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Back In Business

August 9th, 2010 No comments

I know it’s been a week since I came back from Beijing.  However, I needed some time to get used to Manila weather again and to catch up with some paperwork.  At the moment I have a conference to attend tomorrow, a lecture on wednesday and another on thursday.  And I’m not quite prepared yet ha ha.

My first thoughts after Beijing include these though:  acupuncture is like a baby brother to herbal medicine.  Second, there has to be a better name for herbal medicine, since not all are plants, and therefore, not all are herbs.  And third, a lot of these materia medica are common spices and vegetables in China.  It’s just how much are used, and in what combination.

I find myself liking pugongyin (dandelion) already…

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Categories: Dietary Therapy Tags: ,

“No Approved Therapeutic Claims” – Food “Supplements” vs Medicine

June 20th, 2010 No comments

A buzz topic now is the translation of the government label “No Approved Therapeutic Claims” into Filipino.  The term “No Approved Therapeutic Claims” was used for “food supplements” – a blanket term for non-big pharma produced products, usually “natural” or “herbal” medicine.

“No Approved Therapeutic Claims” thus means – “the claims of these products are not validated by the BFAD/FDA (Bureau of Food and Drugs, now renamed Food and Drug Administration).  What happens then is I can market a “natural” product as a “food supplement” and not as a medicine and it doesn’t have to go through same research as big pharma products.

The problem on this end is that there is a myriad of lousy products out there.  I am an advocate of Chinese herbal medicine but I am also the first to caution against lousy products that only end up harming the patient and the reputation of Chinese medicine.  in China, you see news about companies being penalized for putting out lousy products.  What about us?

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral has good intentions.  We should be protected from bogus products.  I however, do not agree with the new translation for food supplement “warnings”.  I shan’t print the Filipino version here, but I can tell you it means “this product is not medicine and cannot cure any disease.”

This is obviously where I have a beef.

As a Chinese medicine doctor, I cannot agree that just because something is not produced by Big Pharma, it cannot be considered, “medicine.”  The American Heritage Dictionary defines medicine as “An agent, such as a drug, used to treat disease or injury.”  Note, it says an agent, SUCH AS a drug.  This means that there are other agents, while NOT drugs, that can be used to treat disease or injury.

To the Chinese, one of the most important agents are not just food “supplements”, but food itself.

food No Approved Therapeutic Claims   Food Supplements vs MedicineSun Simiao is known as the “Yao Wang” or “King of Medicinals”.  He is famous for a book entitled “Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold”.  Yet here is this important quote from him:

“Doctors should first understand the cause of disease, then treat it with diet. (Herbal) Medicine should only be used if diet fails” – Sun Simiao

Wow, the “King of Medicinals”, famous for life saving herbal prescriptions… recommends DIETARY therapy?!!  Good luck hearing that from Big Pharma.

Patented pills quack 600 No Approved Therapeutic Claims   Food Supplements vs Medicine

Unfortunately this applies to "herbal medicine" product hawkers also. Image by Mike Adams. http://www.naturalnews.com/021638_conventional_medicine_quackery.html

Anyway my final thoughts are these:

1) We should not put down the idea of “food as medicine” as it is actually more effective for a lot of common, everyday problems.

2) The Chinese have this down to a science and I’ll be darned  - the stuff works.  Click http://www.meridianpress.net/intro.html for more info.

3) At the same time, a lot of food supplement products out there are just bunk.  Better not to rely on products made by people who just want your money.  Do your homework.  Pick a tradition of diet therapy (western, Chinese, whatever) and stick to it.

4) Don’t think that one herb or one fruit or one vegetable will solve all your ills.  Make lifestyle adjustments as well.

Now I’m off to get a nice porridge breakfast.  Be well!

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Got Milk? NOT.

March 6th, 2010 2 comments

One of the statements I make during lectures that always causes a virulent reaction from the audience refers to milk.  Specifically, I unabashedly declare that feeding milk to children beyond two years of age, from a Chinese medicine point of view, is ludicrous, unnecessary, and downright harmful.  I often say that if God had intended for children to drink milk all their formative years, then their mothers should naturally produce milk for more than two years.

“Where will they get their calcium?” I am asked.  I answer: fruits and vegetables.  Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that cow’s milk is too rich for the delicate digestive system of children.  Heck, because of lactose intolerance, it is too rich for asian adults as well!

But now we have an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer that supports my TCM based belief:

Lactose intolerance proof cow’s milk not for humans (http://business.inquirer.net/money/features/view/20100305-256871/Lactose-intolerance-proof-cows-milk-not-for-humans)

…Physiologically, after infancy, many individuals lose their ability to digest simple sugar, or lactose, that cow’s milk is rich in…The result is that undigested lactose travels to the large intestine where bacteria break this sugar down, producing anything from gas, to cramps, to diarrhea. Lactose intolerance appears to be the main factor in as many as a third of cases of recurrent abdominal pain in children…

The article goes on to say that the undigested proteins can ultimately lead to autoimmune reactions resulting in diabetes, and that only 25% of calcium in milk is absorbed.  Hence, again, the Chinese were right.  Cow’s milk screws up the kids’ digestive systems, and you’re better off getting calcium from vegetables.  A bit of noteworthy correction, though: the article seems written in a way that implies that lactose is the only simple sugar.  It is A simple sugar but not the only simple sugar.  Fructose and glucose are simple sugars also.

So what is the ideal breastmilk substitute for infants, if not cow’s milk?  In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is pressure cooked rice porridge – cooked long enough to crush the rice and making it look like milky water.  This is different from just the water used to boil rice or “am” here in the Philippines.

If the mum is having a hard time lactating, there are TCM herbal and acupuncture solutions for her.

But NOT cow’s milk.

EDIT: added one sentence re: lactose as a simple sugar.  7:50 AM March 7, 2010.

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The King of Medicinals

February 5th, 2010 Comments off
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On The Other Hand, We Can Do Without These…

February 2nd, 2010 1 comment

Goji berries ‘help fight skin cancer’ (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/health-fitness/health/Goji-berries-help-fight-skin-cancer/articleshow/5524176.cms)

Nice to read, right?

At first glance, maybe, but a thorough examination of the article shows why it is such careless headlines such as these that fool the public into buying herbs and using them “off-label”.  Thus, the skeptics and naysayers are justified (apparently).

Let’s look at the article and see just how the wolfberry (aka Goji) does this.  Does it actually help contain the spread of melanoma?  Does it help kill squamous cell carcinoma cells?

In traditional Chinese medicine, the superfruit berry lycium barbarum, also known as wolfberry, has long been recognized for various therapeutic properties based on its antioxidant and immune-boosting effects, reports  The Daily Express  .

Okay, good start.  We’ll expound on wolfberry later.

And now, scientists at University of Sydney have found that liquid containing just five per cent goji berry juice can reduce the inflammatory oedema (fluid retention) of the sunburn reaction in hairless mice.

I can see how this will be useful in burns, scalds or any acute tissue repair.  Let’s get on to cancer!

To reach the conclusion, scientists compared the effects of Himalayan Goji Juice, containing 89 per cent of the juice and eight per cent other fruit juices added for flavour – grape, pear, apple and pear puree – with those of JustJuice apple and pear from Woolworths.

The study has been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences.

Okay, so there’s a “control” that doesn’t taste like water.  Where’s the data on CANCER?

Dr Vivienne Reeve, of the University of Sydney, said, “Goji berry juice might prove useful in preventing skin cancer development in susceptible humans.”

That’s it?  HOW?  From preventing edema to preventing skin cancer… HOW?

Where’s the REST of the article?  If you’re going to make claims and headlines like that, better have more data!

The article ends with

But Dr Alison Ross, of Cancer Research UK, said, “This study in mice does not provide evidence that drinking goji berry juice can offer any protection against the skin-damaging effects of excessive sun exposure in people.”

Darned right it doesn’t!  And I’m not being sarcastic!  Where’s the evidence in this study that drinking goji berry juice prevents cancer?!?!?  At least, where’s the LINK to the research in the article?  What’s the study name so I can research it myself?  ARGH!

And what is so special about wolfberry anyway? From tcm.health-info.org: (http://tcm.health-info.org/Herbology.Materia.Medica/gouqizi-properties.htm)

Properties: Sweet, neutral

Enters Liver, Lung and Kidney Meridians

Nourishes Liver and Kidney, Benefits Essence, enriches Yin

Also Used For:

Orally, Gou Qi Zi / lycium is used for diabetes, hypertension, fever, malaria, and cancer. It’s also used for improving circulation, erectile dysfunction, dizziness, and tinnitus. It is used as an eye tonic for blurred vision, macular degeneration, and other ophthalmic disorders. Lycium is also used orally to strengthen muscles and bone, and as a blood, liver, and kidney tonic. It is used orally to reduce fever, sweating, irritability, thirst, nosebleeds, hemoptysis, cough, and wheezing.
In foods, the berries are eaten raw and used in cooking.

Okay I can see how it works but does it justify calling it king of herbs or whatnot?  That’s what most of them herb pusher quacks say.  Oh, and I’m sure you’ve heard about people talking about how goji berry was found in the himalayas and all that.  I couldn’t help but snicker at that.  You see, the truth is that wolfberry isn’t that exotic.  From acupuncture today (http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/herbcentral/lycium_fruit.php) :

Also known as the Chinese wolfberry, lycium comes from a medium-sized bush that is native to east Asia and Europe. In China, the best lycium grows and is cultivated in the Ningzia (sic), Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

A little far from Tibet, eh?  Well okay, Qinghai is beside tibet…

Last time, I talked about how western “herb experts” took Ma Huang (ephedra) and turned it from a sweat inducer and body warming herb into the ultimate weight loss stimulant.  What happened as a consequence of this off-label use?  We all know.  And we ended up with Ma Huang taking a bad rap.  Now “they” are doing it with other herbs.  At least they chose a relatively safer herb like wolfberry (which is, by the way, used everywhere in China for cooking also).  But there is no justice in overhyping it.  It just makes real chinese medicine look bad.

I’m not doubting that these herbs can help cancer patients, but let’s keep the information down to earth and useful, not giving them false hope.  Wolfberry nourishes yin – I can see how it can help mediate chemotherapy side effects, but to come out with headlines like this is just irresponsible, in my not-so-humble opinion.

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