It’s official: Tea recognized as health product in Canada

May 29, 2007  
Filed under Dietary, TCM use & research

Tea Assn press release – Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) has deemed tea to be a natural health product and has officially recognized tea for its role in maintaining good health.

After a period of extensive review, the NHPD has approved three health claims for tea. All types of tea infusions (black, green and oolong) are recognized as a source of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health. tea is approved for increasing alertness. And tea is further accredited as helping to maintain and/or support cardiovascular health. Read more

Green tea protects against gallbladder cancer, bile stones

May 26, 2007  
Filed under Cancer

CM NEWS – Tea consumption might have been linked to reduced risks of gallbladder cancers and bile stones, although the mechanism is yet to be determined, a large study says.

In another post, green tea is reported to cut colon cancer risks by as much as 60%.

Biliary tract cancers, encompassing tumours of the gallbladder, extrahepatic bile ducts and ampulla of Vater, are rare but highly fatal malignancies. Apart from gallstones, etiologic factors for biliary tract cancer are not clearly defined. Read more

Acupressure brings better breathing to depressive patients

May 26, 2007  
Filed under Depression, mental health

acupressure, depression, breathCM NEWS – Acupressure is effective in lessening shortness of breath in patients with depression, which could help remove the psychological pressure of dyspnea of these patients, a Taiwan study shows. Read more

Diuretic Chinese medicine found to limit tumour growth

May 24, 2007  
Filed under Cancer

chinese medicine, tumour, long kui

CM NEWS – A centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine used commonly as a diuretic and fever fighting drug has been newly discovered as being able to inhibit tumour growth in mice with cervical cancer. Read more

Alternative medicine popular in Canada: survey

May 23, 2007  
Filed under TCM use & research

traditional chinese medicine, chinese doctor, alternative medicineFraser Institute – More than half of Canadians surveyed in 2006 reported using at least one form of complementary or alternative medicine or treatment during the previous year, according to a new report published today by independent research organization, The Fraser Institute.

The report, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Canada: Trends in Use and Public Attitudes, 1997-2006, is based on a survey of 2,000 adult Canadians conducted in 2006. It follows up on a similar survey done in 1997.

The survey showed 54% of respondents used at least one form of alternative or complementary therapy in the year prior to the survey, an increase of four percentage points over the 1997 result of 50%.

“This increased use of alternative therapies is another indicator of Canadians’ desire to have more choice and control over their health care options,” said Nadeem Esmail, The Fraser Institute’s Director of Health System Performance and author of the report.

The most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines and therapies reported were massage (19%), prayer (16%), chiropractic care (15%), relaxation techniques (14%), and herbal therapies (10%).

Most users of alternative therapies said they did so to prevent future illness from occurring or to maintain health and vitality. Of those who used alternative medicine in the 12 months prior to the 2006 survey, 53% of respondents (down slightly from 56% in 1997) had not discussed their use of alternative medicine with their doctor.

On a provincial basis, Alberta saw the largest increase in the use of alternative therapies in the year previous to the 2006 survey (68% compared to 54% in 1997), followed by Ontario (55% compared to 50% in 1997), and British Columbia (64% from 60% in 1997). Quebec and Saskatchewan/ Manitoba both experienced a 1% increase, moving from 44 to 45 and from 58 to 59% respectively, while Atlantic Canada experienced a decrease in the use of alternative therapies, falling to 39% in 2006 from 45% in 1997.

Despite the increased use of alternative medicine, the majority of Canadians still consider medical doctors the main providers of health care with almost half of respondents in 2006 seeing a doctor before turning to a provider of alternative therapy. Additionally, a higher proportion of respondents saw a medical doctor for their condition regarding treatment for eight of the 10 most common medical conditions.

“These results show Canadians retain confidence in physicians. But since many of the most common problems Canadians suffer from are chronic – allergies, back or neck problems, arthritis and rheumatism – they require more than just symptomatic treatment. Consequently, Canadians are looking for alternatives,” Esmail said.

What is interesting, he added, is that most alternative and complementary treatments are not covered by government health insurance plans. Yet a large number of people choose those options.

“When it comes to health and well-being, a significant number of Canadians are willing to spend their own money.”

Esmail estimates that Canadians spent approximately $7.8 billion out of pocket on alternative medicine in the year before the 2006 survey — a significant increase from the nearly $5.4 billion (inflation-adjusted) spent in 1997. In 2006, more than $5.6 billion was spent on providers of alternative therapy, while another $2.2 billion was spent on herbs, vitamins, special diet programs, books, classes and equipment.

But the survey also shows the majority of Canadians (59%) believe that alternative therapies should be paid for privately, not by provincial health plans. The highest level of support for private payment came from the group that used alternative therapy the most: 58% of 18- to 34-year-olds used alternative therapies in the 12 months prior to the 2006 survey, and 62% of them preferred that individuals pay for it privately.

Regionally, support for private payment in 2006 was strongest in Quebec and Saskatchewan/Manitoba (66%) and weakest in Atlantic Canada (50%). This is a notable change from 1997 when support was strongest in Atlantic Canada (71%) and weakest in British Columbia (48%).

“In 2006, 74% of Canadians say they have used alternative therapies at some point in their lifetimes, and more than half of Canadians have used alternative therapies in the year prior to the survey,” Esmail said.

“However, there are some notable differences between the regions in Canada with respect to both use and attitudes towards alternative medicine. Albertans and British Columbians are more likely to see value in alternative therapies while skepticism reigns in Atlantic Canada. A national consensus on this issue is highly improbable.”

Complete report here.

‘Healthy immigrant effect’ holds for pregnancy: study

May 22, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorised

CBC – Newcomers to Canada should be discouraged from adopting the unhealthy diet and couch-potato lifestyle of long-term residents, say researchers who found recent immigrants had a lower risk of complications during pregnancy.

Previous studies have found that new immigrants have lower rates of chronic disease such as hypertension, heart disease and cancer — the so-called “healthy immigrant effect.” The healthy effect fades after a decade, and immigrants tend to pack on pounds within a generation.

In the Results of the Recent Immigrant Pregnancy and Perinatal Long-term Evaluation Study, or RIPPLES, study appearing in Tuesday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Joel Ray of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and his colleagues at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found the healthy immigrant effect also extends to a pregnancy complication called maternal placental syndrome.

The syndrome is defined as a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia (a sudden increase in a woman’s blood pressure in late pregnancy), eclampsia (a serious form of poisoning in pregnancy), premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, or a sudden blockage of the blood supply to the placenta.

The risk of the syndrome was lowest among women who immigrated within three months of delivering, and highest for those who had lived in Ontario for five years or more before giving birth, the team found.

“A reasonable public health recommendation based on the findings from RIPPLES and other studies is that we should aim to preserve the apparent healthier state of new immigrant women through policies designed to discourage the adoption of adverse lifestyle choices,” the study’s authors concluded.

“For long-term immigrants and native-born residents, the goal should be to improve their health status.”

For all Canadians, the approach includes promoting nutritious eating before pregnancy to prevent obesity, as well as higher physical activity from childhood through early adulthood and limits on calorie intake, they said.

Factors that can harm the health of the placenta and fetus, such as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, also increased the longer immigrants lived in the province, the researchers found.

Currently, immigrants are carefully screened to ensure they are in good health, and may be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they have end-stage organ disease, certain cancers, infectious diseases or need long-term nursing care, the study’s authors said.

The study’s findings support expanding the scope and focus of immigrant screening away from exclusion for disease and toward sustaining and improving the health of immigrants, such as addressing their reproductive health needs, Dr. Brian Gushulak of Migration Health Consultants said in a journal commentary accompanying the study.

Describing and quantifying the healthy immigrant effect also helps to reduce the wrong impression that immigrants frequently need or use excessive amounts of medical services, he added.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these studies provide information that will generate better tools and interventions to maintain the health of those representing the largest component of Canada’s population growth,” Gushulak wrote.

Consumers warned about toxicity of traditional medicines

May 22, 2007  
Filed under TCM use & research

Reuters – About 200,000 people die in China each year from improper use of drugs, Chinese doctors and pharmacists say, and they are calling for greater efforts to educate consumers.

Mainland Chinese rely more on traditional Chinese medicines than on Western drugs and they tend to use them carelessly because of a widespread misconception that traditional medicines are not toxic or have no side effects.

“People should be told that they can’t consume drugs any way they want. There is no drug that has no side effects, they must not take drugs like they eat rice,” said Professor Jin Shiming, a committee member of the Guangdong Provincial Science and Technological Association.

Speaking at a conference on drug safety organized by the Guangdong Province Association of traditional Chinese medicine and a Chinese newspaper, Jin said nearly 200,000 people die each year from improper use of legitimate drugs. He did not explain how the panelists had calculated that number.

“All drugs have some level of toxicity. We can only cut back on the toxicity and reduce adverse reactions with accurate usage,” he said.

Jin and other experts at the seminar described patients who took excessive doses of traditional medicine in the belief that they would recover more quickly.

Traditional Chinese doctor Mei Quanxi from the Zhongshan Chinese Medicine Hospital cited a case where a man died after consuming a whole ginseng root that his wife bought him. Ginseng is used in the treatment of diabetes and sexual dysfunction.

“If you use a lot of it as a tonic, it is dangerous, which is why we have a saying that ginseng can kill,” Mei told Reuters after the conference.

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