Traditional Chinese Medicine – around the world in 60 seconds

I  like tChinese_Herbs1he CNN news piece called around the world in 60 seconds.  It gives you a quick blurb of  whats happening around the world.   Here’s my take on that theme.  The spread of Traditional Chinese Medicine  (TCM ) around the world in 60 seconds. 

Hope you like numbers,  in regards to TCM here’s some interesting ones.  In the past 10 years, TCM has spread to over 160 countries and regions around the world with total exports of TCM products exceeding $1 billion. The treatment, education and scientific and technological communities of  TCM have continuously expanded.  70 countries have signed 94 governmental agreements on TCM content. There are currently 47 TCM institutions of higher learning in China and over 600,000 qualified TCM medical practitioners over 370,000 of which are certified TCM physicians.  

In America alone, 30 million people have tried acupuncture. The FDA  estimates that Americans are spending approximately $500 million per year on acupuncture services.  There are about 18,000 acupuncturists in the U.S. and  that  number increases about 10% each year.  Presently there are approximately 50 accredited schools in the U.S. to study acupuncture and TCM.  Britain, Israel and Australia all top the list with the highest number of acupuncturists per country outside of  the US. Canada and Asian countries.

In the U.S., besides pain management, one of the most studied benefits of acupuncture is IVF procedures. Acupuncture concurrent with IVF treatments  increases  the chance of becoming pregnant by as much as 65% and  provides as much as 91% increased chance  in a live birth.   Those are some impressive statistics. This is of course only one example of how acupuncture and TCM can improve people’s lives.

A fun fact: cruise ships now regularly have acupuncturists aboard. Public demand is obviously driving that business.  On a more academic note,  The National Institute for Health (NIH) operates the  Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine with a 121 million dollar budget,  much of which support acupuncture research studies. Currently our congressmen are discussing a bill which for the first time would  include Acupuncture into medicare reimbursement.  That’s impressive by itself.  The American government is actually considering a form of health care which relies on prevention and wellness.

Things are changing rapidly in the TCM world, stay tuned, we are growing exponentially everyday and that’s my 60 second update.

The difference of government responses to H1N1, the Swine flu

H1N1 has been declared a pandemic by WHO  (World Health Organization) and many of us seem to know someone who’s already had the swine flu. WHO

I just heard from a friend  that a cabin full of  12 year old campers were quarantined to their cabin as a result of the swine flu.  Now that were getting more comfortable with the first pandemic in our life time, I want to explore the differences  in responses from the two most powerful governments in the world, the Chinese and the American.

The U.S. official government response  at time of publishing is this:  a state of emergency has been declared and well known pharmaceuticals  such as Sanofi-Aventis,  Novartis, Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline and Solvay  are all  in the process of creating test batches of  vaccines.  Government websites are to report updates within 24 hours once new information is released, unfortunately this rarely happens.   Not very reassuring considering our elected representatives are currently debating health care reform.

The United States Food & Drug Association, FDA, on one hand has given authorization  for use of “unapproved or uncleared” medical products (Relenza & Tamiflu Anti-virals) following this declaration of emergency.  On the other hand, FDA has sent out warning letters to websites to cease the selling  of any product or making any claims about how to prevent and treat the Swine Flu.  I would define this as an aggressive approach   I’m in favor of cracking down on websites that scam the public but since neither Tamiflu or Relenza have proven effectiveness or  have a scientific basis for this new viral strain, how is that any different from selling a homeopathic product, supplement, air purifier, surgical mask etc etc. that also has no scientific data behind it?   This virus strain has never been seen before. How do we know what is the best cure.  Will we really need any medicinal at all?  For most people a few days  of  bed rest is the  cure.  The camp kids are just fine by the way.  The official statement from U.S. Centers for Disease Control says “the majority of people infected with the virus make a full recovery without requiring medical attention or antiviral drugs.”

The Chinese Government has taken a different approach to the H1N1 virus. China is also in the midst of searching for a vaccine and is currently  in the testing phase. China is expanding  it’s capacity for  vaccine manufacturing and  government sources say  “by the end of this year we may produce the amount necessary for 5 percent of the worlds population”.  But the Chinese government has gone beyond the vaccine route. The government has also allocated  nearly 1.5 million dollars (equivalent)  to research  Traditional Chinese Medicine in regards to H1N1.   Four million will be spent on clinical test and the rest on laboratory research for a combination of Chinese herbs that  will best prevent and treat H1N1.  Presently,  China is reporting 1537 confirmed cases of H1N1 and no fatalities.  This is the same government that dealt with a SAR epidemic not to long ago, for which a Chinese herb formula was found successful in treating.

Interestingly, along with this theme, the European Union has  just granted 1 million euros for ground breaking research  for a project entitled “Good Practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research in the Post-Genomic Era.”  “Researchers at Kings College in London will review the current status of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) research, identify problems and propose solutions by applying modern methods of investigation as well as providing a forum for the exchange of opinions, experience and expertise among scientists in the EU and China.”

The road map to prevention and cure for this emerging pandemic is being written as we speak. I would like to see the integration of Western and Chinese approaches to medicinal therapies for H1N1,  how about you?   Which direction should our government lead us or should the medical community take the lead rather than the pharmaceutical companies.  I look forward to your comments.

Eating the Afterbirth – Placenta Is A Chinese Medicine Tradition

cooking placentaThis blog, about the human placenta may sound "out there", but more and more women are now calling "a placenta cooking lady" to prepare their placenta into pills to take after child birth. The placenta is attached to the fetus via the umbilical cord.  Once the baby is born the placenta and cord are considered medical waste (so we are told) at the hospital. We've known for some time the umbilical cord is a source of stem cell research and many wealthy parents now have the cord frozen and stored just in case it is needed in the future. 

Recently, this trend is gaining popularity in the West. However, its been widely known and accepted that the human placenta has tremendous value in the East. Chinese Medicine has used  human placenta as part of their materica medica for generations.  Ingesting your placenta can help a new mother recuperate from childbirth and rebuild lost blood and nutrients.

You can have your placenta cooked, dried and placed into pills to supplement your child birth recovery.  Those that have used placenta pills after birth swear they have a shorter recovery from postpartum hemorrhaging, more energy from replenished nutrients, increased milk production and no post-partum depression. In fact, a good friend of mine recently gave birth and she has just finished taking her placenta pills.  This was the first time she had placenta prepared into pills and she reported feeling great and said it was a little like a caffeine type energy boost without the caffeine.  She had an extremely easy recovery overall and this was her sixth child.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, placenta is considered a powerful and sacred yang tonic.  Traditionally, the placenta is cooked with herbs and wine.  Wine in Chinese medicine has a dispersing action and therefore helps to distribute the placentas nutrients throughout the women's body.  The placenta is full of natural oxytocins which are responsible for contracting the uterus, it also contains  hormones which are believed to be the reason it helps with postpartum depression.  Historically Chinese Medicine has used human placenta for those who have low energy.  Interestingly, it is the only meat that comes from life, not death, and we are the only mammals that do eat their placentas.  Maybe the animal kingdom has something to teach us.

Check out this link at Time Magazine, there is a short video showing how a human placenta is cooked and encapsulated.

Video: placenta it\'s whats for dinner

The Cat, The Birds and The Herbs

CatLast night I was rudely awakened at 3:00 am by a hungry cat.  He climbed up my wind chime which was hanging near a mother dove nesting with her two new babies.  Wind chimes don’t suddenly start chiming, normally they start out kind of slow and steady and usually build in volume as the wind picks up.  This was not the case last night.  The chimes were attacked as were the birds. 

  I heard a bird take flight and I jumped out of bed to see the culprit.  I was too late and it was too dark. Upset by the attack and the rude wake up call, all I could think of was  “will I be able to get back to sleep”.   Mind not quite awake… I  almost forget that I have the perfect Chinese herb formula for sleep.  I’m not usually up at 3 AM  and almost forgot,  a perfect opportunity to use my “I sleep”  herb formula in the middle of the night. When I’ve had a particularly stressful day I will use “iSleep” before going to bed.   I sleep so soundly I never had the need to use it in middle of my night.  Perfect opportunity.  So I took one packet at 3 AM.  

Happy to report I got  back to sleep within thirty minutes, even as I ruminated over the fate of the mommy dove and her babies we’ve been watching for the last two months.   Did the cat get all three.  Did the babies get away.  Could the babies fly yet. My mind  finding any reason to chatter on. (This was  the second set of eggs this year for our mommy dove or maybe it’s daughter of the first mom.  In any case, every year  a mommy dove has a nest somewhere in our yard and we are happy to be her hosts.)

iSleep Herb Pac passed the test  last night. I slept like a log till 7:00 when there was yet  another rude awakening, the alarm clock.  I found bird feathers on the ground this morning,  it’s a cruel world out there, but at  least I slept.

"Empty nest this morning"]

"Mommy dove in nest with 2 babies. (Taken just 2 days earlier)  
 
"Feathers on the ground"

4th of July Fireworks and Chinese Medicine

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Another July 4th and Americans, including myself, love their fireworks shows. Most  people know the Chinese invented fireworks but do they know when?  The invention of  gunpowder  was approximately 800 AD.  Gunpowder  was used to make signal flares in 1232, later becoming fireworks.

What  else was going on in China, in the year 1232?  Well, Chinese Medicine was  enjoying more  popularity than ever  with more written text and heavy hitters emerging.  In fact, Chinese  medicine was enjoying a kind of renaissance. The Tang Dynasty (618–907)  already had  a claim to an important text on Pulses. The Huang Di nei Jing, arguably one of  the most important documents in Traditional Chinese Medicine, had already been around approximately 1000 years, (completed by 220 AD).

This year we celebrate our nations 233rd  birthday. Sound pretty young compared to Chinese medical history and the birth of fireworks.

Just as we embrace Chinese pyrotechnics to celebrate our independence we should also embrace another Chinese creation, Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Right now were at the birth of showing our independence  from Western medicine. With the advent of greater acceptance of  Traditional Chinese Medicine we are taking control of our health and well being.  Just as we embrace fireworks this 4th lets also embrace the other Chinese innovations.

Fun Fact:   (Fire rockets were made by filling capped bamboo tubes with gunpowder and iron bits (shrapnel). These lethal weapons were attached to an arrow, lit, and shot from a bow. These were the first solid-fuel rockets. The Chinese used them to fight the invading Mongol hordes.)fireworks