Consumers warned about toxicity of traditional medicines

May 22, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

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.

New TCM formula fights male immune infertility

May 17, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

CM NEWS – A Chinese medicinal formula, Huzhangdanshenyin (?????), derived by researchers in Xiamen, China has been proved more effective than corticosteroids in targetting male immune infertility – but without the side effects of steroids.

What is male immune infertility? Sperm are relatively protected from the immune system by a natural protective mechanism called the blood-testes barrier. Tight connections between the cells lining the male reproductive tract keep immune cells from gaining entry to the sperm within. If an injury breaches this barrier, then the immune system has access to sperm and antibodies are formed.

Antisperm antibodies have been reported in approximately 10% of infertile men, compared to less than 1% of fertile men. The prevalence of antibodies jumps dramatically in men who have had surgery on their reproductive tract: nearly 70% of men who have undergone a vasectomy reversal will have antibodies present on their sperm. Women have a much lower chance for developing antibodies to sperm: less than 5% of infertile women can be shown to have antisperm antibodies, and it is unclear who is at risk for their formation.

Who is at risk for antisperm antibodies?

Anything that disrupts the normal blood-testes barrier can result in the formation of antisperm antibodies. This may include any of the following conditions:

  • Vasectomy reversal
  • Varicocele (dilation of the veins surrounding the spermatic cord)
  • Testicular torsion (twisting of the testicle)
  • Congenital absence of the vas deferens
  • Testicular biopsy
  • Cryptorchidism (failure of testicular descent)
  • Testicular cancer
  • Infection (orchitis, prostatitis)
  • Inguinal hernia repair prior to puberty

The study done at the Department of Andrology, Xiamen TCM Hospital Affiliated to Fujian TCM College selected 90 men with immune infertility and randomly divided them into two groups: 60 in the treatment group, treated by Huzhangdanshenyin, and the other 30 in the control, treated by prednisone, both for 3 months.

What is prednisone? Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid drug which is usually taken orally but can be delivered by intramuscular injection and can be used for a large number of different conditions. It has a mainly glucocorticoid effect. Prednisone is a prodrug that is converted by the liver into prednisolone, which is the active drug and also a steroid.

Prednisone is particularly effective as an immunosuppressant and affects virtually all of the immune system. It can therefore be used in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases (such as severe asthma, severe poison ivy dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn’s disease), various kidney diseases including nephrotic syndrome, and to prevent and treat rejection in organ transplantation. This medicine may also reduce the sex drive.

Huzhangdanshenyin was derived these researchers. The formula includes:

Hu zhang (??) 15g

Pu gong ying (???; Herba Taraxaci Mongolici cum Radice, dandelion) 15g

Zi cao (??, radix arnebia, stoneweed) 15g

Huang qi (??, Radix astragali) 15g

Dan shen (??, Salvia miltiorrhiza, or Chinese sage) 15g

Chi shao (??, root of common peony) 15g

Dang gui (??, Radix Angelicae sinensis, roots of Chinese angelica) 15g

Hong hua (??, Flos Carthami Tinctorii) 10g

Shou wu (??, Radix Polygoni Multiflori, Chinese knotweed) 15g

Nu zhen zi (???, Fructus Ligustri Lucidi, privet fruit) 15g

Sheng di (??, Rehmannia Radix) 15g

Xian ling pi (???, Herba Epimedii, epimedium) 15g

The researchers then observed the subjects’ improvement of clinical symptoms, immunologic indexes (antisperm antibodies in serum and seminal plasma) and sperm indexes (semen liquefied duration, motility, viability, density and abnormal morphology rate).

How do antisperm antibodies cause infertility?

Antibodies that attach to the sperm may impair motility and make it harder for them to penetrate the cervical mucus and gain entrance to the egg; they may also cause the sperm to clump together, which is occasionally noted on a routine semen analysis. Antibodies may also interfere with the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg.

What treatments are available for antisperm antibodies?

Suppressing the immune system with corticosteroids may decrease the production of antibodies but can result in serious side effects, including severe damage to the hipbone. Intrauterine insemination, with or without the use of fertility medications, has been used for the treatment of antisperm antibodies. It is believed to work by delivering the sperm directly into the uterus and fallopian tubes, thus bypassing the cervical mucus.

The total antisperm antibody reversing ratio of the treatment group was higher than that of the control (P < 0.01), especially the serum antisperm antibody reversing ratio. There were significant differences in the clinical cure rate and total validity rate between the treatment group and the control (P < 0.01).

After the treatment, the markers of the clinical symptoms were lower (P < 0.01), and the improvement of the clinical symptoms was better in the treatment group than in the control (P < 0.01), especially the symptoms of pain in the back and knees, distending and bearing-down sensation of the perineum and testis, hypersexuality and topoalgia.

Compared with pre-treatment, sperm motility and viability of the treatment group significantly improved (P < 0.01), and so did sperm density (P < 0.05). However, there were no significant differences in sperm density, semen liquefied duration, abnormal morphology rate and pH (P > 0.05) before and after the treatment.

In conclusion, the study says Huzhangdanshenyin works more effectively than prednisone in the treatment of male immune infertility. It could improve the antisperm antibody reversing ratio, clinical symptoms and signs and ameliorate sperm indexes with no obvious advierse effects.

[Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue. 2006 Aug;12(8):750-5; Chinese text here.]

Breast milk newest weapon to fight cancer

May 16, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

2/3 Chinese seniors in Canada use both TCM, Western medicine: study

May 15, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

CBC – A University of Calgary professor says doctors need to be more open-minded when it comes to traditional Chinese medicine because it’s used commonly among older Chinese immigrants.

Daniel Lai surveyed more than 2,000 Chinese immigrants aged 55 and over in seven major Canadian cities, including Calgary and Edmonton.

His results, published recently in the Family Practice Advanced Access Journal, found that two-thirds of Canada’s elderly Chinese immigrants are using traditional Chinese medicine in combination with the Western health-care system.

“Quite a significant number of them have used traditional Chinese medicine as a complementary way of maintaining their health or as a way of dealing with illnesses or diseases that they don’t find Western medicines as effective for them.”

Lany Woo, nearly 70 years old, is diabetic and has lung cancer. In addition to the usual insulin and chemotherapy treatments, Woo grinds a type of mushroom into a powder and boils it into a tea.

Woo is convinced the traditional Chinese medicine — in combination with regular doctors visits and drugs — is helping her health, improving her immune system and making her stronger.

Lai said his study shows many doctors are not listening to patients like Woo when they want to talk about alternative therapies.

“Very often family physicians do not know about the chemical reaction of combining various kinds of herbal medicine and Western medicine. I think there is definitely health concern to the patients.”

The best way for doctors to address the problem is to educate themselves and talk to their patients openly about alternative therapies, he said.

Few herb users check scientific backings

May 15, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

WebMD – About two–thirds of people taking herbal supplements to treat a health condition don’t check scientific guidelines, say University of Iowa researchers. Read more

Gene linked to obesity found

May 14, 2007  
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Constipation gets relief from moxibustion

May 13, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

moxibustion, acupuncture, constipationCM NEWS – A special form of acupoint treatment can help push your bowel without needing you to take any medication, a recent study finds.

To test the therapeutic effect, safety of acupoint application for treatment of constipation, scientists of the First Hospital of Guangzhou University of TCM in China used a special form of acupoint treatment called herbs-partitioned moxibustion (???).

42 cases were randomly divided into a treatment group of 22 cases and a control group of 20 cases.

In herbs-partitioned moxibustion, a small “cake” made up of herbs was placed on the specific acupoints and was lit up.

In this study, the special herbal cake was made with Sanleng (??, Rhizoma Spargani), Ezhu (??, Rhizoma Zedoariae), Dahuang (??, Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) and Bingpian (??, Borneolum). The cake was then applied at acupoints Tianshu (???, ST 25), Qihai (???, CV 6), Guanyuan (??? CV 4).

The control group were treated with oral administration of Congrong Tongbian Oral Liquid (???????), a laxative that can be bought over the counter.

Acupoint Tianshu has been clinically proven to be effective in dealing with constipation for centuries. In combination with other adjuvant points as indicated by symptom differentiation, are very effective in the treatment of diseases of the digestive system.

Acupoint Qihai has been involved in treating back pain, overly frequent urination at night, and some gynecological conditions.

Acupoint Guangyuan is said to be effective in treating urological diseases, erectile dysfunction, menstrual cramps etc. It’s also involved in treating insomnia and panic disorder.

What is moxibustion? Practitioners use moxa, or mugwort herb, to warm regions and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.

moxibustion, acupuncture, traditional chinese medicineMedical historians believe that moxibustion pre-dated acupuncture, and needling came to supplement moxa after the 2nd century BC. Different schools of acupuncture use moxa in varying degrees. For example a 5-element acupuncturist will use moxa directly on the skin, whilst a TCM-style practitioner will use rolls of moxa and hold them over the point treated. It can also be burnt atop a fine slice of ginger root to prevent scarring.

There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is further categorized into two types: scarring and non-scarring. With scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on a point, ignited, and allowed to remain onto the point until it burns out completely. This may lead to localized scarring, blisters and scarring after healing.

With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient will experience a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain, blistering or scarring unless the moxa is left in place for too long.

Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.

In the present study, a herbal cake was applied on the acupoints instead of moxa. This practice is also called herbs-partitioned moxibustion (???).

The results were very positive for the moxibustion group. The total effective rate was 81.8% in the treatment group and 50.0% in the control group, the treatment group being better than the control group (P < 0.05).

Patients in the treatment group made their first bowel movement 5.1 hours +/- 2.8 hours after treatment, whereas the first defecation time for the control group was 10.1 hours +/- 7.3 hours after treatment.

The scientists then conclude that TCM acupoint application therapy has a definite therapeutic effect on constipation.

[Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Mar;27(3):189-90.]

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