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

Tree bark component helps protect neurons
Chemical and Engineering News (http://pubs.acs.org/cen), 4 October 2007

A derivative of a traditional Chinese cancer treatment obtained from tree bark prevents neuronal cell death, according to a new study by researchers at Emory University School of Medicine. The compound, gambogic amide, could become a treatment for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Gambogic amide, derived from resin of the Garcinia hanburryi tree, provides protection by mimicking the behavior of nerve growth factor (NGF). When NGF docks to a receptor called TrkA, it causes the receptor to dimerize (related to polymerization), thereby triggering a cascade of cell-signaling events that prevent neuronal cell death. Gambogic amide is able to do many of the things that NGF does. In addition, gambogic amide triggers the growth of neurites, which are projections from the developing neuron's cell body.

Over 20% of Chinese medicine contains chemicals
The China Post (http://www.chinapost.com.tw), 10 October 2007

The Taiwan Consumers' Foundation (TCF) has issued a consumer alert on TCM after lab results identified Western pharmaceutical ingredients in ten out of 47 traditional herbal products surveyed. Of the ten Chinese medicines containing fabricated agents, one was prescribed by a Chinese medical clinic. The practice of mixing Western medicine with Chinese medicine is forbidden under Taiwan's Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and is liable to heavy fines and imprisonment. Chinese medicines are made with natural ingredients and have a natural smell whereas medicine mixed with Western ingredients has a "pungent and chemical smell," according to the association. Consumers should not purchase TCMs from overseas due to different medical regulations, but from recommended practitioners locally.

Doctors to get a grounding in herbal remedies
The Sydney Morning Herald(http://www.smh.com.au), 13 October 2007

The University of Sydney's medical school will start offering classes in herbal medicine and TCM from 2008 after an overhaul of the program recommended that future doctors learn how to manage patients who will be taking complementary therapies. The dean of the faculty, Bruce Robinson, said the aim was not to fully train them to administer the therapies, but to appreciate how they might fit it into a patient's general health plan. Many patients do not tell their doctors they are engaged in complementary therapies, either because they fear derision or because it does not occur to them, yet sometimes those remedies react with the treatment doctors prescribe. The University of Sydney plans to open a joint medical research institute between its medical and pharmacy faculties and China's Sun Yat-Sen University to undertake analysis of herbal medicines and alternative therapies.

Acupuncture diminishes acute postop pain
American Society of Anesthesiologists (http://www.newswise.com), 15 October 2007

Researchers in anesthesiology at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, reviewed 15 research studies pertaining to the effectiveness of acupuncture to relieve postoperative pain when used in conjunction with pain medication. The data analysis of around 1166 patients revealed a significant decrease in pain among the patients receiving acupuncture. In addition, the acupuncture patients required less morphine and other pain medication, and thus reported fewer medication-related side effects, including nausea, dizziness and drowsiness. The findings were presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists 2007 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Coca-Cola sets up Chinese medicine research centre
Reuterse (www.reuters.com), 17 October 2007

The world's biggest soft drink company opened a TCM centre at the China Academy of Chinese Medial Sciences, which is affiliated to China's Ministry of Public Health in Beijing. "This is an important step in strengthening our innovation pipeline for beverages that contribute to wellbeing," said Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola's chief scientist. Coca-Cola wants to develop new products as consumers are choosing healthier alternatives to sugar-filled carbonated drinks.

Academy, WHO standardize medical terms
The China Daily (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn), 17 October 2007

The world's first document listing international standard terminologies of TCM has been jointly launched in Beijing by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. The document contains nearly 4,000 terms covering eight categories including basic theories, disease, acupuncture, and medical treatments, each in English definition and descriptions and a Chinese version, up to 90 percent of which are commonly used in modern TCM. Uniform terminology will help in education, research and international information exchanges. Considering constant updates to the rapidly developing science, the terminologies would be renewed every three to five years.

Traditional medicine centre for Singapore
Bangkok Post (www.bangkokpost.com), 19 October 2006

A 2.8-million-Singapore dollar centre to be called Bao Zhong Tang, meaning "hall of treasures," is a joint venture between SingHealth and the Shanghai Hospital Development Centre. The centre will select a team to be based in the city-state and herbs will be shipped from China. Researchers at the hospital will conduct projects to determine if TCM can help conditions that sometimes confound Western medical science in the areas of blood disorders, diabetes and cancer.

Western Cape to Benefit from provincial Government Visit to Shandong
Cape Gateway (South Africa - www.capegateway.gov.za), 31 October 2007

A delegation of the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa, headed by Premier Ebrahim Rasool, is in Shandong Province, China this month to strengthen ties between the Western Cape and Shandong. The health study will include collaboration involving tuberculosis and TCM, a visit to a Hospital in Jinan and the Shandong Provincial Hospital. It will also cover aspects such as traditional healing and support for clinics in Qingdao; a visit to the Qingdao Centre for Disease Control with specific emphasis on HIV prevention and community empowerment, which are their areas of expertise.

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