Home > Current Events > Year 2006 June
A review of stories making the headlines.
Plant extract gives hope for diabetics
The Financial Times (London) 9 June, 2006

Bradford Lowell, Chen-Yu Zhang and co-workers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in the journal, Cell Metabolism, write about the use by Chinese doctors of an extract of Gardenia fruit to treat Type 2 diabetes, a disease in which the inability to control blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage and blindness. The researchers report that a chemical called genipin in the fruit extract acts directly on the pancreas in mice, stimulating production of insulin that controls blood sugar levels. It is the first example of a therapy aimed at the pancreatic dysfunction that leads to diabetes and it opens the door to potential new treatments.

TCM needs no clinical proof that it works
China Daily (Hong Kong Edition) 17 June, 2006

In this opinion piece, the commentator, Huang Qing asks whether TCM can or should be judged by Western scientific methods. He poses the question: Will it still be TCM if scientists put TCM through Western-style clinical research studies? TCM scholars often argue, he says, that TCM has its own theoretical background, and that it emphasises and responds to the uniqueness of each patient, unlike Western medicine (therefore making standardized services difficult). The interaction between medicine and patient is more important than the medicine per se. TCM emphasizes treating people, not illnesses, unlike Western medicine and it has been tested by recorded cases for over 2,000 years. Western style research to test TCM's scientific properties is not appropriate, argue its practitioners. The writer concludes the article by saying that "what TCM needs is innovation, rather than slavish adoption of Western scientific practices" to make it "modern".

DOH to evaluate traditional Chinese medical institutions
The Taipei Times (http://www.taipeitimes.com) 21 June, 2006

The Department of Health plans to begin evaluating medical departments and hospitals that practice TCM from July 2006. Chu Wen-chieh, chief of the department's Division of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, said that the committee planned to complete the evaluation process by the end of this year. He added that departments or hospitals that passed the evaluation would be given priority when it came to placing university graduates in internships. The emphasis of the evaluation would be on patients' safety and rights, as well as medical ethics and treatment quality. The evaluations would also be used as reference for the Bureau of National Health Insurance when deciding whether to cover outpatient services in TCM institutions. Chu said the committee believed the new evaluation system would help to improve the quality of TCM treatments.

Remarkable results made between Cambodia-China anti-malaria cooperation
People's Daily (http://english.people.com.cn) 21 June, 2006

A two-day seminar of Cambodia-China Antimalaria Collaboration Project has got underway on Tuesday, aimed at discussing the final results from three years of joint Cambodia-China work on anti-malaria medicine. Doung Socheat, director of National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control stated that "The potential use of this new ACTs (artemisinin-based combination therapy) seems promising in the three years field trial in Kampong Speu Province." The incident rate of malaria cases among children have decreased dramatically from 36.19 percent to 0.13 percent.

Chinese herb recalled after boy poisoned
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 21 June, 2006

The Department of Health asked one importer to recall a batch of the Chinese herb Rhizoma atractylodis following the herbal poisoning case involving a nine-year-old boy. The boy developed symptoms such as flushing, confusion, slurred speech and dry mouth shortly after taking the herbal formula prescribed by a TCM practitioner. He has now recovered. The herb used had been contaminated with harmful impurities. Rhizoma atractylodis is a commonly used herb with properties that include invigorating the stomach and spleen, and is not itself toxic. The Department reminded Chinese medicine practitioners to ensure the quality of herbal medicines and be watchful of contamination of their products by following official government guidelines for wholesalers and retailers of Chinese Herbal Medicines"

Incentive to attract Chinese medicine students
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong Young Post) 22 June, 2006

Hong Kong Baptist University's (HKBU) School of Chinese Medicine has set up a $10 million scholarship fund to attract elite students. The scheme is aimed at getting academic high-flyers to enrol in the school's bachelor of Chinese medicine and Bachelor of Science in biomedical science (double-degree) programme, as well as the bachelor of pharmacy in Chinese medicine. HKBU academic vice-president Herbert Tang said this is the first time they have established a scholarship scheme at faculty level for first-year students. "The tireless promotion of Chinese medicine by the government in recent years means that Hong Kong can develop itself into a global hub of Chinese medicine," said Professor Tang.

City to test secret Chinese medicine on addicts
Shanghai Daily News (http://english.eastday.com) 27 June, 2006

Shanghai will be the first city in China to experiment with TCM to help drug addicts. A typical treatment, comprising recipes reportedly developed by doctors more than 150 years ago to stop opium addictions, will last three to six months and aims to prevent addicts from relapsing back into drug use, the experts said. One recipe that will be tested is the "Jitai Tablet," named after Zen Jitai, a famous physician who lived during the Qing dynasty. The tablet's ingredients include corydalis tuber, red sage root, pearl powder and ginseng. Previous unofficial tests on this medicine revealed that it could help primary or moderate heroin addicts give up their addiction in seven days, a Shanghai-based rehab center reported.

Chinese medicine clinic for hospital
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 29 June, 2006

Baptist Hospital and the Hong Kong Hospital Authority will sign an agreement to set up the private-public Chinese Medicine Research and Service Centre at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Jordan. The Centre, which will open in September or October, will provide the public with an outpatient service that incorporates Chinese and western treatments. The HK government plans to integrate more TCM into its health-care system. At present, with the exception of two medical centres, public TCM services are limited mainly to outpatient consultations. The Hospital Authority runs six TCM clinics and will add three more by the end of the year.

Compiled By: Jennifer Eagleton, BA, MA (Asian Studies), Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.