Acupuncture Associates

News News News

November 2005


A Chinese herbal prescription, Yin Zhi Huang, containing Yin Chen Hao (Herba Artemisiae Capillaris) and three other herbs, has been found to activate the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR, NR1I3), a key regulator of bilirubin clearance in the liver. By stopping the build up of bile it offers promising prospects for the treatment of neonatal, genetic, or acquired forms of jaundice. (J. Clin. Invest. 113:137-143).



In a Japanese study, two herbal medicine prescriptions administered alternately within the menstrual cycle were found to have powerful anti-dysmenorrheic effects. The two prescriptions were Shakuyaku-kanzo-to (Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang/Peony & Licorice Decoction) and Tokishakuyaku- san (Dang Gui Shao Yao San/Tangkuei and Peony powder). All 17 dysmenorrhea patients in the study, including recurrent endometriosis and adenomyotic patients obtained complete relief within three months. Nine of 12 patients treated with the herbal therapy ovulated and all three secondary amenorrhea patients with moderate levels of serum estradiol, but none of the three secondary amenorrhea patients with little serum estradiol, also ovulated. One of the treated patients, who had a history of 10 repetitive spontaneous abortions, carried the 11th pregnancy to term. (Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2003;30(2-3):95-8).



A new study has confirmed the safety of using ginger to treat morning sickness. 187 women who used some form of ginger in the first trimester of pregnancy were no more likely than average to have babies with congenital malformation. (American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology).



60 patients with type 2 diabetes were given capsules of either cinnamon (1, 3 or 6 grams) or wheat flour (as a placebo) for 40 days. All those who took the cinnamon showed reductions in blood levels of glucose, fats and cholesterol by up to 30% whilst no change was observed in the people taking placebo capsules. The researchers suggest that type 2 diabetic patients take 1g of cinnamon per day mixed in with their normal foods. The effect is explained by compounds present in cinnamon which help make insulin more efficient. (Diabetes Care 2003 26: 3215-3218).



Up to a fifth of plant species used in herbal medicine are at risk from overpicking. The majority of medicinal plants are still harvested from the wild and a World Wildlife Federation report estimates that between 4000 and 10,000 different plants are at risk. The market for herbal medicines in North America and Europe has been growing by about 10% a year for the last decade. Many of the plants are harvested by poor communities in India and China, and overpicking is likely to destroy their livelihoods. Production of African cherry bark for example, is in drastic decline as most trees have been destroyed to feed the market for prostate enlargement medicines. Among the many other medicinal plants under threat is Chuan Bei Mu (Bulbus Fritillariae) from Sichuan. Few companies that sell herbal products appear to take steps to ensure conservation and the problem is exacerbated by the changing tastes of faddish western consumers, which keep favoring different plants. This means there is little incentive to plan sustainable production. (New Scientist, 8 January 2004).



Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, found in green tea, appears to prevent HIV from latching onto T-cells. The findings, which do not yet go beyond the test-tube, warrant further study, as existing AIDS drugs can only target infection that has already taken place. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, November 2003).



Whether a person is sitting or lying, and how their arm lies when their blood pressure is taken can significantly influence blood pressure readings. According a Dutch study, when blood pressure is taken with a person lying down, the reading will be significantly higher than when they are seated, and if they lie with their arm on the level of the bed it will also result in higher readings than if the elbow is flexed and the arm is raised to the level of the heart. The authors argue that the patient position should be mentioned in any studies reporting blood pressure readings. (J Hum Hypertens. 2003 Jul;17(7):459-62).



The influence of physical fitness on mortality has been highlighted by a recent eight-year study of nearly 6000 women (average age 52). At the start of the study, their physical fitness was measured on treadmill tests and measured in METs (metabolic equivalents). After eight years it was found that every 1 MET increase in exercise capacity in the original test was reflected in a 17% reduced risk of death over the study period. Women in the middle fitness range were twice as likely to have died as the fittest women, and the risk rose to threefold for the least fit women. Compared to previous studies in men, these figures appear to show that physical fitness is even more important for women in reducing early death. (Circulation 2003 108: 1554-1559).



7.9% of post-menopausal women (aged 50-79) report suffering from panic attacks. Women who suffered from migraines, emphysema, heart disease and recent stress were most likely to have panic attacks. No link was found between panic attacks and hormone replacement therapy. (Archives of Internal Medicine, 22nd September 2003).



Three different studies presented at a major cancer conference reported that a. mice fed gingerol extract (derived from ginger) experienced dramatically fewer experimentally-induced cancers compared to mice that did not receive the ginger extract, The Chinese herb Ban Zhi Lian (Herba Scutellariae Barbatae) slowed the growth of prostate tumors in mice, and c. heavy smokers who drank at least four cups of green or black tea a day had a 31% reduction in 8-OhdG (a chemical that the body releases in response to DNA damage) compared to none in a similar group who drank no tea. (American Association for Cancer Research conference, October 2003).




Most Chinese doctors are unashamedly in love with tea in all its forms and promote the health benefits of both green and black tea. The attitude to coffee drinkers has frankly been a little condescending, especially as more negative research is published on the health effects of coffee than its benefits. However new research indicates that drinking more coffee might reduce the risk of developing the most common form of diabetes. Compared to non-coffee drinkers, men who drank more than six eight-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee a day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30%. However the researchers do not think that the data is conclusive enough at this stage to recommend coffee consumption. (Annals of Internal Medicine, 6 January 2004, Volume 140 Issue 1, Page I-17).



Coffee also appears to enhance sperm motility, and may assist sub fertile men, whilst marijuana smoking appears to be harmful to sperm. Brazilian researchers found that the sperm of men who regularly drink coffee are stronger and have more endurance than the sperm of non coffee drinkers. Separate US research however indicates that regular marijuana smokers produce fewer sperm and their sperm are hyperactive too early on in their journey towards the egg, and in the final stages – when particularly vigorous swimming is required – they burn out. Sub-fertile men would therefore be advised to avoid marijuana, although it is not known how long it takes for fertility to improve after a man stops using marijuana. (Papers presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, October 2003).



Researchers at the University of Wisconsin asked 52 women to think and write about extremely positive and extremely negative events in their lives whilst they recorded electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex of their brains. Participants were then given a ‘flu vaccine. Six months later, the women who had shown the most activity in the right prefrontal cortex during the negative event task had the lowest antibodies, whilst greater activation of the left prefrontal cortex was associated with a stronger immune response. In previous research, regions of the right prefrontal cortex have been found to be active during emotional responses involving anger, fear and sadness, whilst the left prefrontal cortex appears  to be more active in association with positive emotions. Brain activity during the positive-emotions test was not linked to differences in antibody levels. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2003 100: 11148-11152).



In a BBC interview, Professor Hugh McGavock of the University of Ulster has warned that “gross over prescribing “of antibiotics by doctors and the farming industry, is making many antibiotics useless and that within twelve years all antibiotics could be redundant. The professor, a specialist in prescribing science, claims the potential crisis is as great as the Aids threat, with many bacteria becoming resistant to all antibiotics by 2015. One result would be that most surgery would have to be stopped because antibiotics are needed to prevent surgical infections. He points to the evidence of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), known as the ‘super bug’ which resists almost all antibiotics, with indications that even vancomycin until now the powerful drug of last resort is unable to defeat it.



New research suggests that 38.5% of women and 32.8% of men born in the year 2000, will be diagnosed with diabetes at some stage in their lives. Among people of Hispanic origin, this rises to 52.5% for women and 45.4% for men. In the last decade in the USA, the prevalence of diabetes has increased 40%, from 4.9% of the population to 6.9%. People diagnosed as having diabetes have large reductions in life expectancy. It is estimated that if an individual is diagnosed at age 40 years, men will lose 11.6 life-years and women will lose 14.3 life-years. (JAMA. 2003;290:1884-1890).



When St James’s Hospital in Leeds, England, installed negative air ionizers in an intensive care ward, they found to their astonishment that rates of airborne infection by acinetobacter fell to zero. Acinetobacter infections are resistant to many antibiotics. Quite how the ionizers worked is not clear, but researchers believe that the negative air ions from the ionizer collide with and charge suspended particles which then aggregate together and fall out of the air. (New Scientist 18:02 03).



A new study suggests that most children should not be given penicillin for a sore throat. Dutch researchers identified 156 children (aged 4-15) who visited their family doctor with a severe sore throat. The children were randomly assigned to penicillin for seven days, penicillin for three days followed by placebo for four days, or placebo for seven days. Penicillin did not reduce the duration of symptoms, nor did it affect school attendance or recurrences of sore throat. And although it was found that penicillin may reduce the development of complications such as quinsy or scarlet fever, it was observed that when a complication is actually diagnosed, sufficient time is left to start antibiotic treatment, say the authors. (BMJ 2003;327:1324).



Magic for Medical Professionals Workshop

In November of 2005, the first Magic for Medical Professionals workshop was held in Las Vegas, Nevada at the McBride School of Magic. Although I am not a magician, I developed this program with Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger as a way to introduce medical professionals to the communication skills of body, speech and mind that are used by top level performers. The workshop explored how to establish better rapport and improve the healing relationship central to all systems of medicine.

An article describing the relevance of performance magic to the practice of any type of medical professional is available here.

Magic for Medical Professionals Press Releases

Wizards Teach Medicine to Doctors

Doctor Challenges Medical Profession to Study Magic

To learn more about the magic school, visit The McBride School of Magic

General Press Releases

Culture of Fear Series

Talk To Strangers! Doctor Challenges Common Myth

Talk To Strangers! Teach Children Confidence, Not Fear

Doctors Study Magic to Transform Fear into Confidence