August 12, 2007
Filed under TCM use
Xinhua – Traditional Chinese medicine patients are set to pay more for their remedies this year because of dwindling herb supplies.
The prices of 262 frequently used herbs– 52.4% of the key 500 herbs — rose in the first half year, according to China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy (CATCMP). Read more
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.
Long kui (龍葵, Solanum nigrum Linne) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries because of its diuretic and antipyretic effects. The present study was done at the College of Environmental and Chemical Engineering at the Yanshan University in Hebei, China.
The study examined the effect of the crude polysaccharides isolated from long kui on tumour growth.
What are polysaccharides? Polysaccharides (sometimes called glycans) are relatively complex carbohydrates.
They are polymers made up of many monosaccharides joined together by glycosidic linkages. They are therefore very large, often branched, molecules. They tend to be amorphous, insoluble in water, and have no sweet taste.
When all the constituent monosaccharides are of the same type they are termed homopolysaccharides; when more than one type of monosaccharide is present they are termed heteropolysaccharides.
Examples include storage polysaccharides such as starch and glycogen and structural polysaccharides such as cellulose and chitin.
The effect of long kui polysaccarides on a group of tumour-bearing mice with cervical cancer was observed after oral administration of long kui polysaccahrides for 12 days.
Analysis of the tumour inhibition mechanism indicated that the number of apoptotic tumour cells (cells died) increased significantly, i.e. more cancerous cells were killed.
Moreover, the expression of a gene Bcl-2 (B-cell lymphoma 2), which is believed to play a role in resisting conventional cancer treatment, dropped significantly. Mutated gene of p53, which originally is a tumour suppressor but its mutated form is found in most tumour types, also decreased.
On the other side of the token, the expression of cell-death promoting protein Bax increased.
What is Bcl-2 (B-cell lymphoma 2) gene? The Bcl-2 gene has been implicated in a number of cancers, including melanoma, breast, prostate, lung carcinomas, schizophrenia, and autoimmunity. It is also thought to be involved in resistance to conventional cancer treatment. This supports a role for decreased apoptosis in the pathogenesis of cancer.
Apoptosis plays a very important role in regulating a variety of diseases that have enormous social impacts. Bcl-2 is essential to the process of apoptosis because it suppresses the initiation of the cell-death process.
What is p53 gene? The p53 gene is a tumour suppressor gene, i.e., its activity stops the formation of tumours. If a person inherits only one functional copy of the p53 gene from their parents, they are predisposed to cancer and usually develop several independent tumours in a variety of tissues in early adulthood. This condition is rare, and is known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome. However, mutations in p53 are found in most tumour types, and so contribute to the complex network of molecular events leading to tumour formation. It is clear that p53 is just one component of a network of events that culminate in tumour formation.
What is more promising is that the long kui polysaccarides treatment can decrease the level of TNF-alpha, or tumour necrosis factor, in blood serum. These results indicated that the tumour growth inhibition of long kui polysaccarides might correlate with the reduction of TNF-alpha level of blood serum, which resulted in a massive necrosis (accidental death of cells) in tumour tissues and the up-regulation of Bax and down-regulation of Bcl-2 and mutant p53 gene expression, which triggered apoptosis in tumour cells.
What is TNF? Tumour necrosis factor is a protein produced by several of the body’s cell types, such as white blood cells, red blood cells, and other cells that line the blood vessels. It promotes the destruction of some types of cancer cells.
TNF is a type of cytokine released by white blood cells. Cytokines are a group of molecules that are released by many different cells to communicate with other cells and regulate the duration of an immune response.
There are many different kinds of cytokines, each with a different effect on specific target cells. Once a cell releases the cytokines, they bind to corresponding receptors located on target cells, thus causing a change to take place within the target cell.
Tumour necrosis factor is released by special white blood cells called macrophages. Although researchers are still investigating the exact mechanism by which TNF kills cancer cells, it is clear that TNF binds to receptors located on the surface of cancer cells, causing a change and then death of the cell. This was found to be true in animal models. As a result, researchers thought TNF might enhance the reaction of the human immune system to cancer cells.
In addition to tumour cell-killing activity, TNF-α has been noted for its role in the inflammatory response and the body’s resistance to pathogens.
The researchers conclude that long kui polysaccarides can be considered as a potential antitumour agent.
[Phytother Res. 2007 May 8]
Little scientific evidence supports the efficacy of herbal medicines in the treatment of degenerative arthritis of the knee. The purpose of this study is to evaluate both the efficacy and safety of a finished Chinese herbal preparation Duhuo Jisheng Tang in reducing symptoms of degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee.
A prospective follow-up study was carried out in two hospitals in Taipei between April and October 2005. 68 osteoarthritis patients, with symptoms diagnosed by radiologists, received DJT at a rate of 2.5 g, twice daily for four weeks. Baseline scores were measured on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) index, followed by further measures at the end of weeks 1, 2 and 4.
The World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) assessment was undertaken as a secondary outcome, with pattern identification questionnaires being adopted. Regression models were constructed to explore the score differences between the baseline and at weeks 2 and 4 by various determinants including age, gender, body mass index (BMI), severity at baseline, use of rescue medication, aversion to cold and flaccidity of the lower back and knees.
Among the 68 participants, there were statistically significant reductions in the WOMAC index scores for pain, stiffness and physical functioning in the second and fourth weeks, with effects first appearing during week 2.
By week 4, the mean WOMAC index scores had fallen from 22.2 (+/-19.2) to 16.1 (+/-16.2) for pain, from 28.1 (+/-24.9) to 18.5 (+/-20.3) for stiffness, and from 22.6 (+/-18.0) to 18.2 (+/-17.8) for physical functioning, while the global score for pain under the visual analogue scale (VAS) was reduced from 38.7 (+/-21.5) to 27.8 (+/-19.8).The researchers conclude that in the treatment of degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee, a 4-week therapy with the Chinese herbal preparation DJT reduced pain and stiffness and improved physical functioning, but it was less effective in treating flaccidity and aversion to cold.
March 17, 2007
Filed under digestive
CM NEWS – A common Chinese herb dan shen (丹参, Salvia miltiorrhiza) may help patients with severe acute pancreatitis, in which the pancreas is dying from the acute inflammation, by controlling the serum levels of cytokines that play a key role in advancing inflammation to mulitple organs.
In the present study by researchers at the Department of Gastroenterology of Yingtan 184 Hospital in Jiangxi, China, 36 patients with severe acute pancreatitis were randomly divided into dan shen-treated group and non-danshen-treated group with eighteen patients in each group. 14 age-matched healthy volunteers were assigned to control group.
What is acute pancreatitis? Pancreatitis is a condition associated with development of acute and sudden inflammation of the pancreas. Experimental data show that during an attack of pancreatitis, pancreatic enzymes are released in the abdomen and cause inflammation by the damage from digestion of normal body structures, especially fat in the abdomen. In about 85% of patients, acute pancreatitis is a mild disease and is usually associated with a rapid recovery within a few days of onset of the illness.
Gallstones and excessive alcohol usage are the most common causes for injury to the pancreas and account for more than 85% of all patients that develop pancreatitis. Many medications, and conditions such as hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood), and hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood) may also cause pancreatitis.
In about 15-20% of patients with acute pancreatitis, severe damage to the pancreas may lead to a life threatening illness that is often associated with prolong hospitalization, multiple surgical procedures, and death in some patients. Severe acute pancreatitis usually develops when parts of the pancreas become necrotic (dead) from the acute inflammation. Many of the complications seen in severe acute pancreatitis are associated with the presence of this dead pancreatic tissue in the abdomen.
Severe acute pancreatitis is a serious and life threatening disease and require intensive and aggressive management of multiple organ failure and severe infective complications that develop in these patients. Many of the complications seen in severe acute pancreatitis are associated with the presence of the dead pancreatic tissue in the abdomen.
The researchers tested patients’ serum levels of three cytokines: interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) within 24 hours of admission and 7 days after admission.
What are cytokines? Cytokines are a group of proteins and peptides that are used in organisms as signaling compounds. These chemical signals are similar to hormones and neurotransmitters and are used to allow one cell to communicate with another. While hormones are released from specific organs into the blood and neurotransmitters are released by nerves, cytokines are released by many types of cells. They are particularly important in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Due to their central role in the immune system, cytokines are involved in a variety of immunological, inflammatory and infectious diseases.
Some patients with severe acute pancreatitis progress from a limited local inflammation to a potentially dangerous systemic inflammatory response. According to literature, the probable cause is high levels of circulating proinflammatory cytokines, which induce activated white cells to escape into the tissue parenchyma of lungs, kidneys, liver, haemopoetic and vascular system. Cytokine release from tissue macrophages are thought to be the trigger for the cytokine cascade.
This event leads to the migration of blood monocytes and neutrophils to the site of injury and these cells are then capable of secreting a large variety of damaging inflammatory mediators. The degree to which these mediators escape into the circulation contributes to the induction of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), acute phase response, and multiple organ failure. Organ dysfunction occurs in one in four patients with acute pancreatitis and 60% of patients who die in the first week of the disease die from pulmonary damage resulting from adult respiratory distress syndrome.
Controlling the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines thus becomes a crucial way to prevent inflammation to advance to multiple organs.
The results of the present study show that serum levels of the three cytokines were significantly decreased in both dan shen-treated group and non-dan shen-treated group after 7-day treatment. The declining of the serum levels of the three cytokines in danshen-treated group was more obvious than that in non-dan shen-treated group.
The researchers thus conclude that by reducing serum levels of the three cytokines, dan shen can treat patients with severe acute pancreatitis.
March 7, 2007
Filed under hepatitis
CM NEWS – An active ingredient of a popular traditional Chinese medicine huang qin (Scutellaria radix, 黃芩) has been shown to curb expression of two antigens in the human body that are indicative of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. As such, the substance is now being reviewed to see if an anti-HBV drug could be derived. Read more
February 13, 2007
Filed under arthritis
CM NEWS – A group of Chinese researchers find that a TCM herb radix linderae (wu yao, 烏藥; aka 矮樟、香桂樟、白葉柴) 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]