Home > Current Events > Year 2012 July
A review of stories making the headlines.

More seeking traditional treatment
Nst.com.my, 2 July 2012

Putrajaya: public response to traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) provided in government hospitals have been very encouraging, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. He said the number of patients treated in TCM units had shown a steady increase over the years. The total number of patients treated last year was 38,007, and the number was 25,050 in year 2010. There are 10 hospitals that offer an integrated medicine program that incorporates TCM into modern medicine.

Lingzhi mushroom re-classified as new fungal species
Focustaiwan.tw, 5 July 2012

The Lingzhi mushroom was found to be a new species in its genus, a team of Taiwanese and Chinese researchers announced. The findings were the result of three years of research by Wu and two Chinese colleagues, who studied wild lingzhi mushrooms in Taiwan and China. The study involved DNA profiling of the mushroom species. The species will be re-classified as Ganoderma lingzhi instead of Ganoderma lucidum, which is expected to present better information about its health benefits and medicinal properties. ¡§Based on the new findings, we might be able to determine very soon whether the lingzhi mushroom is just folk medicine or more than that,¡¨ said Su Ching-hua, former chairman of the Mycological Society of China.

Tips for drinking TCM-based beverages
People's Daily Online, 10 July 2012

In China, TCM experts believe that it is a serious abuse of medicine to add Chinese crude drugs to beverages. ¡§90% of TCM is about treating disease rather than preserving health, TCM does not equal health preservation,¡¨ said Chen Ming, a professor and Ph.D. supervisor at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Drinking TCM-based beverages every day can damage health, Chen stressed, many people like to drink herbal tea in the summer to avoid internal heat, in fact, herbal tea containing Prunella vulgaris, which can clear away liver fire, is not suitable for everyone. TCM treatment is based on syndrome differentiation, and conducted on a case-by-case basis. Currently, 87 types of herbal medicines have been approved by China to be treated as ¡§food medicines¡¨ and health care products and other 114 types or their active ingredients are allowed to be treated as materials for producing health care products.

Attack on complementary medicine ¡¥undermines safety¡¦
Theconversation.edu.au, 16 July 2012

Cutting complementary medicine courses from universities would dilute the quality of the education available and threaten safe practice but have no impact on demand for it, according to academics writing in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). Stephen Myers, a Professor of Complementary Medicine and Director of the Natural Medicine Research Unit at Southern Cross University, and coauthors warn that there is ¡§great danger for the public if complementary medicine practice is allowed to develop outside mainstream education¡¨. It would undermine ¡§safe practice and critical appraisal¡¨. Professor Myers said that complementary medicine was a broad field that could not be described with generalizations. It was important to distinguish the major professional and university-based disciplines of traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy and naturopathy from ¡§fringe practices, and the actions of rogue or unqualified practitioners¡¨.

More Japanese, Korean firms dominate TCM industry
Channelnewsasia.com, 17 July 2012

China is the birthplace of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). But Chinese firms are quickly losing their advantage, as the industry faces huge challenges to reform. Already, 90% of the global TCM market is dominated by Japanese and Korean companies. And foreign brands are becoming more popular, even on the mainland. For example, Singapore-listed firm Eu Yan Sang has 16 outlets on the mainland, 12 of which opened in the last year, and sales have been good, even though its products cost about 20% more. The company says some local residents prefer to buy established overseas brands because of the food scares in China. The influx of international brands is only one challenge faced by the industry in China. The industry could be worth a lot more if it can move beyond supplying raw materials. For instance, China produces 70% of the world's ginseng, but it's total output value is less than a third of South Korea's, which imports Chinese ginseng, then processes, packages and sells them, sometimes back to China at far higher prices.

Document regulating medical workers issued
China Daily, 19 July 2012

Medical workers are prohibited from receiving gifts in any form from patients or kickbacks from companies, said an official document regulating medics' practices. The Ministry of Health, the State Food and Drug Administration and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued the document containing 60 items. Its provisions apply to all medical workers on the mainland, including related administrative staff in health institutions. Zhao Minggang, deputy director of the ministry's department of medical administration said that authorities of health institutions are in charge of enforcing the document, and the document will play a role when it comes to evaluating medics and deciding the payroll. However, he admitted that the document could not define punishments other than administrative measures, which might undermine its authority. Zhao also revealed that the ministry is considering introducing mandatory liability insurance on the mainland.

11 Chinese medical schools to be accredited
Thestar.com.my, 23 July 2012

KUCHING: Malaysian students studying at 11 medical schools in China are one step closer to getting full recognition from the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC). It was revealed that the Federal Cabinet had given the nod for MMC to carry out the full accreditation process for these medical schools as soon as possible. These 11 institutions are chosen because they are considered the top medical schools in China. SUPP president Datuk Seri Peter Chin told parents of some of the affected medical graduates that he would bring the matter up to the Federal Cabinet again to set the date on how soon the accreditation process could begin.

Ancient Chinese medicine may halt the progress of cancer
Medicaldaily.com, 25 July 2012

Researchers have found that a component of a plant used in ancient Chinese medicine can stop the progress of melanoma and other types of cancers. Researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that the protein from the seeds of Maackia amurensis, MASL, interacts with a receptor present in many types of cancer cells. The receptor called podoplanin (PDPN) allows cancer cells spread to other organs. ¡§Cells, even when they are cancerous, tend to stay put. PDPN allows tumor cells to break out of their microenvironment, invade new areas and metastasize. Our laboratory research shows that MASL not only significantly reduces cell migration, it also inhibits cancer cell growth," said Gary Goldberg, lead author of the study. MASL can fight breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers that are resistant to currently available treatments.

China cracks down on bogus TCM materials
China Daily, 27 July 2012

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) of China has initiated a national crackdown on substandard or fake materials used in TCM production. Drug producers should ensure that their raw materials come from reliable and stable sources and enhance their tests for heavy metals, pesticide residue and aflatoxin in order to ensure drug safety, according to a statement. The SFDA instructed its local branches to carry out investigations on key areas, including the use of weight increments or coloring additives, contaminated or extractive materials and the improper disposal of waste material. The campaign will also cover drug distributors and medical institutions using TCM. The SFDA cited insufficient market supplies of TCM as partly to blame for the bogus products.

China loses 90 pct of TCM talents in 30 years
People's Daily Online, 27 July 2012

The predicament of TCM is an indisputable fact in China, as every year the growth rate of TCM doctors is slower than that of Western medicine. Furthermore, the number of famous doctors has sharply reduced to less than 500. TCM experts pointed out that TCM courses are ignored and squeezed in the colleges, the ratio between TCM and Western medicine curricula has fallen to 6 to 4 from the original 8 to 2. In addition, TCM graduate students are trained in a Western way, dividing into ¡§academic degree¡¨ and ¡§professional degree¡¨. ¡§TCM talents cannot be well developed if teaching is separated from clinical medicine,¡¨ said Lu Yubo, president of Guangdong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The current educational system puts the traditional TCM educational method in an awkward situation, in which teachers are experienced but cannot find a way out.

Alternative medicine blighted by illegal practitioners in UAE
Gulfnews.com, 28 July 2012

Dubai: Despite regulatory efforts by the health authorities, unlicensed traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) practitioners in the UAE continue to attract residents, increasing public health risks. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Dubai Healthcare Authority, TCAM includes ayurveda, homoeopathy, Chinese medicine, Unani medicine and naturopathy among others. The authorities stipulate that no person or governmental agency can operate a TCAM facility or provide services without first obtaining a licence. The MOH is facing issues regarding certain unlicensed TCAM practitioners offering medical massage, cupping, herbal products, and operating out of shops and homes. Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for medical practice and licensing, told that though TCAM practitioners have to pass the ministry¡¦s TCAM exam to practice in the UAE, TCAM services are being practised outside the purview of the health authorities¡¦ regulations.

Research shows Chinese methods work in fighting obesity?
Nydailynews.com, 31 July 2012

A Hong Kong Hospital Authority-commissioned study has apparently found that traditional Chinese medicine and medicinal therapies are not only as effective in treating obesity as their Western equivalents, in some cases they even have few side effects. The Chinese University poured through around 100 previous studies on Chinese weight-loss treatments that were designed not to help people who simply wanted to become slimmer, but for those who wanted to reduce the health risks. The studies found that the herbs most commonly and successfully used in such treatments included Baical skullcap root and hawthorn fruit. The most successful acupressure points used were those in the ear aimed at the spleen and the stomach, and the points in the leg known as San yin jiao and Zu san li. The researchers claimed that treatments can result in weight loss of around 5.8 kilograms if the herbs are used along with acupuncture, both over a period of up to four months. ¡§A Western approach was used to show Western scientists that Chinese medicine methods work,¡¨ Chinese University's assistant dean of medicine, Professor Juliana Chan Chung-ngor, told.

Cardiovascular protection of magnolol: cell-type specificity and dose-related effects
7th Space Interactive, 31 July 2012

Magnolia officinalis has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Magnolol, an active component isolated from the herb, is known to be a cardiovascular protector since 1994. The multiplex mechanism of magnolol on cardiovascular protection depends on cell types and dosages. Magnolol under low and moderate dosage possesses the ability to protect heart from ischemic/reperfusion injury, reduce atherosclerotic change, protect endothelial cell against apoptosis, inhibit neutrophil-endothelial adhesion. The moderate to high concentration of magnolol mainly acts on smooth muscle cells and platelets. Oral intake of magnolol to reach the therapeutic level for cardiovascular protection is applicable, thus makes magnolol an agent of great potential for preventing cardiovascular diseases in high-risk patients.

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