Integrating Supplements and Chinese Herbs Into Western Medicine

It's been nearly a month since I had a chance to listen to an incredible group of M.D's  talk about what "Wellness" looks like today.  So I've had a little time to discuss the topic and think it over.

Is wellness not missing work?  Is it simply feeling healthy?  Wellness, no doubt looks and feels different for different people.  I believe wellness starts with the right information.  Information on how to stay healthy no matter what age you are and information on how to be well if you don't feel well now.   

But what else? What do you really need, to stay "well"?  Are wellness supplements needed and which ones will really make a difference?    This was the central theme of the 8th annual conference called Natural Supplements: An Evidence Based Update held in San Diego by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.  If you are not familiar with the term Integrative Medicine it's about time you should be. 

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, one of the many incredible presenters over the weekend said it best, "Integrative medicine just makes sense—it is a re-emergence of viewing the patient as a whole human being, a person with a rich story, a history and set of beliefs and a culture that you must consider in the co-creation of a treatment plan."  Dr. LowDog is on the faculty of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine  at the University of Arizona where she currently serves as the Director of the Fellowship. Dr. Andrew Weil has this to say about her, "Dr. Low Dog is one of the world's leading authorities on botanical medicine & dietary supplements."  

Over the course of three days of lectures there was an wealth of information, certainly too much for this blog.

But in regards to "Wellness"  a review of natural supplement research presented by Dr. Joseph Betz discussed the "Best Supplements of the Year".   In his review of scientific literature, six of his top nine supplement list were Chinese herbs.  Six on the "BEST of 2010" list. How Fantastic!!  These 6 Chinese herbs have been studied repeatedly and systematic reviews have been published in the most popular medical journals. 

They are:  (in alphabetical order) 

1.  Bilberry –  (Man Yue Ju)   (Active ingredient Anthocyanidins)

2.  Ginko Biloba – (Bai Gou)

3.  Milk Thistle – Silybum Marianumn – (Shui Fei Ji)

4.  Pepperment (Bo He)

5.  Red Yeast Rice – (Hong Mi or Chi Qu)

6.  Thunder God Vine – Tripterygium Wilfordi Hook (Lei Gong Teng)

Just for the record the other three natural supplements on Dr. Betz's list for 2010 were Pomegranate Juice, Echinacea and Cranberry Juice.

It will take at least another blog or more to talk about all the benefits of these amazing herbs. For now, we in Chinese herbal medicine fields feel somewhat vindicated that Western medicine is beginning to catch up and recognize what Asian cultures have known for centuries.  Finally the Western literature begins to surface on Chinese herbal remedies. 


Note: Dr. Joseph Betz works at the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health (NIH)