Home > Current Events > Year 2011 April
A review of stories making the headlines.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine is an effective skin whitening cream
News Medical, 30 March 2011

Scientists reported discovery of the active ingredients in an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for skin whitening, changing skin color to a lighter shade. The ingredients are poised for clinical trials as a safer, more effective alternative to skin whitening creams and lotions they said. The evergreen bush, Cinnamomum subavenium, is a close relative of the trees whose inner bark is the source of cinnamon. The scientists isolated two chemicals from the plant that have the ability to block tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin. Inhibiting tyrosinase is one of the major strategies for skin-whitening.

TCM exports face obstacles in Russia ¡V report
Interfax China, 6 April 2011

China's exports of finished traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) to Russia continued to decline in 2010, according to a report by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products. TCM exports to Russia fell by 11.5% on an annual basis last year to $1.93 million, down from $2.18 million in 2009 and $2.72 million in 2008. The products are mostly registered as nutritional supplements rather than medicines in Russia due to the complex approval process for drugs, making marketing more difficult. TCM practitioners and patients in Russia favor procedures like acupuncture and moxibustion rather than finished medicines, the report said.

Herbal medicine found with high sulphur levels
SCMP, 6 April 2011

Traditional Chinese medicines sold at a well known mainland herbal market contained high levels of sulphur dioxide, posing health risks, state media reported. A production procedure adopted in the northwestern province of Gansu steamed and smoked common Chinese medication with industrial sulphur to prolong its shelf life, the report said. It has been an ancient practice to process Chinese medicines with a small amount of sulphur, however nowadays the farmers and dealers added too much, both to extend shelf life and to improve the look of the herbs, and was banned by the State Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Bian Zhaoxiang, professor of Hong Kong Baptist University's school of Chinese medicine, said the discovery was unlikely to be a health concern for Hong Kong's consumers as medicines supplied to the city were of a higher quality.

Calls for wider govt recognition of traditional Chinese medicines
The Jakarta Globe, 6 April 2011

The lack of both trained practitioners and government recognition is throttling the growth of traditional Chinese medicine amid a boom in demand, said Rachmat, a member of the Indonesian Naturopath Association (IKNI). He added that the government was also more focused on cultivating its own traditional therapies. "We know the government is now researching jamu (herbal drinks), which is good because Indonesia has a rich variety of medicinal plants, but traditional Chinese medicine is different from jamu." The Health Ministry last year set up a Medicinal Plant and Traditional Medicine Research and Development Center in order to study herbal remedies.

Henan launches grassroots doctor training program
Interfax China, 8 April 2011

Health authorities in Henan Province will fully fund postgraduate training for 110 medical students who will afterwards be assigned to grassroots medical institutions. Training will take place at five leading medical colleges in the province and last for two to three years. It will focus on clinical medicine, preventive medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The program comes as part of a project Henan launched in 2009 to train medical staff for grassroots medical institutions. It is the first time the province has given funding for postgraduate medical training.

Medical schools embrace alternative medicine
US News, 12 April 2011

Nearly 40% American adults swear by some form of complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM¡Xfrom nutrition and mental relaxation to acupuncture, magnet therapy, and foreign healing systems like traditional Chinese medicine and Indian ayurveda, a growing number of medical schools, too, are supplementing medication with meditation. Whether or not students who learn about alternative approaches ever incorporate herbs or acupuncture in their practices, believers say, they stand to gain from viewing medicine in a more holistic way.

TCM to be outlawed in European Union
China Daily, 14 April 2011

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal treatments will be outlawed in European Union (EU) countries starting in May, which is likely to cost the industry $500 million (S$628.25 million) a year and put about 100,000 practitioners out of work. Under the EU legislation, named the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, all traditional herbal medicines that have not received official approval will be pulled off store shelves. So far, none of the TCM products sold within the EU have been approved. The European market consumes about one fourth of the total TCM exports from China, according to statistics from China's State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Herbal medicine index launched
Global Times, 17 April 2011

China's first herbal medicine index was launched in Chengdu by the Ministry of Commerce, and is designed to monitor market prices of herbal medicines and avoid sharp price fluctuations. The index, composed of price index and purchase management index, shows the market prices, price changes and change rates of 1,275 medicinal plants. "High volatility of Chinese herbal medicine prices is mainly attributed to the weak monitoring of transaction information, so the producers and sellers cannot get timely and accurate information of market supply and demand," said Zhu Xiaoliang, deputy director of the ministry's market operations department.

Chinese doctors treat 260 mln patients by 2009 in foreign aid: white paper
English.peopledaily.com, 21 April 2011

China had sent over 21,000 medical workers to other countries and they had treated 260 million patients by the end of 2009, says a white paper on China's foreign aid released. The teams usually work in underdeveloped areas where conditions are harsh and people lack medical services and medicines. They have cured many diseases with acupuncture and moxibustion, medical massage and integrated use of traditional Chinese and Western medicines. In 2009, 60 Chinese medical teams composed of 1,324 members provided medical services at 130 medical institutions in 57 developing countries, according to the white paper.

Acupuncture may help in stroke rehabilitation: study
Focus Taiwan, 21 April 2011

Acupuncture stimulation could help the blood circulation in patients who have suffered strokes, according to a study conducted by a team of Taiwanese doctors. The study, published in the March edition of Microvascular Research, documented the therapeutic effects of acupuncture on 18 Taiwanese patients who had suffered strokes. The study was based on a trial launched by the Department of Health to combine oriental and western therapy. Patients in the trial can ask their doctors to refer them to Chinese medicine.

China reports 690,000 cases of adverse drug reactions in 2010
English xinhuanet.com, 25 April 2011

China's National Center for ADR (adverse drug reaction) Monitoring received 692,904 reports of adverse reaction cases in 2010, 8.4% more than that of 2009, according to a statement by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). The statement indicated that China's major problems with drug safety mainly concern anti-infection drugs and traditional Chinese medicine treatments, which, the SFDA said, remain a major target for medical safety supervision in the future.

Compiled By:
Rose Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.
Tweety Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.