Active ingredient of ‘mou dan pi’ fights diabetes

February 20, 2007  
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CM NEWSMou dan pi (cortex moutan, ???, ????; root bark of Paeonia suffruticosa Andrews) is one of the common herbs found in anti-diabetic traditional Chinese medicine formulae. However, what constitutes its anti-diabetic effect is established only recently in a study by researchers in Hong Kong. Read more

Toxic herb ‘lei gong teng’ can limit tumour growth

February 17, 2007  
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CM NEWS – A substance in traditional Chinese herb lei gong teng (???, Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f., Radix Tripterygium wilfordii, three-wing-nut) is found to be effective in prohibiting tumour growth in colon cancer and leukemia patients, according to a recently published study completed by the Institute of Hematologic Disease at Zhejiang University, China.

Triptolide (??????, ?????; extract of lei gong teng), a traditional Chinese medicine, has been reported to be effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and exerting antineoplastic activity in several human tumour cell lines. Lei gong teng has been used hundreds of years in Chinese medicine for treating arthritis. Scientists have been interested in its anti-tumour effect in recent years.

In one study, using triptolide on leukemia mice has prolonged survival rates to as high as 158%. Other studies have shown that triptolide can also inhibit cancer cells of the stomach, by causing the cancer cells to destroy themselves. As much as half of the cancer cells died off in just two days.

Studies done at the University of Hong Kong on arthritis have found that triptolide can prohibit the activities of ultra-active immune cells that cause arthritis, and can inhibit the T-cells from growing and populating. Leader investigator Liu Zexing (???) said the function of triptolide seems not to be kiling the undesirable cells, but to induce them to die in a natural way.

Lei gong teng is also famous for its high toxidity.

In the present study done in Zhejiang University, scientists investigated the antitumour effect of triptolide in human colon cancer cells and myelocytic leukemia. Results showed that triptolide inhibited the proliferation of both tumour cell lines in a dose-dependent manner.

The results suggested that the cancer-fighting characteristics of triptolide might have been achieved through strongly inhibiting an inflammatory enzyme and lowering the activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase gene (iNOS).

How does this work? By regulating the expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase gene (iNOS), macrophages (large white blood cells) can kill tumour cells by releasing high levels of nitric oxide (NO) and related reactive nitrogen species such as nitroxyl and peroxynitrite.

What is COX? Cyclooxygenase (COX) is an enzyme that is responsible for formation of important biological mediators called prostanoids (including prostaglandins, prostacyclin and thromboxane). Pharmacological inhibition of COX can provide relief from the symptoms of inflammation and pain; this is the method of action of well-known drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

[Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2007 Feb;39(2):89-95.]

Acupuncture helps control pain during delivery, study finds

February 14, 2007  
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acupuncture needle, pain, deliveryCM NEWSAcupuncture is able to help first time moms to better endure pain and labour duration during delivery without side effects, according to a recently published study.

In this randomized controlled trial completed in the Department of Obstetrics and , Vali Asr Research Centre for Reproductive Health, Imam Medical Complex, Tehran, Iran, 144 healthy nulliparous women in active phase were randomised into the study and control group, receiving real and minimal acupuncture, respectively. Visual analogue scale was used to assess pain. Objectives were to evaluate acupuncture effect on pain and labour duration and patients’ willingness to receive acupuncture for subsequent pregnancies.

The aim of the trial is to assess the effects of acupuncture on nulliparous women during labour with respect to pain, labour duration and maternal acceptability.

The results showed that visual analogue scale pain score in the study group was lower after two hours. Active phase duration and the oxytocin units administered were lower in the study group. Study group patients had greater willingness to receive acupuncture again. No adverse effects were detected.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture could reduce pain experience, active phase duration and oxytocin units. Patients were satisfied and no adverse effects were noted.

[Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Feb;47(1):26-30 ]

Chinese medicine relieves arthritis, protects joints

February 13, 2007  
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wuyao, radix linderae, arthritis, chinese medicineCM NEWS – A group of Chinese researchers find that a TCM herb radix linderae (wu yao, ??; aka ??????????) could be used in treating rheumatoid arthritis because radix linderae is found to be able to suppresses inflammation and protects joints from destruction.

The study was done by scientists at the Department of Pharmacology of Chinese Materia Medica, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China.

Radix linderae, the dry roots of Lindera aggregata (Sims) Kosterm., is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. It contains alkaloids, volatile oils and sesquiterpene esters.

What are contained in radix linderae? A nets aporphinoid alkaloid, trivially named linderaline (1), along with eight known isoquinoline alkaloids as (-)-pallidine (2), protosinomenine (3), laudanosoline 3′,4′-dimethyl ether (4), boldine (5), norisoboldine (6), laurolitsine (7), pronuciferine (8) and reticulline (9) were isolated from ethanol extract of the dried root of Lindera aggregata (Sims) Kosterm. Their structures were established on the basis of the spectral analysis. Compounds 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 were found from the plant for the first time.

In the present study, researchers investigated the therapeutic potential and underlying mechanisms of the total alkaloids from Radix Linderae (TARL) on collagen II-induced arthritis in mice.

The results indicated that TARL (50, 100 and 200mg/kg), orally administered on the same day of an antigen challenge for 20 consecutive days, alleviated disease severity in a dose-dependent manner, while it did not significantly affect body weights.

Researchers also found that the TARL treatment reduced the serum level of anti-CII IgG (IgG is the most abundant form, or class, of antibody in the blood), and suppressed the delayed type hypersensitivity.

What is hypersensitivity? Hypersensitivity refers to undesirable (damaging, discomfort-producing and sometimes fatal) reactions produced by the normal immune system. Hypersensitivity reactions require a pre-sensitized (immune) state of the host.

What is delayed type hypersensitivity? This is the only class of hypersensitive reactions to be triggered by antigen-specific T cells, which are linked to inflammation. This type of hypersensitivity is often called “delayed type” as the reaction takes two to three days to develop. Unlike the other types, it is not antibody mediated but rather is a type of cell-mediated response. T cells belong to a group of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and play a central role in cell-mediated immunity. Antigen-specific T cells provides the immune system with “memory” against past infections.

TARL also protected joint destruction based on the evidence of reducing the histopathological scores (which are the total scores based on the sum of peribronchial, perivascular, interstitial, and alveolar inflammation).

The researchers thus conclude that TARL is a potential therapeutic agent for rheumatoid arthritis that suppresses inflammation and protects joints from destruction.

[J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Dec 13]

Chinese medicine powder, decoction as effective as Prozac

February 11, 2007  
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CM NEWS – Chinese researchers have been able to demonstrate in a recent study that the combined use of two ancient traditional Chinese medical formulas has a similar effect of Prozac for the treatment of depression-driven somatic disorders.

The objective of the study done at the the Eighth People’s Hospital of Zhengzhou City by HT Yu is to compare the efficacy of Chinese medicine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), fluoxetine (brand name Prozac), on somatic disorder and to explore the advantage of Chinese medicine. The two Chinese medicinal formulas used are Xiaoyao Powder (???) and Wendan Decoction (???). Read more