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Posts Tagged ‘chinese herbal medicine’

Dear President Aquino

February 16th, 2011 3 comments

I would like to point out a slight error in your statements as quoted here: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/213171/chinese-embassy-court-sustains-death-sentence-on-3-pinoys

“(A Chinese ambassador told me that) they are very, very strict when it comes to drug laws because it’s a major concern of theirs. Iyung sa shabu, iyung ephedrine is a natural, comes from a plant that grows primarily in China. Mas malaki ang problema nila doon, they have a bigger populace, and they have syempre the history of opium from before,”

Why the heck is ephedrine mentioned in the same breath as methamphetamines and opium?  Again this is due to Ephedra’s bad rep as it is banned in the United States.  I shan’t repeat myself, but I would like to refer our President to my articles about Ephedra:

“News Bias Continues: Ephedra’s True Story” http://qi-spot.com/2010/02/01/news-bias-continues-ephedras-true-story/

.581px Ephedra andina 1 290x300 Dear President Aquino

A quote:

Herba Ephedrae or Ma Huang is usually the first herb one would see in a typical textbook of Chinese herbal medicine.  It is usually used to clear early symptoms of flu, and not ALL kinds of flu.  ANY look at the texts will give SPECIFIC indications for it’s use.  However, western herb enthusiasts had, according to the article, “converted from an herbal treatment for diseases to an energy stimulant and a weight-loss product.”

What are it’s classic textbook uses?

Actions: induces diaphoresis, resolves surface, ventilates the lungs to relieve asthma, regulates water metabolism.

Applications: febrile diseases due to exterior-excess, fever, chillphobia [aversion to cold], anhidrosis [lack of perspiration], ostealgia [bone pain], arthralgia, cough with dyspnea, edema, edema due to wind.

From this, it becomes obvious that Herba ephedrae is meant to be used in actual illness, not in a healthy person just trying to get a kick or lose weight.  The weight loss aspect is gleaned from it’s strong diaphoretic effect.  However, a basic look at any  Chinese herbal textbook will show that administration of ma huang should stop WHEN PERSPIRATION BEGINS, whether or not the flu has dispersed.

Again, if the patient has external symptoms (chills, slight fever, arthralgia, muscle pain) with no sweating, ma huang may be given AS PART OF A FORMULA to mediate effects (see ma huang tang, among others) and should be STOPPED when sweating begins.

Also, it should not be used as a tonic.  Many of the early ma huang/ephedra “supplements” were mixtures of ephedra and other tonics (including caffeine!)  Disaster waiting to happen.

How does that compare with western enthusiasts taking the herb individually for what we MDs would term as “off label use” contrary to all warnings?

OF COURSE they’ll get sick.  A professor of mine in China warned against yin collapse (shock due to blood or fluid loss) after using too much sweat-inducing herbs.

“The Art of Chinese Medicine” http://qi-spot.com/2010/11/15/the-art-of-chinese-medicine/

My point, Mr. President, is that Ma Huang or ephedra, the source of ephedrine, is a very valuable medicinal material in China and is banned in the US only because SOME IDIOTS misused it for off-label purposes.  It does not deserve to be compared to real dangerous drugs

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“Warning Issued On Chinese Medicine”

November 17th, 2010 1 comment

Yes, that’s the title of an article published today in the Philippine Star.  (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=630865&publicationSubCategoryId=63)

The way the headline is written, one would think that the warning issued was against Chinese Medicine as in Chinese Medicine the tradition, such as the medicine I practice.  It does not say “Warning Issued On Chinese Medicines” or “Warning Issued on Fake Chinese Medicine”.  No, it uses the general term “Warning Issued on Chinese Medicine”.

I will quote the article in full here:

MANILA, Philippines – People are urged to exercise caution when taking Chinese medicine.

Speaking to reporters, Leonila Ocampo, Philippine Pharmaceutical Association (PPA) president, said many Chinese medicinal and herbal products are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Therefore they are considered counterfeit, although legitimate in the country where they were manufactured, she added.

Under Republic Act 8203, or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs, fake medicine pertains to unregistered imported drug products, Ocampo said.

Dr. Minerva Calimag, Philippine Medical Association (PMA) food, drugs and cosmetics committee chairman, said security in the country’s coasts is weak, enabling smugglers to bring in counterfeit medicine.

“If fake drugs are coming from outside (the country), our problem is how to secure the borders because there are many channels through which it could come into the market,” she said.

The government must be able to prevent the entry of counterfeit drugs into the country, Calimag said.

The PPA and PMA are members of Samahan Laban sa Pekeng Gamot.

It has been estimated that one of every 10 drugs in the country is fake, based on the cases reported to the FDA.

The country’s pharmaceutical market is steadily growing, making it a target of counterfeiters.

In its website, Samahan has identified Binondo, Manila as among the hotspots for counterfeit medicine.

The funny part is, I actually AGREE with most of what is said in the article.

Yes, there are tons of smuggled Chinese medicine products of questionable integrity.  I am the FIRST to admit that probably half of all over the counter drugs sold in Chinese drugstores are of poor quality or fake.

But in NO WAY should that merit a headline that passes judgment on the Chinese medical tradition as a whole!

Now for the one part of the article I don’t agree with: the idea that if a Chinese materia medica does not pass through the FDA, it should not be used at all.

Hence, let’s ban drinking tea for health purposes.

Let’s ban the use of ginger tea or salabat to relieve sore throat.

Let’s ban the use of eating watermelon to keep cool.

Why? Because those are all examples of using materials in the Chinese tradition, as per my previous post.

Shall I go on?  Let’s not use tawas or alum to relieve body odor.  That’s a materia medica used in Chinese medicine, to relieve Heat which manifests as body odor.

Let’s not massage using ginger oils for body aches, let’s ban medicinal massage, let’s ban…

You get the idea.

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The Sour Dating Game

August 22nd, 2010 No comments

Last time, I talked about Suan Zao Ren Tang and mentioned some things about the main ingredient, Suan Zao Ren (Sour Date Seed).  I now present to the reader some excerpts from a 2002 study:

Chen, et al.  Prescriptions of Chinese Herbal Medicines for Insomnia in Taiwan in 2002. eCAM Advance Access published online on April 1, 2009.
eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep018 (
http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/nep018)

Let’s go specifically into the part on Suan Zao Ren.

The second most commonly used Chinese herb for subjects with insomnia in our study was Suan-zao-ren (Z. spinosa). It is the chief ingredient in the formula of Suan-zao-ren-tang. In an animal model, Peng et al. (29) reported that Suan-zao-ren had a sedative effect at higher doses and an anxiolytic effect at lower doses. In addition, Zhang et al. (30) indicated that Jujuboside A, one of the components of Suan-zao-ren, produced its sedative–hypnotic effects through effecting the actions of anti-calcium-binding proteins and it inhibited the glutamate-mediated excitatorysignaling pathway in the hippocampus. Jiang et al. (31) also reported that saponins, the main bioactive components of Suan-zao-ren, could prolong the sleeping time induced by barbiturates. In addition, Ma et al. (32) revealed that sanjoinine A, an alkaloid compound of Suan-zao-ren, might regulate GABAergic neurons and further increase the sleeping time and decrease the sleep latency induced by pentobarbital. Notably, there was a case report indicating that Suan-zao-ren could interact with the antidepressant, venlafaxine (Efexor), thereby leading to an acute serotonin reaction (33).

So nice to see that traditional Chinese Medicine is being STUDIED and PROVEN to work.  Here are the research papers cited by Chen et al:

  1. Peng WH, Hsieh MT, Lee YS, Lin YC, Liao J. Anxiolytic effect of seed of Ziziphus jujuba in mouse models of anxiety. J Ethnopharmacol ( 2000;) 72:: 435–41. 
  2. Zhang M, Ning G, Shou C, Lu Y, Hong D, Zheng X. Inhibitory effect of jujuboside A on glutamate-mediated excitatory signal pathway in hippocampus. Planta Med ( 2003;) 69:: 692–5. 
  3. Jiang JG, Huang XJ, Chen J. Separation and purification of saponins from Semen Ziziphus jujuba and their sedative and hypnotic effects. J Pharm Pharmacol ( 2007;) 59:: 1175–80. 
  4. Ma Y, Han H, Eun JS, Kim HC, Hong JT, Oh KW. Sanjoinine A isolated from Zizyphi Spinosi Semen augments pentobarbital-induced sleeping behaviors through the modification of GABA-ergic systems. Biol Pharm Bull ( 2007;) 30:: 1748–53. 
  5. Stewart DE. Venlafaxine and sour date nut. Am J Psychiatry ( 2004;) 161:: 1129–30.

The other herbs in the formula include Chuanxiong, Fuling, Zhimu and Gancao.  The effects of each material seems obvious at first.  From a Chinese pharmacologic point of view, Chuanxiong regulates liver blood and clears blood stasis, Zhu Mu clears deficiency heat and nourishes yin, Gan Cao harmonizes, but what about Fu Ling?  Fu Ling is known for draining dampness, but it should be noted that it enters the Heart meridian as well and thus, has an effect of tranquilizing the mind and calming the spirit.

I had read somewhere that the formula as a whole lowers epinephrine levels, but have yet to find the actual research stating such.

This formula was first noted in Zhang Zhongjing’s “Essentials from the Golden Cabinet”, around 208 AD.  Truly a brilliant man.

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Sour Grapes or Sour Dates?

August 19th, 2010 No comments

I am a big fan of sleep.  I believe that good sleep is the best medicine, not just laughter.  I would like to write about a patient of mine, a fifty-something male, with complaints of hypertension and insomnia.

I was not the first TCM physician who the patient saw.  He had been given herbs before but his hypertension was still unabated.  When I saw him for the first time, history revealed that he had severe insomnia.  Logic dictates that his hypertension could be due to the lack of sleep.

Acupuncture, however, did not work at all.  I tried the patent remedy Zao Ren An Shen Ye, which helped a bit, but not so much.  Also, his blood pressure was still in the 180/100 range.  Not acceptable to me.

I brought out the heavy artillery.  I decided to use Suan Zao Ren Tang (Sour Jujube decoction).

After three days of taking the formula, the patient followed up.  He is sleeping better and his blood pressure is down to 140/90.  Talk about treating the branch by treating the root!

So what’s so special about Sour Jujube?

wild chinese jujube 300x225 Sour Grapes or Sour Dates?

Wild Chinese Jujube, courtesy foodsnherbs.com

A lot of people know about Da Zao (jujube or red dates) but what about Suan Zao Ren or sour jujube seeds?

Suan Zao Ren is sweet and sour in flavor, meaning it tonifies and preserves yin and fluids.  It’s nature is neutral so it will neither promote nor modulate physiology and inflammation.  It enters the Heart and Liver meridians so it affects the Mind through the Heart and the Qi through the Liver.  Great Chief herb.

Anyway that’s enough for now.  In a few days we will present an analysis of Suan Zao Ren Tang – the formula itself!

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Cow Gallstones Bowl Over Parasite

March 7th, 2010 5 comments

Schistosomiasis is caused by a species of liver fluke that basically plants a flag in the blood vessels in your liver and claims it as it’s own territory.  It can damage internal organs, increase the chances for bladder cancer, and cause retardation of growth and development in children. A brief look at wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schistosomiasis) can give a better overview.

schistosoma schistosoma japonicum Cow Gallstones Bowl Over Parasite

Imagine this little bugger in your liver or bladder. Call Ellen Ripley!

A particular problem related to this is the effect that the screwed up circulation in the Portal venous system in the liver leads to hypertension in that portal system and thus, lung problems.

A look at Portal Hypertension: (from www.medicinenet.com) Symptoms include gastrointestinal bleeding, ascites or fluid in the abdomen, mental problems due to liver failure and lung problems, since the blood from the liver goes to the lungs.  This entry deals more with the lung problems.

The actual journal article abstract can be quoted thus :

Portal hypertension is a vascular lesion that initially arises in liver, but structural and functional changes of blood vessels in extrahepatic portal system, systemic circulation and pulmonary circulation also accompany, which now collectively called portal hypertensive vascular lesions. In clinical practice, much attention has been paid to the prevention and treatment of complications such as ascites, esophagogastric variceal bleeding; however the management of pulmonary complications is ignored which affects the prognosis of patients. Hence, drugs used for prevention and treatment of pulmonary complications seem to be very important.

We now find an article (http://www.physorg.com/news186923469.html) entitled “Treatment of portal hypertensive pulmonary lesions induced by schistosomiasis”  Okay, looks interesting, let’s have a go at it!

Calculus Bovis compound preparation can effectively prevent pulmonary complications of portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis. The successful development of Calculus Bovis and the preliminary study on portal hypertensive pulmonary lesions caused by schistosomiasis suggest that it is of great significance and prospects for further basic and clinical research, development and clinical application of new drugs and preparations to treat portal hypertensive pulmonary lesions induced by schistosomiasis.

I just find it interesting that the chinese name of calculus bovis is not used.  It is Niu Huang, a common ingredient for controlling inflammation.  Famously known as part of the formulas Niu Huang Jie Du Pian (Cow Gallstone Clear Toxicity Pill), An Gong Niu Huang Wan (Calm the Palace Cattle Gallstone Pill) and Niu Huang Qingxin Wan (Cattle Gallstone Clear the Heart Pill), it is famous for rapidly draining fire and clearing inflammation.

To evaluate efficacy of Calculus Bovis compound preparation (ICCBco) in the treatment of lung lesions in portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis as the experimental animal model, a research group in China performed a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial to observe pathological changes and pathological effect mechanism of expression of fibronectin and laminin in the lung tissue of portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis.

In vitro cultivated ICCBco is composed of Calculus Bovis, Chinese Paris Rhizome, polygonum cuspidatum, appendiculate cremastra pseudobulb, frankincense, and myrrh, and has the functions of clearing away heat and toxic materials, removing blood stasis, reducing swelling, eliminating blood stasis and promoting tissue regeneration, according to the principle of traditional Chinese medicine. However, the topic has not been unequivocally addressed.

I can’t help it.  Frankincense and myrrh?  I’ve blogged about this before (http://qi-spot.com/2009/12/30/the-wise-mans-gift/) talking about myrrh and it’s benefits for the heart.  Let me elaborate now about blood stasis though, since this is not an easily understood concept for laymen.  Wikipedia, quoting Dan Bensky, sort of got it right thus:

Described in TCM theory as a slowing or pooling of the blood due to disruption of Heart Qi, it is often understood in biomedical terms in terms of hematological disorders such as hemorrhage, congestion, thrombosis, and localischemia (microclots) and tissue changes.

So let’s look at the research from the World Journal of Gastroenterology (http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/16/749.asp)

Effects of in vitro cultivated Calculus Bovis compound on pulmonary lesions in rabbits with schistosomiasis
Ox Gallstone Cow Bezoar Calculas Bovis 300x254 Cow Gallstones Bowl Over Parasite

Niu Huang or Calculus Bovis - won't kill the bug, but will make you breathe easier

Tao Li, Zhen Yang, Hong-Jiao Cai, Li-Wei Song, Ke-Yu Lu, Zheng Zhou, Zai-De Wu

ISSN 1007-9327 CN 14-1219/R  World J Gastroenterol  2010 February 14; 16(6): 749-754

AIM: To explore the interventional effects and mech­anism of in vitro cultivated Calculus Bovis compound preparation (ICCBco) on pulmonary lesions in portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis.

METHODS: The experimental group included 20 portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis treated by ICCBco. The control group included 20 portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis treated by praziquantel. The morphological changes of the pulmonary tissues were observed under light and electron microscopy. The expression of fibronectin (FN) and laminin (LN) in the lung tissues was analyzed by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: Under light microscope, the alveolar exudation in the lung tissue was more frequently observed in the control group, while the alveolar space was fairly dry in the lung tissue of ICCBco group. Under electron microscope, more alveolar exudation in the lung tissue, and more macrophages, alveolar angiotelectasis and the blurred three-tier structure of alveolar-capillary barrier could be seen in the control group. In ICCBco group, fibers within the alveolar interspace slightly increased in some lung regions, and the structure of type Ⅰ epithelium, basement membrane and endodermis was complete, and no obvious exudation from the alveolar space, and novascular con­gestion could be observed. There was a positive or strong positive expression of FN and LN in the lung tissue of the control group, while there was a negative or weak positive expression of FN and LN in ICCBco group.

CONCLUSION: ICCBco can effectively prevent pul­monary complications in portal hypertensive rabbits with schistosomiasis by means of improving lung micro­circulation and lowering the content of extracellular matrix.

In English… well look at the above caption.

Peer review says that it is “interesting research” but “not well planned” – I wish the reviewer were more specific…  It’s a good initial study though for others to use as a stepping stone.

More information: Li T, Yang Z, Cai HJ, Song LW, Lu KY, Zhou Z, Wu ZD. Effects of in vitro cultivated Calculus Bovis compound on pulmonary lesions in rabbits with schistosomiasis. World J Gastroenterol 2010; 16(6): 749-754. http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/16/749.asp

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