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A review of stories making the headlines
TCM departments in China receive nearly 300 million annual visits
People's Daily Online (http://english.people.com.cn), 10 September 2006

"About 234 million visits have been made to hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine, another 58.51 million to Chinese medicine sections of comprehensive hospitals," sources from State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) said.

According to the SATCM, TCM makes up more than a fourth of China's overall medical industry, with an export value of $US 820 million in 2005. Statistics show that China has 3,009 TCM hospitals, with over 310,000 beds, some combining Chinese and Western medicine. "About 70 percent of all township hospitals, 89 percent of urban community medical services and 40 percent of village clinics have traditional Chinese medical departments," the sources said, adding that traditional Chinese medicine plays a key role in health care in areas poor in medical resources. Nationwide, 448 standard herbal medicine planting bases have been built, which have helped nearly a million farmers out of poverty by growing and selling herbal medicines.

Beijing's TCM specialists may get to practise in Singapore
The Straits Times (Singapore), 12 September 2006

Singapore and China may discuss allowing mainland TCM specialists to practise in Singapore hospitals during upcoming talks on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Singapore is keen to partner Chinese hospitals that have successfully combined Western medicine and TCM, said Singapore Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan. Such integrated treatments could make the city state more attractive as a medical hub for patients around the region, he said. Mr Lee yesterday visited Shanghai's Shuguang Hospital, a leading practitioner of integrated medicine. Shuguang Hospital employs the same tests and X-rays as Western-style hospitals, but its doctors also prescribe TCM for certain diseases or while patients are in recovery. Mr Lee described this as "a good working model" for Singapore hospitals. TCM physicians are currently barred from mainstream practice in Singapore hospitals, although a few hospitals have introduced separate TCM clinics on their site.

German farmers growing Chinese herbs
Free Market News, (www.FreeMarketNews.com), 16 September 2006

Helped by state farm advisors, German farmers are discovering herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as cash crops to supply the alternative-treatments market in Europe. Seven TCM herbs are being tried in a corner of Bavaria German-grown herbs, say the farmers, cost more but are more reliable in quality. Thomas Burk has run one of the farms since 1992, supplying manufacturers of the Western herbal remedies valerian and echinacea. The first time he took a close look at Chinese remedies was during a farm seminar organized in 2004 by the state farm science agency. The idea came from an agency scientist, Ulrich Bomme, who heard that TCM doctors in Europe were complaining that supplies from Asia were declining in quality and were often in short supply. The varieties grown in Germany have higher proportions of the TCM active substances than most Asian products.

Brazilian TCM doctors try to thread the needle
The China Daily (Chinadaily.com.cn), 18 September 2006

Brazilian doctors specializing in TCM have come to Beijing to learn more about acupuncture, to cultivate their understanding of Chinese herbology and medical massage. "People in Brazil are less and less satisfied with the results of Western medicine and are seeking alternatives," said Dr Paulo Lacava, who enrolled in the programme to get better acquainted with the culture that developed TCM. This is the second such group of Brazilian doctors to come to China, and in response to the increased demand for TCM services in Brazil, Projecto Vamos A China will bring two to three groups every year. The Brazilians are particularly interested in the integration of TCM with Western medicine. The country's orthodox TCM practitioners diagnose patients by analyzing their pulses and examining their faces, tongues and hands. Less orthodox TCM practitioners will instead draw blood samples a uniquely Western diagnosis method and then use TCM to treat their patients according to these diagnoses, Vieira explained.

Herbal medicine "risk to surgery"
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 20 September 2006

Medical experts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have found that patients taking prescribed TCM before undergoing surgery and anaesthesia have a higher risk of complications. A study carried out between 2003 and 2004 investigated the use of herbal medicine showed patients taking prescribed Chinese herbal medicine were twice as likely to develop complications before surgery as patients who did not take herbal medicine and those who had self-medicated. The study results also showed large or prolonged doses of liquorice, rehmannia, astragalus, atractylodes and eucommia were potentially harmful. The herbs have an effect on blood pressure, potassium levels in blood and clotting time. Professor Chui urged patients to learn the names of herbs they take and inform their Chinese practitioners and doctors at hospitals or clinics about any medication taken.

Universities unite to study Chinese medicine
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 26 September 2006

Six universities in Hong Kong will, for the first time jointly launch a clinical trial using TCM on recovering stroke patients. In the two-year project, costing HK$10 million and funded by the government¡¦s Innovation and Technology Fund, about 360 patients from six public hospitals will be recruited to test the effectiveness of a special formula of Chinese herbs. A further 200 patients from two teaching hospitals will be recruited to test a special prescription for treating insomnia. Patients will continue to use the Western medicines prescribed by their doctors. Under the clinical trials, some patients will receive the herbs while others receive a placebo. The research team will provide patients with the same prescriptions which are mild enough to suit the health conditions of most.

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