Home > Current Events > Year 2008 June
A review of stories making the headlines.
Food therapy for quake victims
CCTV.com, 29 May 2008

For those coping with the devastating earthquake in Sichuan, food is used as a nourishing means that aids in medical treatment. Xu Xuemeng, orthopaedic surgeon of the 2nd Guangdong Hospital of TCM, said, "We brew soup everyday. We use cinnabar and pig heart to make a soothing and calming soup for those especially weak. Dried longan pulp is a good option for soup as well." A number of other patients at the hospital are receiving a comprehensive treatment of TCM, acupuncture, food and psychological help. Their symptoms of insomnia and sweat palpitations are improving each day with this food regime.

Malaria drug to be made from "synthetic biology" organism
The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk), 4 June 2008

A discussion meeting at the Royal Society, London, has been told that a University of California, Berkeley, team led by Prof. Jay Keasling, is close to making the first synthetic biology drug that can help fight malaria with the backing of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis. This will be based on the drug artemisinin, a compound extracted from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) which has been used for over 1,500 years in Chinese medicine, especially as the herbal remedy qinghaosu, usually drunk as a tea. Earlier, in 2006, the research team had announced it had succeeded in engineering yeast, which was likened to a basic "chassis", to make artemisinic acid, one chemical alteration away from artemisinin. This is likely to make malaria drugs much cheaper to produce and purchase by developing countries where this disease is endemic.

SFDA exposes fake Chinese medicine websites
Chinatech News(http://www.chinatechnews.com), 4 June 2008

China's State Food and Drug Administration have issued a "Warning Announcement Regarding Buying Medicines Online", reminding people about not buying medicines from websites that have not been approved by the drug supervision department. Consumers can log onto the SFDA website to read the report called "Cautions on Safe Online Drug Purchase" where they can find a list of websites that reportedly are involving in unlawful drug sales. By the end of 2007, China had approved a total of 1,257 websites to provide online medicine services and 14 websites to deal with online drug sales. Of those, only seven websites were allowed to sell non-prescription medicines to consumers.

Tiger sanctuaries selling bone for Chinese medicine against international law
The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk), 7 June 2008

Investigators from the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency found tiger bone wine advertised for sale at the Qinhuangdao wildlife rescue centre, near the beach resort of Beidaihe in Hebei Province and at the Badaling safari park, on the outskirts of Beijing investigators were offered "deluxe" gift packs of tiger bone wine for US $286.00 (óG143). Tiger-bone wine is claimed to help cure conditions including arthritis and rheumatism, is advertised openly and sold at the parks. International trade in tiger body parts and derivatives is banned under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Domestic trade is prohibited under national law and reinforced by a special State Council order in 1993. The professional TCM community says that "culturally acceptable substitutes", such as the common mole rat, have been used since tiger bone was removed from the official list of ingredients in 1993.

Acupuncture appears to help lift the mood of severely depressed people, a study of Australians suggests.
AAP (http://www.stuff.co.nz/), 12 June 2008

New research in Sydney has found a marked improvement in a group of people with medicated depression who were treated with acupuncture for two months. The study showed people with the severest depression benefited the most. "What we've managed to show is that acupuncture can be a powerful aid to use alongside anti-depressantsíK," said Kirk Wilson, a researcher at the College of TCM at the University of Technology Sydney. The researchers enlisted a group of about 40 people with severe depression, and allocated half to get 12 acupuncture treatments over eight weeks. All were taking standard antidepressants. Interim results show the average depression score among the group dropped from 30 pre-treatment, a severe rating, to 15 post-treatment, a mild rating. Those in the non-treatment group remained static on 30. Western medical practitioners remain sceptical, saying the study was limited in its format and there was no proof the treatment continued to work over time.

U.S., Chinese scientists to collaborate on TCM
Chiropractic Economics (http://www.chiroeco.com), 19 June 2008

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese Vice Minister of Health Wang Guoqiang to aid collaboration between scientists in both countries in research relating to the integration of Western medicine and TCM. The signing marked the opening of a two-day TCM research roundtable at the National Institutes of Health. The roundtable featured scientific presentations by researchers from China and the United States. Topics included the synthesis of Western medicine and TCM, as well as criteria for evaluating traditional Chinese medicine practices.

Chinese ingredient said to help the heart
The New York Times (www.nytimes.com), 24 June 2008

Chinese red yeast rice has been found to reduce the risk of repeat heart attacks in people who have already had one. A Chinese study, published on June 15 in The American Journal of Cardiology, tested 4,870 men and women who had had heart attacks within five years. They were randomly assigned to take 600 milligrams a day of yeast rice extract or a placebo. Over five years, those who took the extract reduced their relative risk of a coronary event by 45 percent. The risk of death from cardiovascular disease and from all causes in the extract group was about one-third that of the placebo group. The rice is used as a food preservative, a spice and an ingredient in rice wine. Dr. David Capuzzi, the senior author of the article and a professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in the USA, emphasized that the finding did not apply to the red yeast extract sold in health food stores, but a "carefully constituted compound" quite different from over-the-counter forms.

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