Thursday, March 31, 2011

China Gives Limited Approval to Western Medicine

China Gives Limited Approval to Western Medicine
(humor, fictitious, April Fools!, author unknown)
Sin Hua, China News Agency, April 1, 2001

At the conclusion of a 3-day meeting held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 28-30, an elite panel of 12 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners declared, "There is sufficient evidence of Western Medicine's effectiveness to expand its use into TCM and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value". "In particular", the panel's report stated, "Western Medicine shows promise as adjunctive treatment to TCM. As a stand-alone medicine, however, its efficacy is mainly in the areas of acute and catastrophic care that comprise a relatively minor percentage of total patient complaints."

The consensus report was particularly critical of biomedical research design, since the panel had based their assessments solely on data from randomized controlled trials. Key points of the critique were:

Biomedical trials are designed to determine the mean response to treatment. This outcome is of limited value to TCM practitioners who are trained to devise individualized treatment protocols. Biomedical trials test one drug at a time. This approach is bound to reveal unwanted side effects. In contrast, TCM seeks combinations of herbs to balance out adverse effects of individual herbs.

Diseases chosen for study in biomedical research are, too often, imprecise collections of symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. These categorizations lump together different conditions that are readily distinguishable by TCM diagnosis.

"It is also our impression", the report continued, "that Western Medicine is based in a belief system that is powerfully reinforced by the large sums of money patients and insurance companies are willing to pay for treatment."

"We strongly recommend", the panel concluded, "that patients should be treated with Western Medicine only on a referral basis from a practitioner of TCM".

The most significant recommendation of this group is that only qualified TCM practitioners should be allowed to practice conventional medicine. There should, in effect, be no 'lay' doctors. In light of this, T.C.M. practitioners are advised to acquire at least 200 hours training in order to competently practice conventional medicine.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sleep Tight!: New Study Shows Chinese Herbal Medicine Works for Sleep Difficulty

A prospective follow-up study evaluating the efficacy and safety of the popular Chinese herbal preparation Suan Zao Ren Tang (SZRT) found a significant reduction of sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction in women undergoing climacteric change (aka: the menopausal era) after four weeks of therapy. Several self-report scales were used to measure outcomes including the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) assessment, and the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS). Results indicate that the more severe the symptoms, the more noticeable the alleviation o disturbance. Out of the 67 patients who began the study, 3 withdrew after reporting stomachache, diarrhea, or dizziness. These side effects may have been avoided by simultaneous administration with food or with dose adjustment. This is an excellent indication that SZRT, which has been used clinically for over a millennium, has a measurable and statistically significant benefit. Further large scale double-blind, randomized-controled studies may be developed based on this research to compare the efficacy of SZRT to placebo or other pharmaceutical or medicinal therapies.

Suan Zao Ren Tang as an original treatment for sleep difficulty in climacteric women: a prospective clinical observation by Chia-Hao Yeh, Christof K. Arnold,Yen-Hui Chen, and Jung-Nein Lai was published in the March 2011 issue of Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Gardacil Debate

As a Western and Eastern medicine provider that focuses on health promotion and disease prevention, I strongly hope for that the quest for the ultimate cancer vaccine will end for the good and we will all get our shot, go home, and be healthy. I also strongly advocate for due diligence in researching any substance you plan to put into your body rather than succumbing to emotional fear tactics used to convince you that taking, or not taking, a particular regimen makes you ignorant and irresponsible.

Vaccination for HPV and cervical cancer is something parents and individuals need to decide in partnership with their provider. However, I have to voice my own irritability at the manner in with Merck initially used their "One Less" campaign to insinuate getting the vaccine for your daughter made you a responsible parent because it would prevent her from contracting HPV or cervical cancer ever . . . mostly. I found it interesting that, unlike commercials for other pharmaceutical products where use in conjunction with lifestyle recommendations are made, this one left out safe sexual practices as a means of prevention. I am also piqued that even though Garacil has been approved for use in males, it is not getting the same goose-for-gander recommendation for vaccination (it reminds me of the very old condom commercials that told young men not to let the women stop you from using one . . . as if women are the ultimate apple-wielding culprits of STIs!).

For those who are or have children ages 9-26 who want to look at both sides of the propaganda campaigns, here are some resources.

CDC Information on Gardacil

Merck's Gardacil Page (remember Vioxx?)

Truth About Gardacil (remember when the MMR caused Autism?)

One More Girl Pledge Page