07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Chanting, Chinese Herbal Medicine

Indian researchers have confirmed that listening to the sound of the mantra ‘Om’ activates areas of the brain involved in generating feelings of empathy, and relaxes parts of the brain used in everyday cognition. The sound of Om (or Aum) is of Hindu origin, and is also used in Buddhist and Jain chanting practices. The study used fMRI scanners to monitor the brain activity of 21 men. Three sound conditions were compared: Om, a similar non-meaningful sound (the sound ‘Tom’) and a meaningful sound (the Hindi word Aam). The results revealed that, compared with the other sounds, listening to the sound Om specifically recruits neural systems and activates brain areas (bilateral cerebellum, left middle frontal gyros and right precuneus) that are implicated in emotional empathy. (Neuro­cognitive aspects of “OM” sound/syllable perception: A functional neuroimaging study. Cogn Emot. 2015;29(3):432-41).

12. November 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Chinese Herbal Medicine, Infertility

A systematic review by Australian authors suggests that management of female infertility with Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) can improve pregnancy rates two-fold within a three to six month period, compared with Western medical fertility drug therapy (WM). Forty RCTs involving 4247 women with infertility were included in their systematic review. Meta-analysis suggested a 1.74 higher probability of achieving a pregnancy with CHM therapy than with WM alone amongst women with infertility. Trials included women with PCOS, endometriosis, anovulation, fallopian tube blockage and unexplained infertility. Mean pregnancy rates in the CHM group were 60% compared with 33% in the WM group. (Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: an updated meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):116-28).

A pilot study from the UK suggests that Chinese medicine treatment is beneficial for menopausal symptoms. In a case series design, 117 perimenopausal women were treated for menopausal symptoms by six experienced practitioners of Chinese medicine. The practitioners were instructed to treat as closely to their usual practice style as possible, using Chinese herbal medicine and / or acupuncture along with dietary and lifestyle advice. A maximum of 12 treatments over six months was allowed per patient. Patients showed significant improvement across all domains measured by two menopause symptom scales. Reduction on the MenQoL scale between first and last visit was from 4.31 to 3.27 and on the Green climacteric scale from 21.01 to 13.00. Liver and kidney function tests showed no abnormal liver or kidney function during the course of the study (Chinese medicine treatment for menopausal symptoms in the UK health service: Is a clinical trial warranted? Maturitas. 2014 Nov 20. pii: S0378-5122(14)00354-5).

A Chinese study has found that a Chinese herbal formula compares favourably with drug therapy for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The formula was composed of Shu Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae), Yin Yang Huo (Herba Epimedii brevicornus), Huang Jing (Rhizoma Polygonati Sibirici), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis), Tao Ren (Semen Persicae), Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori tatarinowii), Gui Jia (Carapax et Plastrum testudinis), Bu Gu Zhi (Fructus Psoraleae), Hu Zhang Gen (Radix Polygoni cuspidati) and Ma Bian Cao (Herba Verbenae officinalis). A total of 47 PCOS outpatients were randomly divided into three groups. Patients in group A were given herbal medicine, patients in group B were given metformin, and patients in group C were given Dianette (ethinyl estradiol plus cyproterone acetate, an oral contraceptive with anti-androgen activity). All were treated for three months. At the end of the treatment period, compared with pre-treatment data, group A patients showed decreased levels of serum testosterone (T) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and a reduction in free androgen index (FAI), fasting insulin (FINS) and ovarian volume. Their serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) levels also increased, while their fasting blood glucose (FPG) levels showed no significant change. Comparing the three groups, the effects of herbal medicine on hyperandrogenism were not as significant as Dianette, but more effective than metformin, and herbal medicine did not affect hyperinsulinaemia as much as metformin, but more than Dianette. The authors conclude that TCG can treat PCOS by regulating ovarian function and reducing blood insulin levels, without inhibiting the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. (Efficacy of Chinese patent medicine Tian Gui Capsule in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Zhong Xi Yi fie He Xue Bao. 2011 Sep;9(9):965-72).

 A traditional Chinese herbal formula thought to have weak oestrogen-like activity may help ease menopausal hot flushes, a small clinical trial suggests. The formula, Jiawei Qing’e Fang (JQF), contained Du Zhong (Cortex Eucommia), Bu Gu Zhi (Fructus Psoraleae corylifolia) and Dan Shen (Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza). Clinicians in China randomly assigned 72 peri-menopausal women who were experiencing 14 or more hot flushes per week to receive either JQF or placebo every day for eight weeks. The results showed a significantly greater improvement in hot flush score in the JQF group compared with the placebo group. There were also between-group differences in vasomotor and physical symptom scores. Blood triglyceride (TG) levels in the JQF group showed a significant reduction in women with a high baseline TG. (A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a Chinese herbal medicine preparation (Jiawei Qing’e Fang) for hot flashes and quality of life in perimenopausal women. Menopause. 2011 Nov 14. [Epub ahead of print]).

A systematic review by US authors has concluded that Chinese herbal medicine may increase the effectiveness of infertility treatment with the drug clomiphene citrate (CC). Fourteen randomised studies representing 1316 patients met their inclusion criteria. Four studies (n=315) reported a 14% higher likelihood of biphasic basal body temperatures. Six studies (n=604) reported a non-significant 18% increase in ovulation rates. Two studies (n=138) reported subjects 78% more likely to have endometrial lining greater than 6mm. Thirteen studies (n=1202) reported a 50% increase in pregnancy rates. The authors noted the poor methodological quality and small sample size of published trials and called for more rigorously controlled studies. (Chinese herbal medicine and clomiphene citrate for anovulation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 May;17(5):397-405).

Traditional Chinese medicine may help maintain immune function in women undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, according to a UK study. Women with ovarian cancer were randomised to receive either TCM or placebo in addition to standard chemotherapy. The TCM group was observed to have less neutropaenia (decrease in number of neutrophils) after three cycles of chemotherapy (0% in the TCM group had grade 4 neutropaenia, versus 28.6% in the placebo group). Lymphocyte counts and cytokine activities also decreased less in the TCM group. TCM was not found to improve patients’ quality of life. (The use of Chinese herbal medicine to improve quality of life in women undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial with immunological monitoring. Ann Oncol. 2011 Feb 25).

A systematic review of TCM therapies for treatment of fibromyalgia has concluded that they appear to be effective. The authors looked at twenty-five RCTs (1516 participants) of which ten were eligible for meta-analysis. Acupuncture reduced pain scores and number of tender points compared with conventional medication, however it showed no significant effect on pain reduction compared with sham acupuncture. A combination of acupuncture and cupping therapy was better than conventional medication for reducing pain and for improving depression scores. Other individual trials demonstrated positive effects of Chinese herbal medicine on pain reduction compared with conventional medication. (Traditional Chinese Medicine for treatment of fibromyalgia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Apr;16(4):397-409).

 The evidence supporting the use of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) for primary dysmenorrhoea is promising, but better quality research on the subject is still required. These are the conclusions of a systematic review by Australian researchers, which included 39 RCTs involving a total of 3475 women. CHM was found to result in significant improvements in pain relief, overall symptoms and use of additional medication when compared with use of pharmaceutical drugs. CHM also resulted in better pain relief than either acupuncture or heat compression in the studies analysed. There were no indications that CHM caused any adverse events. (Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4): CD005288).