Home > Current Events > Year 2007 June
A review of stories making the headlines.

Beijing weighs up lifting tiger ban
South China Morning Post, 6 June 2007

Beijing remains cautious and is soliciting opinions about lifting the ban on using bones from artificially bred tigers in TCM, the State Forestry Administration said. Administration spokesman Cao Qingyao said the agency was "widely collecting views" and would organise an international forum on tiger protection strategies. Trade organisations have been lobbying to lift the ban on body parts of artificially bred tigers.

Vice Premier promotes Chinese traditional medicine
People°¶s Daily (http://english.people.com.cn), 8 June 2007

Vice Premier Wu Yi recently attended a TCM promotion campaign launch in Beijing. The three-year-long campaign will involve a series of activities promoting Chinese traditional medicines in all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of China. This campaign is expected to increase the knowledge of Chinese people on traditional medicines and encourage hospitals to boost traditional medical services. The first phase of the campaign will be focused in Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning and other provinces this year. Over three million brochures on traditional medicine will be distributed during the campaign.

Health official slams TCM accusations
China Daily (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn), 15 June 2007

Wang Guoqiang, deputy Chinese health minister, hit out at accusations that TCM led to the death of actress Chen Xiaoxu, who played Lin Daiyu in the TV drama series A Dream of Red Mansions. He said the allegations targeting TCM were "immoral, exaggerated and unscientific". Chen died of terminal breast cancer last month at the age of 42. Her death stirred up criticism by He Zuoxiu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who said TCM contributed to the actress and business woman's death. Wang stated, "Numerous deaths take place in the world. How does TCM have any connections with this death?"

Cut in U.S. ginseng supply to have little impact
The China Post (www.chinapost.com.tw),17 June 2007

The possible reduction in the shipment of U.S.-grown ginseng should not have a severe impact on Taiwan because there are ample alternatives to the product. The state of Kentucky, the leading producer of ginseng in the U.S., has come under stricter scrutiny from the federal government to improve harvest and sale of ginseng or face losing the right to export the highly valuable product. People in Taiwan have the option of using dang seng (Campanumaea pilosula) grown in Jilin area of northeastern China or Korea and mix them with huang qi (Astragalus Henry), another popular Chinese herb. Australia has started growing ginseng in recent years. Several areas in Taiwan have experimented with growing ginseng over the last couple of years. The price is only one-tenth that of imported products.

Pressure grows in China to drop ban on tiger trade
The Age (Melbourne), 20 June 2007

In an abrupt turnaround, a senior Chinese wildlife official has declared that the 14-year domestic ban on trading tiger bone and other parts may be lifted. The turnaround is due to growing pressure from private tiger-farm owners and others for tiger parts that are highly valued in TCM and wine. Wang Wei, deputy director of wildlife at the State Forestry Administration, said the ban is "open for review... [it] won't be there forever, given the strong voices from tiger farmers, experts and society. It will be a waste if the resources of dead tigers are not used in traditional medicine." Mr Wang said allowing bones of captive tigers that died naturally to be traded might help conservation of wild tigers. Conservationists fear any easing of the ban would lead to a surge in demand and encourage increased poaching of wild tigers.

Only qualified and internationally-recognised traditional medicine practitioners from China will be recruited for government hospitals.
New Straits Times (Malaysia), 21 June 2007

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad stated that medical students' training in Malaysia comprised 30 to 40 percent modern medicine and 60 to 70 percent TCM, so this part of their training was important. Discussions would be held between these imported practitioners and local doctors to obtain information on the learning process in the field in China for an exchange of technology. He said eventually, traditional and complementary medicine practitioners would combine expertise with local doctors in treating patients, especially in rehabilitation. The three hospitals for the pilot project are the Kepala Batas Hospital, Putrajaya Hospital and Sultan Ismail Hospital, Johor Baharu.

Elderly seek Chinese medicine subsidies
South China Morning Post, (Hong Kong), 25 June 2007

The elderly and social workers are calling on the Hong Kong government to subsidize TCM for the underprivileged because public clinics do not meet current demand. A Legislative Council subcommittee to review the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme has discussed the medical needs of elderly people on welfare payouts. The Hospital Authority has set up nine public Chinese medicine outpatient clinics since late 2003 and five more are planned. At least 20 percent of consultation places at these clinics are allocated to those receiving welfare; these people, who do not have to pay the HK$120 fee for a general consultation and two doses of herbal medicine.

First internationally licensed Chinese herbal patent
Chemistry World (http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/), 28 June 2007

China has licensed its first herbal compound patent to UK-based pharmaceutical company, Phytopharm who is planning global clinical trials of the compound, with the aim of developing a drug for memory and concentration. The compound, a steroidal saponin, was identified at the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences' Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine. Steroidal saponins are a group of active ingredients often derived from the plant genus Dioscorea, which includes yams. The compound is derived from Rhizoma Anemarrhenae (Zhimu), a herb frequently used in TCM. A 10-year study of the compound revealed its activity in the brains of animal models: increasing blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation and stimulating nerve cell growth, and significantly improving memory in rats.

Research sheds new light on traditional Chinese medicine
Foodweek online (www.foodweek.com.au), 26 June 2007

Bitter melon extract (Mormodica Charantia Extract), a TCM, has been tested and found to protect £]-cells and increase insulin production in new research presented by Dr Pingfan Rao, Fuzhou University, China at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc. 40th Anniversary Convention. Bitter melon extract, is an anti-diabetic herbal remedy prepared by boiling extraction of the sun-dried fruit. In TCM, herbs undergo maillard reaction during sun-drying and boiling, to extract dark colour tonics as remedies. The MRPs in bitter melon extract were found to release reducing agents and bind to the membrane of pancreatic cells and when these cells were treated with MCE prior to alloxan damage, insulin secretion increased by 160 percent compared to the untreated group.