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Jason Morris
Jason Morris

Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine, Vol. II: M...



Medicine in traditional China encompassed a range of sometimes competing health and healing practices, folk beliefs, literati theory and Confucian philosophy, herbal remedies, food, diet, exercise, medical specializations, and schools of thought.[3] In the early twentieth century, Chinese cultural and political modernizers worked to eliminate traditional practices as backward and unscientific. Traditional practitioners then selected elements of philosophy and practice and organized them into what they called "Chinese medicine" (Zhongyi).[4] In the 1950s, the Chinese government sponsored the integration of Chinese and Western medicine,[5] and in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, promoted Chinese medicine as inexpensive and popular.[6] After the opening of relations between the United States and China after 1972, there was great interest in the West for what is now called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).[7]




Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine, Vol. II: M...



TCM is said to be based on such texts as Huangdi Neijing (The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor), and Compendium of Materia Medica, a sixteenth-century encyclopedic work, and includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, gua sha, massage (tui na), bonesetter (die-da), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy. TCM is widely used in the Sinosphere. One of the basic tenets is that the body's vital energy (ch'i or qi) is circulating through channels called meridians having branches connected to bodily organs and functions.[8] The concept of vital energy is pseudoscientific. Concepts of the body and of disease used in TCM reflect its ancient origins and its emphasis on dynamic processes over material structure, similar to the humoral theory of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.[9]


Historians of science have developed the study of medicine in traditional China into a field with its own scholarly associations, journals, graduate programs, and debates with each other.[40] Many distinguish "medicine in traditional China" from the recent Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which took elements from traditional texts and practices to construct a systematic body. Paul Unschuld, for instance, sees a "departure of TCM from its historical origins." [41] What is called "Traditional Chinese Medicine" and practiced today in China and the West is not thousands of years old, but recently constructed using selected traditional terms, some of which have been taken out of context, some badly misunderstood. He has criticized Chinese and Western popular books for selective use of evidence, choosing only those works or parts of historical works that seem to lead to modern medicine, ignoring those elements that do not now seem to be effective.[42]


As of 2007[update] there were not enough good-quality trials of herbal therapies to allow their effectiveness to be determined.[43] A high percentage of relevant studies on traditional Chinese medicine are in Chinese databases. Fifty percent of systematic reviews on TCM did not search Chinese databases, which could lead to a bias in the results.[161] Many systematic reviews of TCM interventions published in Chinese journals are incomplete, some contained errors or were misleading.[162] The herbs recommended by traditional Chinese practitioners in the US are unregulated.[163]


From the earliest records regarding the use of compounds to today, the toxicity of certain substances has been described in all Chinese materiae medicae.[26] Since TCM has become more popular in the Western world, there are increasing concerns about the potential toxicity of many traditional Chinese plants, animal parts and minerals.[52] Traditional Chinese herbal remedies are conveniently available from grocery stores in most Chinese neighborhoods; some of these items may contain toxic ingredients, are imported into the U.S. illegally, and are associated with claims of therapeutic benefit without evidence.[191] For most compounds, efficacy and toxicity testing are based on traditional knowledge rather than laboratory analysis.[52] The toxicity in some cases could be confirmed by modern research (i.e., in scorpion); in some cases it could not (i.e., in Curculigo).[26] Traditional herbal medicines can contain extremely toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and naturally occurring toxins, which can cause illness, exacerbate pre-existing poor health or result in death.[192] Botanical misidentification of plants can cause toxic reactions in humans.[193] The description of some plants used in TCM has changed, leading to unintended poisoning by using the wrong plants.[193] A concern is also contaminated herbal medicines with microorganisms and fungal toxins, including aflatoxin.[193] Traditional herbal medicines are sometimes contaminated with toxic heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium, which inflict serious health risks to consumers.[194] Also, adulteration of some herbal medicine preparations with conventional drugs which may cause serious adverse effects, such as corticosteroids, phenylbutazone, phenytoin, and glibenclamide, has been reported.[193][195]


The dried root of plant Danshen is a popular herbal medicine in China and Japan, used alone or in combination with other herbs [44, 45]. It was first recorded in the Shennong's Classic Materia Medica, Shennong Bencao Jing, which is the oldest medicine monograph in China. One of the most widely used traditional medicines, Danshen, is used in the treatment of coronary heart disease [46], cerebrovascular disease [47], Alzheimer's disease [48], Parkinson's disease [49], renal deficiency [50], liver cirrhosis [51], cancer [52], and bone loss [53]. The composition of Danshen has been analyzed and found to contain 49 diterpenoid quinones, 36 hydrophilic phenolic acids, and 23 essential oil constituents. The diterpenoid quinones and hydrophilic phenolic acids are the principal bioactive components in Danshen [54].


Some psychological and/or physical approaches used in traditional Chinese medicine practices, such as acupuncture and tai chi, may help improve quality of life and certain pain conditions. Studies of Chinese herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine for a range of medical conditions have had mixed results.


The use of herbal therapies for treatment and management of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is increasing. Plants contain a bounty of phytochemicals that have proven to be protective by reducing the risk of various ailments and diseases. Indeed, accumulating literature provides the scientific evidence and hence reason d'etre for the application of herbal therapy in relation to CVDs. Slowly, but absolutely, herbal remedies are being entrenched into evidence-based medical practice. This is partly due to the supporting clinical trials and epidemiological studies. The rationale for this expanding interest and use of plant based treatments being that a significant proportion of hypertensive patients do not respond to Modern therapeutic medication. Other elements to this equation are the cost of medication, side-effects, accessibility, and availability of drugs. Therefore, we believe it is pertinent to review the literature on the beneficial effects of herbs and their isolated compounds as medication for treatment of hypertension, a prevalent risk factor for CVDs. Our search utilized the PubMed and ScienceDirect databases, and the criterion for inclusion was based on the following keywords and phrases: hypertension, high blood pressure, herbal medicine, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), nitric oxide, vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation, hydrogen sulfide, nuclear factor kappa-B, oxidative stress, and epigenetics/epigenomics. Each of the aforementioned keywords was co-joined with herb in question, and where possible with its constituent molecule(s). In this first of a two-part review, we provide a brief introduction of hypertension, followed by a discussion of the molecular and cellular mechanisms. We then present and discuss the plants that are most commonly used in the treatment and management of hypertension.


Herbal medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion, and massage are the three major constituent parts of traditional Chinese medicine. Although acupuncture is well known in many Western countries, Chinese herbal medicine, the most important part of traditional Chinese medicine, is less well known in the West. This article gives a brief introduction to the written history, theory, and teaching of Chinese herbal medicine in China. It also describes modern scientific research into and the quality control of Chinese herbal medicines in China. Some examples of how new drugs derived from Chinese herbs have been developed on the basis of traditional therapeutic experience are presented. Finally, the situation of Chinese herbal medicine in the West is discussed.


The introduction to the book traces the historical evolution of the formulas, and provides practical pointers for their preparation and use. Detailed timelines depict the key events, authors, and texts in the 2,000-year history of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, placing the contents of this book in historical context.


TCM is a system of healing that originated thousands of years ago. It has evolved into a well-developed, coherent system of medicine that uses several modalities to treat and prevent illness. The most commonly employed therapeutic methods in TCM include acupuncture/moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, diet therapy, mind/body exercises (Qigong and Tai Chi), and Tui Na (Chinese massage).3


In China, traditional Chinese herbal medicine is a prevalent treatment for uterine fibroids. Guizhi Fuling Formula is one such common remedy. The formula was first described in Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet (Jingui Yaolue) by a famous Chinese doctor Zhang Zhongjing of the Han Dynasty (third century A.D.). Guizhi Fuling Formula consists of five herbs: Ramulus Cinnamomi, Poria, Semen Persicae, Radix Paeoniae Rubra or Radix Paeoniae Alba, and Cortex Moutan[8]. Its traditional effects (actions) are invigorating blood, dissolving stasis, and resolving masses [9]. Common preparations of the formula are pills, capsules, tablets, and decoctions. A bibliometrics study of modern literature analysing the names of diseases that are treated by Guizhi Fuling pills revealed that the highest frequency of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diseases was abdominal mass (zheng jia) and the highest frequency of western medicine diseases was uterine fibroids [10]. 041b061a72


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