Chemo Side Effects Reduced With Chinese Herbs, Says Yale

Chemo patients helped with Chinese herbsThis remarkable research conducted at Yale University is incredible news for Americans.  Asian societies, on the other hand, have used these Chinese herbs for generations and understand that boiling peony root, with licorice root, red dates and skullcap root can help the gastro-intestinal tract especially when one is suffering from diarrhea.

The recently announced research proved a drug made from four traditional Chinese herbs, dubbed PHY906, countered the side effects of chemo in rats.  The researchers decided to give the mice, who were on a chemotherapy drug which has side effects of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, this blend of natural herbs.   Not only did the four Chinese herbs improve the mices symptoms of diarrhea but it simultaneously cut the cancerous tumors growth.

 “This combination of chemotherapy and herbs represents a marriage of Western and Eastern approaches,” said lead researcher Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng.

A study such as this and so many others, are slowly beginning to open up American minds to the incredible health benefits of Chinese herbs. I found it interesting to listen to the interview with Dr. Cheng. He states that the four herbs must be used in combination and cooked together.  Used individually, they did not perform the same function. He says, “deletion of any of those herbs, you have a different impact on three biological endpoints.”  This is exactly what Chinese medicine textbooks have told us for years. It is the combination of herbs cooked together that create the synergy and provide the valuable healing medicinal action.

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become a core component in  treating cancer patients. Diarrhea is one of the major side effects of the cancer drug irinotecan.  According to  Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng this herbal remedy is based on the formula which was first established 1,800 years ago and is also known as Huang Qin Tang. It was historically used and still is used today for treatment of diarrhea and GI disorder[s].  The popularity of natural herbal medicine has been expanding each year in America as more studies like this are published.

No Chinese Herbs, Just Gratitude

I wanted to post something different, something completely off  the topic of Chinese herbal medicine.  Sometimes life is just short and passing us by and without a little gratitude we forget how good life can really be. And not every blog needs to always talk about Chinese herbs, everyday.

So here's a thought… If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.  To feel even more grateful read the rest below.

Gratitude for herbs for sleep, my best friends

Thanks and credit to Jason Mraz. 

Supplementing Cancer Treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine

It seems inevitable that each week I hear of a new cancer diagnosis, from a friend, patient or acquaintance.  What is going on?  Does everyone get some type of cancer just because they are aging?  Cancer seems to have morphed into more a chronic disease today rather than an automatic death sentence, but too many people are catching this bug. Thankfully, we have a plethora of alternative choices to accompany Western medical treatments.   Acupuncture is quickly becoming one of the most readily accepted complementary therapies to relieve the side-effects of very toxic treatments and build back our natural immune systems.

An interesting  survey done on Hong Kong cancer patients studied how they combined Traditional Chinese Medicine  (TCM) with the Western treatment they were undergoing. A colleague of mine Jennifer Dubowsky, L.Ac. had this to say about the study.

Data was collected from almost 800 cancer patients in Hong Kong. Of those, 42.9% used Western medicine practices for cancer treatment exclusively. The remaining 57.1% used at least one form of Chinese Medicine and 5 patients used TCM  exclusively. Interestingly, many of the cancer patients did not tell their doctors that they were using TCM along with the Western treatments. The Chinese patients were not comfortable talking about their preferences, at least with their doctors who are practicing Western medicine. 

 Some of my patients have experienced the same discomfort talking to their Western medical doctors about alternative treatments, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Today, more physicians are knowledgeable about TCM, many are comfortable and some are actively curious. I believe that patients have led this change and am happy to see us move toward a more integrative approach to health care.

For more information on how Acupuncture can be helpful while undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and other Western treatments check out this post at the NIH  (National Institute of Health – Cancer Institute.

Chinese herbs for asthma, have you heard of this?

Chinese herbs for AsthmaYes, Chinese herbs for asthma sufferers. This comes straight from the horses mouth,  the American Academy of  Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  Stated in September 2005,  “This is the first well-controlled study in which an anti-asthma Chinese herbal medicine has been found to be as effective as a corticosteroid drug. Additional clinical studies of ASHMI in the USA are planned.” 
That was four years ago and I couldn’t find any published results since then of  additional studies in the U.S. Not sure why. This study was published by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. A fine institution like Mt Sinai telling us Chinese herbs are AS effective as a corticosteroid drug would certainly interest a large segment of the population who suffer with asthma.
It’s a real shame that we don’t have more research studies on Chinese herbs in the U.S. but if these kinds of results  were repeated the drug companies might have some competition selling some very profitable drugs. Corticosteroid treatment for asthma has become the norm and some of those drugs rank in the top 10 most popular prescriptions on the market.
If you choose to read the published report you’ll see that neither the patients or medical staff involved in this study were informed to which group was getting the herbs or the prednisone tablets for their asthma. Double blind studies such as this are conducted everyday in China and Taiwan but the English speaking world is rarely provided with such documentation.  Do  me a favor, if you find any follow up studies on asthma and Chinese herbs, drop a line or a comment below, so we can all be privy to the most recent medical research.   Also leave a comment on how you feel about the amount of research being done in the USA on natural alternatives for diseases such as asthma. ?

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.