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ORIENTAL HERBAL MEDICINE FOR MENOPAUSE
A Japanese study compared the use of traditional Kampo herbal formulas and HRT, in two groups of women suffering menopausal symptoms. In the 18 patients in the Kampo group, treatment was able to alleviate the whole range of symptoms, whilst in the 16 women in the HRT group, symptoms such as cold limbs, sleeping disorders, shoulder stiffness/lumbago, and fatigue, were unaffected. In addition, the serum level of estradiol in postmenopausal women was raised by the combined use of two Kampo formulas. (Gynecol Obstet Invest 2004;57:144-148).
GINSENG PREVENTS FLU
Older nursing home residents, 90% of whom had received the current flu vaccine, who received an extract of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) in the form of the proprietary product Cold-FX, were 86% less likely to contract influenza than those who receive a placebo. (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol. 52, January 2004, pp. 13-19).
DAOIST MEDICINE CLINIC SET UP IN BEIJING
Beijing’s first Daoist clinic has been established in the White Cloud Temple, the only extant Daoist temple in the Chinese capital. Three Daoists and ten Chinese herbalists will treat patients with traditional Chinese herbal medicines, Daoist regimens and acupuncture. On the first and fifteenth days in each Chinese lunar month, poor people will enjoy preferential treatments in the clinic. The clinic includes internal medicine, dermatological and needle therapy departments. Daoist regimens are deeply related with traditional Chinese medicine, and according to Li Yulin, a Daoist with the White Cloud Temple, there is an old saying: “nine out of ten Daoists are doctors”.
CHINESE DOCTOR’S FAST BEATS BLAINE
Chen Jianmin, a 50-year-old second generation Chinese doctor, has completed a 49-day fast in a glass box, beating David Blaine’s record by 5 days. Chen, who practiced Tai Chi during his fast, said that his feat would “attest to the regimen of traditional Chinese medical science”. Chen practiced the art of “pigushengong” or “the magic of fasting”, as documented in ancient Chinese medical literature.
TAI CHI AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
South Korean research has shown that (Sun-style) tai chi is effective in alleviating several symptoms of osteoarthritis.43 middle-aged women who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis were randomized to participate in 20-minute tai chi sessions at least 3 times a week for a 12-week period, or to serve as controls. At the end of the study, the women in the tai chi group reported significantly less pain and stiffness in their joints and improved overall physical functioning. No changes were observed in the control group. Women in the tai chi group also showed significant improvement in balance and abdominal muscle strength. (J Rheumatol 2003;30:2039-44).
MORE ON TAI CHI
A systematic review of 47 studies published in English and Chinese has shown that tai chi benefits balance, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory function, flexibility, the immune system, symptoms of arthritis, muscular strength and psychological well being. Its effect on improving balance is demonstrated in studies showing that it can reduce falls in the elderly – a common, distressing and expensive form of accident. (Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:493-501). In a separate study, it was found that the practice of soo bahk do (SBD, a Korean martial art similar to karate) significantly raised the fitness levels of middle aged practitioners compared to sedentary controls. The SBD practitioners (who had practiced one hour at least twice a week for 3 years) had 18.9% body fat (compared to 30.8% in the control group), achieved 22.3 cm in the sit and reach flexibility test (compared to 10.4cm), could do 47 push ups in 1 minute (compared to 18.6), and do 66.1 sit ups (compared to 37.3). Aerobic capacity was 41.0 ml/kg/min (compared to 31.1). (Br. J. Sports Med. Apr 2004; 38: 143 – 147).
SOYA & PROSTATE CANCER
A molecule produced in the intestines when soya is digested can curtail the action of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), according to US research. Unlike pharmaceuticals which block the production of DHT and have been found to have side effects, the molecule, ‘equol’, simply prevents DHT from functioning in the body. DHT has been implicated in the development of benign prostatic hypertrophy, prostate cancer and male pattern baldness, and the authors of the research correlate their findings with the observation that Japanese men, who consume a lot of soya products, have low rates of prostate cancer. (Biol Reprod 2004 70: 1188-1195).
EJACULATION & PROSTATE CANCER
A high rate of ejaculation appears to be linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, according to data extracted from the Health Professional Follow-up study which began in 1992. This study of nearly 30,000 US men aged 46 to 81 years at the beginning of the study, took information on numerous aspects of lifestyle, including ejaculation frequency, with follow-up questionnaires every two years. The men were asked to report the average number of monthly ejaculations during their 20’s and 40’s and during the year before the study began. The first finding was that more frequent ejaculation was not linked to increased risk of prostate cancer, and the second was that men with the highest rate of ejaculation (21 or more per month during their 20s) appeared to be at a reduced risk. The study does not appear to consider whether ejaculating more reduces prostate cancer risk, or whether it is being highly sexed that does it. (JAMA.2004;291: 1578-86).
WEATHER & MIGRAINES
According to recent research carried out at the New England Center for Headache, around half of all migraines are triggered by weather conditions, with cold dry weather being the most common causative factor. 77 migraine patients were asked to keep a headache diary for between 2 and 24 months, recording their pain scores 3 times a day. Researchers then correlated pain scores with meteorological conditions. Of the 39 subjects whose migraine responded to weather changes, 22% were sensitive to cold and dry conditions, 12% to high humidity and heat, 10% to weather changes, 4% to increased changes in barometric pressure, 8% to high barometric pressure, and 5% to low barometric pressure. (10th InternationalHeadache Congress, New York City, 2004).
HOMEOPATHY & PRURITIS
In a small study into the use of homoeopathy in the treatment of pruritis in patients undergoing haemodialysis, homoeopathic remedies were significantly more successful in relieving pruritis than placebo, and overall reduced pruritis by 49%. (Homeopathy 2003; 92: 177-81). However in another disappointing study into the use of homoeopathic arnica for post-surgical pain and bruising (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2003;96:60-5) arnica was found to be no more effective than placebo in patients receiving surgery for varicose veins. (Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheikld 2003;10: 242-7).
QUESTIONABLE RESULTS FOR OSTEOPATHY
In a study which compared osteopathic manipulation, sham treatment, (in both cases, seven sessions over 5 months), and no intervention, for chronic non-specific low-back pain, true and sham treatment both achieved similar results in terms of relief of pain, better physical functioning and greater satisfaction with back care, compared to the no-treatment controls. (Spine 2003;28: 1355-62).
ANTIBIOTICS & BREAST CANCER
The prolonged use of antibiotics is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, according to a comparison of 2,266 women with primary invasive breast cancer, and 7,953 controls. Increased risk was associated with both greater and longer use of antibiotics and was observed in all antibiotic classes studied, although among women with the highest levels of tetracycline or macrolide use, risk of breast cancer was not elevated in those using these antibiotics exclusively for acne or rosacea (indications that could be risk factors for breast cancer due to altered hormone levels). The study could not determine whether antibiotic use is itself related to increased risk of breast cancer, or whether the conditions the antibiotics were used for were causative factors. However use of antibiotics may be associated with risk of breast cancer through effects on immune function, inflammation, and metabolism of estrogen and phytochemicals. (JAMA.2004;291:827-835.)
TEA & CANCER
A study carried out in Moscow had shown that consumption of black tea can reduce the risk of developing cancer of the colon. Tea made from dry tea leaves appeared to have a stronger action than that made from tea concentrate (zavarka) – commonly used in Russia. (Ann Epidemiol 2003; 13: 405-11). In another tea study, a comparison of 501 women with breast cancer, and 594 controls, found that while consumption of black tea had no apparent effect on cancer risk, consumption of green tea significantly reduced the risk, a reduction which increased with the amount of tea drank. The same study also found reduced risk with consumption of soya, in fact the benefits of green tea in reducing risk were mainly observed in low soya consumers and vice-versa. (Int J Cancer 2003; 106: 574-9). A Korean study found that among 51 patients with human papilloma virus (HPV) infected cervical lesions (chronic cervicitis, or mild, moderate or severe dysplasia) given a variety of internal and topical green tea extracts, 69% showed an improvement, compared to 10% in a group of untreated controls. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2003;12(5):383-390). Meanwhile a long-term study of 8,552 Japanese men and women, begun in 1986, has found that women who drank more than 10 cups of green tea a day, decreased their risk of cancer by 57% compared to those who drank less than 3 cups, whilst in men the same consumption reduced the risk by 54%. These figures resulted in increased age at cancer death of 3.9 years among men, and 5.9 years among women. (Ageing Research Reviews 2003:2:1-10).
MENTAL STATE & IVF SUCCESS
Women who worry about the medical interventions involved in IVF (e.g. side effects, surgery, anesthesia) r the financial implications (cost, loss of work) are less likely to become pregnant than women who are less concerned. Women with medical concerns had 20% fewer eggs retrieved, and 19% fewer eggs fertilized. Those who were very concerned about missing work had 30% fewer eggs fertilized, and those who were very concerned about IVF were more likely to miscarry. (Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 81, Issue 4, Pages 982-988 (April 2004).