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The Art of Chinese Medicine

November 15th, 2010 No comments

The past month has been brutal, scheduling wise.  I shan’t bore my handful of readers with the details of the non-essentials.  One of the things keeping me busy though, is having a 4th year medical student rotate with me in Traditional and Integrative Medicine.  For a whole month, I have a future M.D. to “convert” to Chinese medicine heh heh.

Anyway, during one of our rounds, she mentions to me that the subject of Chinese herbal medicine was brought up during her rounds with another doctor.  This other doctor encouraged her to study Philippine herbs instead of Chinese herbs because obviously, using indigenous resources is more cost-efficient than importing from China.  Also, indigenous materia medica would also be more apt and appropriate for the environment in which it grows.  Ma Huang works well in northern China for example, but not in tropical Philippines.

This got me thinking.  Just what IS the essence of Chinese medicine?  When I talk to most westerners about Chinese materia medica, most people think of stuff like Ginseng or Cordyceps.  In other words, they think about the individual materials.  Some folks with more experience might think of individual formulas – I know of a local nephrologist who actually tells patients with stones to take an over the counter stone “melting” formula from China with much success.

But is that what Chinese medicine is?  The individual materia medica?  The Formulae?

No.

The World Health Organization defines traditional medicine as “the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.”  If used outside it’s indigenous culture, it is termed alternative or complementary medicine.  (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs134/en/).

Hence, the idea of medicine is not the drugs, not the acupuncture, not the materia medica.  I’ve even given this example to medical students – if for example, a person takes a certain common antibiotic but uses it for “off-label” purposes (as is rampant in the Philippines), is that person practicing medicine?  Sure, that person is using a medical tool, but not based on the knowledge, skill, and practice on which the art of medicine is based.

Chinese medicine, it can be imputed, is not about the individual materia medica.  It is about the unique theory that the practice is based on.  In particular, Chinese herbal medicine is not about the individual materia, it is about how they are used and the framework in which they are used.

Ephedra has it’s specific indications in Chinese Medicine.  Weight loss is not one of them.  Therefore, using ephedra in weight loss  - even if the ephedra is a commonly used Chinese materia medica – is not practicing Chinese medicine.

American Ginseng is grown in Wisconsin in the United States.  Frankincense and Myrrh are more associated with the Middle than the Far East.  Yet all are used in Chinese herbal medicine so long as they can be made to fit within the tradition.

So how do I reconcile my student’s story with this?

Philippine herbs can be studied and classified according to the system of Four Natures and Five Tastes.  Once this is done, it is a matter of substituting appropriate local medicinals for the imported ones, but STILL WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF CHINESE MEDICAL THEORY.  Let’s take a formula – Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang – with two ingredients Dang Gui and Huang Qi.  What if we can find two local materials that can be used to replace either one (with dose adjustments of course).  We could help more people at less cost.

That would be a true integration of cultures.

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Mainstream Medical Journals say Acupuncture Works; Skeptics Irritated.

September 5th, 2010 1 comment

I’m a bit tired so I’ll just quote this article and comment on it:

Outrage over Acupuncture Evidence Attacks NIH (http://www.healthcmi.com/index.php/acupuncturist-news-online/291-outrageacupunctureproofnih)

Doctors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore and the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington published a case vignette in the New England Journal of Medicine recommending acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain. The article cites that patients with lower back pain account for over $90 billion in annual health care expenses in the US. The doctors conclude that acupuncture is an effective means for treating lower back pain based partly on a recent study of 6,359 patients published in Spine1. For the lower back pain patient in the case study presented, 10-12 acupuncture treatments over an 8 week period are recommended.

Hmmm, why do these names sound familiar?  Oh I recall!  I had cited the University of Maryland Medical Center for it’s excellent website resource on astragalus root (Huang qi) research.  (http://qi-spot.com/2009/10/20/astragalus-root-for-swine-flu/).   Apparently, those guys are quite open minded.

So anyway, what this means is that some doctors published their opinions that acupuncture should be recommended.  Fair enough.  Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, right?  If it’s wrong, let it be proven wrong through tact and reasoning.

NOT.

The pro-acu docs cite extensive evidence:

The doctors cite physiological phenomena that measure the effects of acupuncture. Local anesthesia at needle insertion sites block the the analgesic effects of acupuncture showing that acupuncture is dependent upon neural innervation2. Acupuncture has been proven to cause the release of endogenous opioids in brain-stem, subcortical, and limbic structures3,4. Acupuncture has also been proven to induce the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol from the pituitary gland thereby creating a systemic anti-inflammatory response5. Functional MRI studies in humans reveal that acupuncture stimulates limbic and basal forebrain areas involved in pain processing6. PET scan MRIs (positron-emission tomography) show that acupuncture increases opioid binding potential in the brain for several days7. Acupuncture has also been proven to mechanically stimulate connective tissues8, release adenosine at the site of needle stimulation9, and increase local blood blow10. The doctors then cite clinical trials showing the efficaciousness of acupuncture in the treatment of thousands of patients10-15.

So what do some skeptics do?  Do they try to base their argument on refuting the evidence?

Despite this overwhelming evidence proving the mechanisms of action and efficaciousness of acupuncture, skeptics were outraged at the publication of an article supportive of acupuncture in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine. An article recently posted in the Forbes “science business” section stated that the article is “embarrassing” and that acupuncture “infiltrates” the University of Maryland Medical School. In the article, the author calls acupuncture “pseudoscience” and states that it is based on “magical thinking of non-existent life-force.” The skeptic author’s only proof of his theory is that one of the many studies cited in the article found that acupuncture was only 47.6% effective for the treatment of lower back pain and that sham acupuncture was 44.2% effective. Therefore, the author concludes that using “toothpicks” randomly on the human body will have the same pain relieving effects as acupuncture. What the author fails to mention in the Forbes attack article is that conventional western medicine therapy (a combination of drugs, physical therapy, and exercise) was only 27.4% effective in that very same study. Should we therefore abolish western medicine by MDs and call it pseudoscience? Acupuncturists have noted that the success of sham acupuncture noted in that particular study of 1,162 patients in Germany reveals that poorly placed acupuncture needles also derive benefit for the patient.

I have already blogged at length on the physiologic differences between sham and real acupuncture (http://qi-spot.com/2010/04/30/definite-proof-acupuncture-more-than-placebo/) and why it SEEMS that acupuncture is hard to validate using holy grail of western medicine studies – the double blind study (http://qi-spot.com/2010/03/30/how-to-research-acupuncture/).

What I also find interesting is the insistence of skeptics that acupuncture works by balancing Qi or something.  That is the lynchpin of their argument.  I can hear it now:

Skeptic: “They believe in some quasi mystical energy flow!  That means acupuncture MUST be quackery!”

Acupuncturist:  ”There are modern, scientifically proven phenomena that explains what we mean by qi flow.  The “needling sensation” is a result of stimulation of nerve fibers, and can be inhibited by certain drugs.  Qi can also be used to mean function, so when “qi” is deficient, one can say there may be decreased circulation to a certain area, or decreased organ function.  An excess of qi can mean a muscle is too tense… (cites more examples)”

Skeptic: (oblivious) “They believe in some quasi mystical energy flow!  That means acupuncture MUST be quackery!”

Acupuncturist:  ”Never mind.”

Seriously, I feel that way sometimes, talking to skeptics.  What’s the point?  You can treat pain in these people and they’ll assign all sorts of reasons EXCEPT the obvious – acupuncture works.

The use of the word “toothpick” also indicates a lack of even a basic awareness of how acupuncture is performed.  You don’t just “prick” people, you insert the needle and manipulate it.

Oh well…

And lastly, a list of references cited by the link I cited…

References

1. Yuan J, Purepong N, Kerr DP, Park J, Bradbury I, McDonough S. Effectiveness of acupuncture for low back pain: a systematic review. Spine 2008;33:E887-E900.

2. Wang SM, Kain ZN, White P. Acupuncture analgesia: I. The scientific basis. Anesth Analg 2008;106:602-10.

3. Han JS. Acupuncture: neuropeptide release produced by electrical stimulation of different frequencies. Trends Neurosci 2003;26:17-22.

4. Pomeranz B. Scientific research into acupuncture for the relief of pain. J Altern Complement Med 1996;2:53-60.

5. Li A, Lao L, Wang Y, et al. Electroacupuncture activates corticotrophin-releasing hormone-containing neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus to alleviate edema in a rat model of inflammation. BMC Complement Altern Med 2008;8:20.

6. Dhond RP, Kettner N, Napadow V. Neuroimaging acupuncture effects in the human brain. J Altern Complement Med 2007;13:603-16.

7. Harris RE, Zubieta JK, Scott DJ, Napa- dow V, Gracely RH, Clauw DJ. Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on mu-opioid receptors (MORs). Neuroimage 2009;47:1077-85.

8. Langevin HM, Churchill DL, Wu J, et al. Evidence of connective tissue involvement in acupuncture. FASEB J 2002;16:872-4.

9. Goldman N, Chen M, Fujita T, et al. Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture. Nat Neurosci 2010 May 30 (Epub ahead of print).

10. Sandberg M, Lundeberg T, Lindberg LG, Gerdle B. Effects of acupuncture on skin and muscle blood flow in healthy subjects. Eur J Appl Physiol 2003;90:114-9.

11. Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, et al. Acupuncture in patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:450-7.

12. Haake M, Muller HH, Schade-Brittinger C, et al. German Acupuncture Trials (GERAC) for chronic low back pain: randomized, multicenter, blinded, paralel-group trial with 3 groups. Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1892-8. [Erratum, Arch In- tern Med 2007;167:2072.]

13. Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, et al. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch In- tern Med 2009;169:858-66.

14. Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Thorpe L, et al. Randomised controlled trial of a short course of traditional acupuncture compared with usual care for persistent non-specific low back pain. BMJ 2006; 333:623. 15. Witt CM, Jena S, Selim D, et al. Prag- matic randomized trial evaluating the clinical and economic effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:487-96.

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Yu Ping Feng San for Allergic Rhinitis

October 23rd, 2009 1 comment

(above picture courtesy of http://luo-xue.com/HerbsandFormulas/thumbnails.php?album=17)

Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Screen Powder) is well known Chinese herbal formula used primarily to build up one’s resistance to environmental excesses.  In plain language, it helps people resist weather changes and thus get less allergies and flus.  Jade is long known in oriental culture as a material that preserves and was even used by some ancient chinese royalty as material for coffins – to prevent the body from decaying (supposedly).  Anyway now we know where the “Jade Screen” part of the name comes from.  The “screen” protecting us from environmental disease factors is reinforced, much like filling in the cracks in a hypothetical great wall of the human body.

YuPingFengSan 11 300x225 Yu Ping Feng San for Allergic Rhinitis

Ingredients used in Yu Ping Feng San

The Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy of the Department of Health, Taiwan has an article in it’s 1997 yearbook about Yu Ping Feng San.  I am quoting the abstract here for our reference:

Research on Diagnosis and Treatment of TraditionalChinese Medicine(TCM) to Allergic Rhinitis
Jaung – Geng Lin
China Medical College

In order to explain the function of Yu Ping Feng San(prescription of TCM) for treatment on allergic rhinitis and from the action of the role of Yu Ping Feng San and its composition of Huangpi, Baizhu, Fangfeng, and Chingqi in the network of cytokine, Fifteen healthy youths and adults (average age, 23.13¡Ó5.15 years) were selected from the China Medical College Hospital for participation in this study, and each person is blooded 30cc to set in heparined-blood for test in mononuclear cell (MNC) and polymorphonuclear cell (PMN). Add in stimulator (comparison set) separately and five concentrations (5ƒÝ g/ml, 10ƒÝ g/ml, 100ƒÝ g/ml, 250ƒÝ g/ml, and 500ƒÝ g/ml) each of two different prescriptions of Yu Ping Feng San, each containing the same ingredients (Huangqi, Baizhu and Fangfeng) in different proportions and labeled G (1:1:1) and J (3:1:1), as well as the same five concentrations of the individual ingredients of Yu Ping Feng San, Huangqi (an authentic medicinal root used in traditional Chinese medicine), Baizhu, Fangfeng and Chingqi (a non-authentic substitute for Huangqi), totaling 30 samples(Experimental set), for testing and studying. Therefore, the subject of this research: the study of TCM for treatment on allergic rhinitis(1) Prescription of TCM for allergic rhinitis Yu Ping Feng San and its composition and Chingqi In Vitro test to study on their effect on the secretion of interleukin-4 (IL-4) from mononuclear cells and the secretion of histamine from neutrophils, in the test, makes use of Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay(ELISA) to get the concentration. From the data obtained, we use SAS statistic software for analysis.

¡@¡@Results indicated that Yu Ping Feng San prescription G effectively reduced histamine levels (3.22¡Ó0.61 ng/ml vs 1.33¡Ó0.46 ng/ml, P < 0.05 at concentrations of 100ƒÝ g/ml) as well as IL-4 levels (18.43¡Ó5.18 pg/ml vs 10.61¡Ó0.52 pg/ml, P < 0.05 at concentrations of 100ƒÝ g/ml). Yu Ping Feng San prescription J also effectively reduced IL-4 levels (18.43¡Ó5.18 pg/ml vs 6.57¡Ó0.97 pg/ml, P < 0.05 at concentrations of 500m g/ml), however, histamine release increased (3.22¡Ó0.61 ng/ml vs 4.44¡Ó0.77 ng/ml, P < 0.05 at concentrations of 250ƒÝ g/ml). By concentration, Yu Ping Feng San prescription G presented the best inhibitive effect on histamine and IL-4 at the concentration of 100ƒÝ g/ml. Further analysis showed that one component, Fangfeng, played a major role in inhibiting histamine and IL-4 (Dunnett¡¦s t test; P < 0.05); Huangqi actually increased the concentration of histamine (6.64¡Ó2.57 ng/ml vs 14.88¡Ó3.78 ng/ml, P < 0.05 at concentrations of 250ƒÝ g/ml). In addition, we also investigated the effects of Chingqi (a non-authentic substitute for Huangqi, now supplying over 90% of the Huangqi market in Taiwan). In vitro experiments demonstrated that Chingqi produced the least significant effect (LSD ; p< 0.05). Therefore, we believe that Yu Ping Feng San improves conditions of allergic rhinitis mainly by inhibiting the release of histamine and IL-4. This study also provides substantial evidence to support the use of authentic ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine preparations. The fact that among the two prescriptions of Yu Ping Feng San, prescription G, which contained a higher proportion of Fangfeng and a lower proportion of Huangqi than prescription J, effected greater inhibition of histamine and IL-4, can be used as a clinical guide for the effective treatment of allergic rhinitis We hope this investigation will provide a useful research model for the integration of Chinese and western approaches to medicine.

Interesting observations:

fangfeng Yu Ping Feng San for Allergic Rhinitis

Fang Feng Guards against Wind

Fangfeng (Ledebouriella Root) is known for expelling Wind.  The name itself means to guard against wind.  In other words, it is a main herb in relieving symptoms.  This research shows it reduces IL-4 and histamine levels.

Huangqi (Astragalus Root) is an herb that we have mentioned in an earlier post.  It is known to increase immune function.  In this case, it actually increased histamine production. This is not unexpected because histamine triggers the inflammatory response to invaders.

What this study also does is that it helps clinicians make decisions as to how to modify prescriptions as needed.  I would assume that rhinitis caused by an allergy would treated with less huangqi and more fangfeng, whereas more huangqi can be used if an active microbiologic pathogen is suspected.

Source:

1997 Yearbook, Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy of the Department of Health, Taiwan.  23 October 2009 <http://www.ccmp.gov.tw/en/research/result_detail.asp?relno=51&selno=0&no=86&detailno=204>

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Astragalus Root for Swine Flu?

October 20th, 2009 2 comments

It has been reported in the media that Dr. Andrew Weil, MD has been critiqued by the US Food and Drug Administration for promoting astragalus root (huang qi) in general and his “Immune Booster” formula against Swine Flu.  My opinions on Whine, er Swine Flu aside, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss Huang Qi in general and it’s use against flus in particular.

But first I have to correct the online article as it showed the astragalus stem and leaves on the page.

 Astragalus Root for Swine Flu?

Leaves of the astragalus plant

Actually the Huang Qi often used is the astragalus ROOT

10024614 300x166 Astragalus Root for Swine Flu?

Astragalus root sliced and ready for use

Some excerpts from the article:

In a stern warning letter, the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission told Weil Lifestyle LLC to stop marketing a dietary supplement called “Immune Support Formula” as a product that could “diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people.”

…The regulators go on to call out several other statements on the Web site about studies and scientific evidence to back the antiviral and immune-boosting power of the herb astragalus, an ingredient in Immune Support Formula.

…The NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says, “The evidence for using astragalus for any health condition is limited.” Data from small and preliminary studies suggest the herb may help the immune system fight infections, the NCCAM says, and researchers funded by the center are studying astragalus’s effects on the immune system.

…On “Larry King Live” last month, Weil recommended some “interesting strategies” to combat swine flu, including taking capsules of astragalus, which he called “perfectly safe.”

Offhand, I must say that while I admire Dr. Weil for having the courage to stand up for traditional medicine, I believe it is irresponsible to call astragalus, or any other medicinal plant “perfectly safe” and on Larry King Live yet!

I know that what he probably meant was that the amount of astragalus in his formulations were within accepted safety levels, but I believe that ordinary laymen who hear such statements as “perfectly safe” would interpret that to mean “I can take it like candy.”  Not the case.  Sure, it has a high theapeutic index, with a dosage range from 9-30 grams (relatively high) but still there is an UPPER LIMIT.

But what is Astragalus Root all about?  It’s common english name is milkvetch and it’s scientific name is Astragalus propinquus or Astragalus membranaceus according to some.  The component used in Chinese Medicine is the root and thus the herbal component is called Radix Astralagi.

It is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine.  According to tcm-healthinfo.org it can be used:

Orally, Huang Qi/Astragalus is used for treating the common cold and upper respiratory infections; to strengthen and regulate the immune system; and to increase the production of blood cells particularly in individuals with chronic degenerative disease or in individuals with cancer undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It is also used orally for chronic nephritis and diabetes. Astragalus is also used orally as an antibacterial and antiviral; a tonic; liver protectant; anti-inflammatory; antioxidant; and as a diuretic, vasodilator, or hypotensive agent.
Topically, Huang Qi/Astragalus is used as a vasodilator and to speed healing.
In combination with Ligustrum lucidum (glossy privet), astragalus is used orally for treating breast, cervical, and lung cancers.

Let’s take a sampling of research articles about the effects of Astragalus

Shen et al.  “Differential Effects of Isoflavones, from Astragalus Membranaceus and Pueraria Thomsonii, on the Activation of PPAR-alpha, PPAR-gamma, and Adipocyte Differentiation In Vitro“  American Society for Nutrition J. Nutr. 136:899-905, April 2006

Our data suggest the potential value of isoflavones, especially biochanin A and their parent botanicals, as antidiabetic agents and for use in regulating lipid metabolism. – from abstract.

Here’s an article so good I have to quote the whole thing with some points highlighted…

Could an herbal therapy that’s been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system hold the key to an effective treatment for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, better known as AIDS? A new study by scientists at the UCLA AIDS Institute says that’s possible.

The research, set to be published in the Journal of Immunology November 15th (available on-line now at http://www.jimmunol.org/cgi/content…), concludes astragalus root contains a substance that could make it a powerful weapon in the fight against the HIV virus that causes AIDS. “This has the potential to be either added to or possibly even replace the HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), which is not tolerated well by some patients and is also costly,” co-author Rita Effros, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, said in a press statement.

So what specifically appears to make astragalus effective in treating HIV infection? The key finding in the UCLA study shows a substance in the herbal therapy prevents or slows down the progressive shortening of a part of immune system cells called telomeres.

A telomere is a region found at the end of each cell chromosome. It does not contain genes but does contain repeated DNA sequences. As immune cells age, telomeres gets shorter and shorter when the cells divide. Eventually, the cells change, can no longer divide and their ability to fight infections is compromised. This phenomenon is dubbed replicative senescence.

For a strong immune system to function correction, a great deal of cell division has to take place. For example, when a virus invades the body, killer T-cells (known as CD8 T-lymphocytes) have receptors that recognize the invader and begin to create versions of themselves to fight the virus — through division, they create more and more of an immune system “army” to knock out the virus. In most healthy people, the telomeres in cells are long enough to allow cells to divide many times without a glitch. What’s more, T-cells can switch on an enzyme called telomerase to prevent the telomeres from shortening and to boost the ability of the cells to divide.

“The problem is that when we’re dealing with a virus that can’t be totally eliminated from the body, such as HIV, the T-cells fighting that virus can’t keep their telomerase turned on forever. They turn off, and telomeres get shorter and they enter this stage of replicative senescence,” Dr. Effros explained in a statement to the press.

Previous studies have shown that injecting the telomerase gene into T-cells can keep the telomeres from shortening so they fight HIV longer than they normally would be able to. However, this complicated and expensive gene therapy isn’t a practical way to treat the millions of people infected with the HIV virus. Good news: the current study shows that treatment with a natural substance called TAT2 found in astragalus could be a far better approach.

The reason? Not only did the researchers find that the astragalus-derived TAT2 slowed the shortening of telomeres, but it also boosted the CD8 T-lymphocytes production of soluble factors called chemokines and cytokines. And these substances have been shown in other research to shown to block the replication of the HIV virus.

“The ability to enhance telomerase activity and antiviral functions of CD8 T-lymphocytes suggests that this strategy (using TAT2 from astragalus) could be useful in treating HIV disease, as well as immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to other viral infections associated with chronic diseases or aging,” the researchers wrote in their research paper.

According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center web site (http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/691…), astragalus has no reported adverse effects. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to support and enhance the immune system and for heart disease. Currently, the herb is widely used in China for chronic hepatitis, colds and upper respiratory infections and as an adjunctive therapy in cancer. The remarkable herbal therapy has also shown promise in animal experiments as a way to prevent dementia.

WOW.  “Possibly replace HAART”.  THIS is the Huang Qi that is they doubt has an effect against a FLU?

Some other research cited by this article from the University of Maryland Medical Center website

Chen KT, Su CH, Hsin LH, et al. Reducing fatigue of athletes following oral administration of huangqi jianzhong tang. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2002;23(8):757-761.

Duan P, Wang ZM. [Clinical study on effect of Astragalus in efficacy enhancing and toxicity reducing of chemotherapy in patients of malignant tumor]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi.2002;22(7):515-517.

Hao Y, Qiu QY, Wu J. [Effect of Astragalus polysaccharides in promoting neutrophil-vascular endothelial cell adhesion and expression of related adhesive molecules]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2004;24(5):427-430.

Hei ZQ, Zhang JJ, Lin SQ, et al. [Effects of Astragalus membranaceus injection on nitric oxide and endothelin concentration of intestinal mucosa after hemorrhage shock-reperfusion in rats]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2004;29(5):444-447.

Kim SH, Lee SE, Oh H, et al. The radioprotective effects of bu-zhong-yi-qi-tang: a prescription of traditional Chinesemedicine astragalus. J Chin Med. 2002;30(1):127-137.

Mao SP, Cheng KL, Zhou YF. [Modulatory effect of Astragalus membranaceus on Th1/Th2 cytokine in patients with herpes simplex keratitis]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2004;24(2):121-123.

Shao BM, Xu W, Dai H, et al. A study on the immune receptors for polysaccharides from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus, a Chinese medicinal herb. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004;320(4):1103-1111.

Shi FS, Yang ZG, Di GP. [Effect of Astragalus saponin on vascular endothelial cell and its function in burn patients]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2001;21(10):750-751.

So the evidence IS there.  But why the need to bash it?  Like I said, if properly used, the commonly found and inexpensive Astragalus root (btw, it’s also used in contemporary asian cooking) can REPLACE expensive drugs that are money-makers for Big Pharma… maybe.

Sources:

Hensley, Scott.  “FDA and FTC Slam Swine Flu Claims For Dr. Weil Supplement” http://www.npr.org 16 October 2009.  20 October 2009 <http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/10/fda_and_ftc_slam_swine_flu_cla.html>

tcm.health-info.org “Huang Qi – Astragalus Root”. 20 October 2009 <http://tcm.health-info.org/Herbology.Materia.Medica/huangqi-properties.htm>

Shen et al.  “Differential Effects of Isoflavones, from Astragalus Membranaceus and Pueraria Thomsonii, on the Activation of PPAR-alpha, PPAR-gamma, and Adipocyte Differentiation In Vitro“  American Society for Nutrition J. Nutr. 136:899-905, April 2006

University of Maryland Medical Center. 20, October 2009 <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/astragalus-000223.htm>

Baker, Sherry. NaturalNews.com 13 November 2008. 20 October 2009 <http://www.naturalnews.com/024799_HIV_astragalus_AIDS.html>

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