Home > Current Events > Year 2008 May
A review of stories making the headlines.
Large fine for selling "natural" viagra
Manukau Courier (http://www.stuff.co.nz), 13 May 2008

An Auckland TCM company has been fined for selling "natural viagra" as well as other undeclared prescription medicines. Directors David Wang and Helen Zhang and their company, South Auckland Traditional Chinese Medical, were fined over $45,000 in Manukau District Court last month. They had pleaded guilty last September to various charges under the Medicines Act. Several unapproved medicines were found, including products containing undeclared prescription medicines tadalafil, sildenafil and sibutramine.

Chinese club moss may help Alzheimer's disease
Reuters(www.reuters.com), 15 May 2008

An extract from Chinese club moss (Huperzia serrata) shows promise as a treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease according to Wu Hongmei and colleagues of Sichuan University who performed an all-language multiple-study review of multiple trials conducted in China. To gain a better understanding of the effects of this extract, Huperzine A in Alzheimer's disease, the researchers analyzed six randomized controlled trials that assessed the efficacy and safety of Huperzine A in a total of 454 patients with Alzheimer's disease. The data suggests that compared with placebo or usual care, Huperzine A may improve measures of thinking and memory, behavior disturbances, and Alzheimer's disease patients' performance of daily functions. However, as the trials reviewed had some methodological problems, further research is warranted.

Tropical mushroom extract fights cancer
Natural News (http://www.naturalnews.com), 16 May 2008

It has been reported in the British Journal of Cancer that an extract of the mushroom Phellinus linteus (Mesima), which has long been used in TCM, has been found to halt the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro. A team led by Dr. Daniel Sliva of the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis found evidence that the extract augments the action of an enzyme known as AKT, which controls cell and blood vessel growth vital to the survival of cancer cells. The study involved observing breast cancer cells exhibiting different levels of invasiveness as they interacted with different concentrations of the extract. The extract was found to suppress growth of the cells under all conditions. Greater concentrations of extract for longer periods of time yielded the best results, and less invasive cells were more easily suppressed.

Bitter orange SRMs: Tools for product analysis/quality
Medical News Today (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com), 19 May 2008

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States have developed Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) for bitter orange, long used in folk medicine and now often used in herbal weight-loss products. Researchers can use the new materials to develop and test analytical methods for compounds in bitter orange, or as control materials for quality assurance of their measurements. The NIST samples do not offer scientific evidence to address the use of bitter orange for health purposes. Also known as Seville orange, sour orange, and zhi shi, bitter orange has been used in TCM for nausea, indigestion and constipation. It can also be applied to the skin for fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete's foot.

The new bitter orange reference materials include SRM 3258 (ground fruit), SRM 3259 (extract) and SRM 3260 (solid oral dosage form). In addition the three SRMs are packaged together as SRM 3261. The SRM materials for analysis and measurement come with certified concentration values for synephrine, octopamine, tyramine, N-methylytramine, hordenine, total alkaloids and caffeine.

New pharmacological effect of Jianpi Huoxue Decoction
World Journal of Gastroenterology (www.chinaview.cn), 20 May 2008

It has been found that Jianpi Huoxue decoction (JHD) reduced the cytokine expression induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and inhibited some targets in LPS-activated Kupffer cell signal pathway. This may provide new insight in how the decoction works on alcoholic liver injury. This study was performed by a team led by Professor Hu of the Institute of Liver Diseases, Shuguang Hospital, affiliated with the Shanghai University of TCM has been published a research article to be published on 28 March, 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. This study confirmed one of the possible mechanisms of JHD on alcoholic liver injury, that it inhibits some targets in LPS-activated Kupffer cell signal pathway, such as the specific molecular marker of macrophage, CD68, phosphorylated inhibit- kappaB (p-I kappaB) protein expression, the endotoxin receptor and toll-like receptor (TLR2) mRNA expression.

Gum with bark to take bite out of bad breath
Reuters (http://uk.reuters.com), 20 May 2008

Chewing gum maker Wrigleys are going to add Magnolia bark extract, a TCM to their Eclipse gum and mints. The hope is to not simply mask bad breath, but to kill odour-causing bacteria. Company scientists found that magnolia bark extract on cultures of three types of oral micro-organisms and found that it killed 99.9 percent of the micro-organisms within five minutes. In a study of nine volunteers who chewed mints after lunch, they killed off more than 61 percent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes. Gum with the extract took a bit longer to kill oral bacteria. The extract also helped kill a group of bacteria that causes tooth decay. Wrigley's tree-bark gum and mints will be on U.S. store shelves later in 2008.

New certification scheme for TCM
The Age (http://news.theage.com.au), 24 May 2008

A new certification scheme adopted by the Australian Government will guarantee that products used or sold do not contain certain specified ingredients or endangered animals. The scheme was developed jointly by the Australian government and the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association. TCM professionals can use an accreditation logo on their premises, website or any printed material.

State investigating discovery of bear paws in Riverside, California
The Press-Enterprise (http://www.pe.com), 27 May 2008

State fish and game wardens are investigating whether a bear whose paws were found several weeks ago in a plastic bag on the front steps of a Riverside, California home was illegally killed. The authorities are still unsure whether the hunter had a legal bear hunting license. A person could have killed the bear legally with a permit during bear hunting season, but selling bear paws is a crime. This incident has led the Humane Society of the United States to offer a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, if it's determined the bear was illegally killed. The case comes at a time when attention to bear poaching is growing, specifically for bears killed to collect the bile from their gall bladders, an ingredient found in traditional Asian medicine. Recent undercover investigations by a wildlife group found bear products at TCM shops across the United States. Some wildlife groups and experts believe more California bears are being killed illegally as their numbers increases.

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