Immune Boosting Foods

Immune Boosting Foods

We can almost bet that just as fall begins to roll around immune system become compromised and one by one kids at school start getting sick by the day.

The cool thing about TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is that we look at external diagnostic factors that tell us what’s going on inside our body. 

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Using Herbs to treat Cancer: Traditional Medicine in a Modern World

The simple fact that plants are a major source of many drugs is not a surprise to most. Penicillin comes from mold, coumadin from sweet clover and aspirin from the bark of the white willow. Many of the most effective cancer drugs are also plant derived such as Vincristine (from periwinkle), Etoposide (from mayapple) and Taxol (from the pacific yew tree). In China and Japan, the mainstream medical opinion is that supplementing chemotherapy with traditional herbal formulas can improve survival rates and life expectancy of cancer patients. Skeptics might doubt any herbal effect but for cancer patients, it raises a very simple question, “What does the research say?”

Coriolis versicolor, the common turkey tail mushroom, has over 400 published studies including several long term human clinical trials confirming its cancer killing, anti-metastatic, and immune enhancing effects. (1-9) It is referred to as a Biological Response Modifier as it improves the patients own anti-tumor response (10). Researchers at the St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco reviewed several randomized clinical trials and agreed with the Japanese Ministry of Health that this common mushroom significantly improves survival rates and lifespan for gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers (9).

Coptis chinensis (Huang Lian) is a favorite herb of traditional Chinese medicine for signs of infection associated with heat or inflammation. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) have demonstrated effects on hepatoma, gastric, colon, and breast cancer cells in the lab. Researchers also discovered that the whole herb is more effective than the single major constituent, berberine (11). A phase one clinical trial is currently underway on the effects of Huang Lian on solid tumors at MSKCC.

Artemisinin annua (Qing Hao), commonly known as sweet wormwood, has recently gained fame as the best treatment for quinine resistant malaria. A University of Washington study shows Artemisinin selectively kills several cancer cell lines in the test tube. It worked against breast cancer cells but was most effective for aggressive forms of pancreatic and leukemia cell lines (14,15). Artemisinin damages cell membranes by reacting with iron, high concentrations of which are found in both the malaria parasite and quickly dividing cancer cells. Researchers observed cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy were still killed by aremisinin (16).

Oldenlandia (Bai Hua She She Cao) is used traditionally for snakebite or any conditions of heat due to toxin. The Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy published an article in 2004 that showed oral doses of Bai Hua She She Cao inhibited lung cancer growth and metastasis in rats and eight other cancer cell lines in the test tube (12).

In the near future, America’s healthcare will be very similar to what is found in China and Japan: an integrative system that takes the best of all worlds for the benefit of the patient. Clearly, herbs can be potent medicines and in the case of the turkey tail mushroom a clinically proven complementary option for stomach, colon, lung and throat cancer.

When searching for an Acupuncturist, look for one that prescribe Chinese herbs. I intern in a clinic where Dr. Fudi prescribe patients with Chinese herbal decoction. These decoctions are often mixtures of single herbs to treat a number of symptoms. There are over 10,000 medicinal herbs in Chinese medicine. Homeopathic medicines and Ayurveda are also alternative options. However Chinese Herbs are the best.


The Origin and Development of Chinese Herbal Medicine

In China 80% of TCM doctors work with herbal medicine and only 20% of them work with acupuncture. The total amount of Chinese herbal medicines used is 12,807. 11,146 are of plant origin. 1581 are of animal origin and 80 are from minerals. Because most Chinese medicines are from plants the are called 'herbs'. From prehistoric times to the early 20th century, Chinese herbs have lead in preventing and treating disease for Chinese people, they have saved many lives and its the reason why the Chinese population is the largest in the world. Chinese Herbal Medicine originated in ancient times when people were looking for food. A ruller called Shen Nong taught his people how to cultivate grains as food to avoid killing animals. He tasted 70 herbs a day to test their medical value for his people. Shen Nong is considered to be the father of Chinese agriculture and herbal medicine. During the Zhou Dynasty Wan Wu( means everything in the world) was written, 70 herbs were described in it. Jin Dynasty -Ben Cao Jin Ji Zhu and Pao Jiu Lun were later written.

Sui and Tang Dynasty (581-907) Chinese Herbal Medicine Xin Xiu Ben Cao was published. Shin Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Husbandman's Classic of Chinese Herbal Medicine) is the earliest and one of the most valuable books of Chinese Herbal Medicine. More than 200 herbs in current herbal text books are from the Hing Nong Ben Cao Jing. In total it contains details of 365 herbs.

By 960 up until 1368 a total of 1700 different kinds of herbal medicine were established. From 1368 to 1644 the Ben Cao Gang Mu ( Grand Chinese Herbal Medicine was written in 1590 AD. It contains 1892 chinese herbal medications. The Encyclopedia of Chinese Herbal Medicine was compiled. It included 4300 detailed herbs. Since 1956 TCM universities have been established in China. Since then TCM pharmacology department's have existed within the universities. Zhong Hua Ben Cao (Book of Chinese Herbal Medicine) has been published since then. It list 8534 herbal medicines.

Habitat and Collection of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Habitats of Chinese herbal medication are based on Soil, Water, Climate, Sunshine and Rainfall. Best quality of herbs that come from a specific are are called 'Dao Di Yao Cai'. Best Ren Shen is from Northeast of China, Best FU Ling is from Yun Nan province, Best Huang Lian is from Si Chuan province, Best Di Huang is from He Nan province, Best Er Jiao is from Shan Dong province.

Plant origin herbs collection

Entire grass collected when flower is in full bloom, leaves are collected when their flowers are in bloom. Flowers are collected when they are blooming. Fruits are collected when they are ripe. Roots are collected in late autumn or spring. Barks are collected in spring or early summer. Animal origin herbs are collected at different times, mineral origin medication herbs are collected at any time.

The study of Chinese herbs is so in depth that the study of it is a life long application. In any TCM practice herbs accompany an acupuncture treatment and any other modality administered. In China there are about 30 pubic TCM universities. Graduates from these departments are pharmacist working for pharmaceutical companies. Chinese herbs have become more scientific and divided into sub sections with in the pharmaceutical umbrella.

In my opinion, when deciding on the right acupuncturist, look for who is knowledgable in chinese herbs or homeopathic. In addition to nutrition and acupuncture natural medicines can increase the effect of the treatment received. Chinese medicine has been proven to be the most effective.