arthritis pain by providing vitamins and minerals to keep your joints and prevent liquid foods such as dairy products and fatty or spicy foods.

If you have arthritis or knee pain or hip, vitamin C and vitamin D may help prevent bone and cartilage destruction. And a multivitamin can ensure that you always have the nutrition it needs.

Here are some other healthy (and tasty) choices in their diet.

Ginger – A natural anti-inflammatory, as a powder in capsules, extracts, alcohol-based extracts. Follow dosage instructions on the label. A bit of tea or a combination of half a teaspoon of grated ginger with eight ounces of boiling water. Drain cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, and season to taste with honey.
Fresh pineapple – bromelain, an enzyme, pineapple, reduces inflammation. Make sure the pineapple is fresh, not canned or frozen.
Cherries – Recent research has shown that tart cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that can contribute to joint pain and inflammation, reduce the association of arthritis.
Fish – Cold water fish like salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids that help healthy joints and reduce pain and swelling. If we consider a value for the fish to your diet with fish oil capsules as a supplement.
Turmeric – Another natural anti-inflammatory. For a piece of turmeric as a whole, the health food store, follow the dosage instructions on the label.

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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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A blinded randomised trial of acupuncture has compared the effect of acupuncture with that of a non-penetrating sham in patients with osteoarthritic knee pain. Sixty-eight acupuncture naïve patients with symptomatic and radiological evidence of osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly allocated to a course of either acupuncture or non-penetrating sham acupuncture using a sheathed ‘placebo’ needle. Acupuncture points for pain and stiffness were selected according to TCM acupuncture theory for treating Bi syndrome. Both manual and electrical stimulation were used. Response was assessed using the WOMAC index for osteoarthritis of the knee. Comparison between the two treatment groups found a significantly greater improvement with acupuncture than with sham. Within the acupuncture group there was a significant improvement in pain, which was not seen by those who had sham acupuncture. One month after treatment, the between-group pain difference had been lost, although the acupuncture group still experienced benefit compared with baseline. (A blinded randomised trial of acupuncture (manual and electroacupuncture) compared with a non-penetrating sham for the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Acupunct Med. 2008 Jun;26(2):69-78.)

A review, carried out by American researchers, of ten randomised, controlled trials (1456 participants) of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee have concluded that it is an effective treatment for the pain and physical dysfunction caused by the condition. (Acupuncture and osteoarthritis of the knee: a review of randomized, controlled trials. Fam Community Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;31(3):247-54).

A meta-analysis by American researchers has evaluated the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Biomedical databases were searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs), longer than six weeks in duration, which compared needle acupuncture with sham, usual care, or a waiting list control group. Eleven trials met the selection criteria and nine reported sufficient data for pooling. Compared with patients in waiting list control groups, patients who received acupuncture reported clinically relevant short-term improvements in pain and function. They also reported clinically relevant short- and long-term improvements in pain and function, when compared with patients in usual care control groups. Compared with sham control, acupuncture was found to provide clinically irrelevant short-term improvements in pain and function and clinically irrelevant long-term improvements in pain and function. The authors blame the variability of acupuncture and sham protocols, patient samples and settings for the heterogeneity displayed by the results of sham controlled trials. They also suggest that some of the clinically relevant benefits of acupuncture may be due to placebo or expectation effects. (Meta-analysis: acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jun 19;146(12):868-77.)

A review of recent research into acupuncture treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee explores whether any aspects of treatment are more likely to be associated with good outcomes. Based on their evaluation of four recent randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and a systematic review (which included 13 RCTs), the authors speculate that optimal results from acupuncture treatment for OA of the knee may involve: climatic factors (particularly high temperature); high patient expectation; use of a minimum of four needles; use of electroacupuncture (rather than manual acupuncture), in particular, use of strong electrical stimulation to needles placed in muscle; and a course of at least 10 treatments. (Evidence from RCTs on optimal acupuncture treatment for knee osteoarthritis-an exploratory review. Acupunct Med. 2007 Jun;25(1-2):29-35).

Analysis of the results of a large German randomised, controlled trial (RCT) has led to the conclusion that acupuncture can be a cost-effective adjunctive treatment for chronic osteoarthritis pain. Acupuncture treatment plus routine care was evaluated against routine care alone in 418 cases of chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, using health insurance providers’ data and standardised questionnaires. Patients receiving acupuncture had an improved QoL associated with significantly higher costs over the three-month treatment period, compared with routine care alone. However, having performed a cost-effectiveness calculation, based on calculating quality-life adjusted years (QALYs) the authors concluded that acupuncture was a cost-effective treatment strategy in this patient group, with female patients achieving a better cost-effectiveness ratio than men. (Quality of life and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis pain. Eur J Health Econ. 2007 Jul 19; [Epub ahead of print]).

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