The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Chinese Herbal Medicine  (Read 24471 times)

Offline cuso4

  • Angel Delight
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
    • View Profile
Chinese Herbal Medicine
« on: 20/01/2004 09:25:25 »
What does everybody think about Chinese herbal medicine? Anyone tried it before?

Western medicine tend to be antibiotics, painkillers...etc. I tried hebal medicine few times, they seem to tackle the problem in another way. For example if your liver is weak they give you something to make you liver function better and the medical problems related to a bad liver will just disappear gradually. This is just how I think they work but it could be completely rubbish. Honestly, I have no ideal how herbal medicine work.

Angel

"The people who will succeed are those who see the invisible and do the impossible."


 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #1 on: 20/01/2004 23:56:59 »
I've had good success with Chinese herbal medicine.  Used an African sea coconut concoction to cure bronchitis.

A later case of bronchitis proved resistant to a number of pharmaceutical prescriptions, so I went to China Town and a herbalist took my pulse, looked at me and wrote a prescription, telling me that if it didn't work the first time I should come back and get a second dose.  An elderly gentleman stacked what looked like animal and reptile "parts" from glass jars onto a piece of paper.  I had to boil the stuff in water and simmer it until there was only one cup of fluid, which I was to drink.  I think there's some psychology to herbal medicine because that stuff tasted like a cow patty smells and I was NOT going to hurl it back up (and taste it again!?!!) and it was damn sure going to work because NO WAY was I going back for a second dose.  I got better.
« Last Edit: 20/01/2004 23:58:41 by Donnah »
 

Offline Ylide

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 905
    • View Profile
    • http://clem.mscd.edu/~mogavero
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #2 on: 21/01/2004 04:50:13 »
They must be doing something right...in parts of the country they are practically 3rd world, but are some the longest-lived people on earth.  I'm sure a good portion of it is diet and exercise, but the medicine, acupuncture, and chi kung must be doing SOMETHING.  



This message brought to you by The Council of People Who Are Sick of Seeing More People
 

Offline tweener

  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1144
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #3 on: 22/01/2004 04:52:29 »
hahahah  Good story Donnah!  

I think there is definitely something to herbal medicine.  The herbs and foods and whatever contain huge numbers of different compounds, in amounts high enough to be pharmacologically (sp?) active.  The only difference is you get 'em all at once in a sometimes repulsive package and "science" has not studied them extensively.

I've heard the main difference between Eastern and Western medical practice is that in the west the emphasis is on breaking the system down into ever smaller components to be studied and manipulated independently.  Eastern medicine looks at the body as a whole system with highly interconnected parts that have to function together.   To me the Eastern philosophy makes a lot more sense, but it is almost impossible to study scientifically and explain the workings at that level.  So, I guess the best overall approach would be one that tries to combine the best of both worlds.  Pretty rare!


----
John
 

Offline Ylide

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 905
    • View Profile
    • http://clem.mscd.edu/~mogavero
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #4 on: 22/01/2004 08:03:37 »
Modern biomedical research is starting to look at problems holistically.  This is not to say they're going to be using herbs any time soon, but they're starting to understand that a problem in one part of the body can cause illness in another part, and their research is starting to reflect this.  

But a wrinkled old Chinese guy shaking a lizard-on-a-stick at you has chutzpah that Western medicine will never achieve.



This message brought to you by The Council of People Who Are Sick of Seeing More People
 

Offline cuso4

  • Angel Delight
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #5 on: 22/01/2004 10:51:59 »
Donnah, I agree with you. I had to drink that as well when I was little(forced by my mom). They certainly don't smell or taste good but I don't remember seeing dried reptile in mine!

Angel

"The people who will succeed are those who see the invisible and do the impossible."
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #6 on: 22/01/2004 11:39:06 »
Just because something has the tag "herbal" it does not mean safety, or that the agent does not contain potentially harmful agents.

It's worth bearing in mind that over 30% of the most frequently prescribed agents in medicine are derived directly, or have their origins in nature :

Aspirin is the most obvious example. Salicin, fom willow bark, is a close relative of acetyl salicylate, the agent produced by Bayer in the late 1800s as an antipyretic and analgesic. Other examples include morphine, a constituent of opium from poppies, atropine (a heart drug) produced by Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), and cocaine (used as a powerful local anaesthetic) which comes from coca plants. Taxol (a promising cancer drug) is a Yew derivative, colchicine (for gout and cancer) comes from the autumn crocus, and digoxin (which can stabilise heart rhythm) has its origins in Foxgloves (digitalis).

Playing devil's advocate just for a moment, in a recently published study researchers analysed samples of "Chinese herbal remedies" dispensed by a large number of supposedly reputable Chinese herbalists. They were surprised to find that nearly half of the samples had been laced with steroids. No wonder people were claiming miracle cures for their eczema and kept coming back for more "traditional rememdies" - they were being powerfully immunosuppressed !

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #7 on: 22/01/2004 11:45:39 »
Example of how a story from newspaper "The Sun" discussing a story about colchicine would look :

A Colchicine molecule, yesterday :



Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline nilmot

  • The Riddler
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #8 on: 22/01/2004 12:18:49 »
I think taking herbal medicine is quite dangerous is some sense (I took a lot more than Angel did), you have to trust the doctor in what they know about the chemicals that are in the herb; half of them they probably didn't know what's in it and the side effect they might have apart from curing the main illness. They still have to do studies but I think most of them judge by experience in the condition and what herbs is suitable.

To be honest I thought the medecine was alright (because I have no knowledge of biology at that time). As for the reptile parts....I've never seen that before.

Tom
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #9 on: 22/01/2004 16:20:24 »
Please be cautious because Chinese herbalists are not doctors. I have seen a case in which an individual ended up in hospital with renal (kidney) damage caused by a brief flirtation with some "herbal medicine".

These remedies are not subject to the rigours of a clinical trial in the same manner as pharmaceuticals like aspirin, antibiotics or anti-depressants.

There is little or no evidence base to support or refute their actions, nor any system of tracing and following up patients who receive them in order to identify side effects, some of which have in the past been fatal.

Herbal agents may also interact with prescribed medicines, altering their action, reducing their effectiveness, or rendering them toxic. For instance women taking the oral contraceptive pill have found that it can stop working properly because substances contained in some herbs can alter the way the liver metabolises other classes of drugs, including contraceptives, anti-epileptics and blood-thinning drugs. This is certainly true for St Johns Wort (hypericum), "Nature's antidepressant".

Until this field is properly regulated, and subjected to critical appraisal in an appropriate clinical setting, I would strongly suggest against resorting to these means.

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline bezoar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 950
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #10 on: 22/01/2004 22:19:24 »
Did you hear something on the news lately that patients were taking herbal medicines that were actually interfering with their treatments for cancer?  For instance, in the past, we figured it wouldn't help, but couldn't do any harm, other than to the wallet.  Now, I understand that it is screwing up their treatments, and very few patients think to notify their docs of what they're taking in the line of herbals.
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #11 on: 22/01/2004 23:02:31 »
Proof positive that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #12 on: 23/01/2004 13:00:33 »
I can quite believe it Bezoar. Polypharmacy is a big problem.

It amazes me that people have this mental picture of drugs being bad, but herbs being good. They seem to neglect to realise that herbs contain drugs. Why else would you take the herbs if you didn't think it could do you some good ? Hence what do you think is doing you good in the herbs if no a drug ??!!

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline nilmot

  • The Riddler
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #13 on: 23/01/2004 13:31:56 »
I wonder if people will stop taking herbal medicine if someone actually worked out what's in there  then compare the effect of it with the chemicals that is the equivalent to the western medecine and published it to the public.

Tom
 

Offline bezoar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 950
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #14 on: 24/01/2004 00:13:27 »
I doubt it.  People have this thing about doing what's "natural."  And herbs seem natural as opposed to medications whihc seem synthetic.  Had a niece that got breast cancer at 35.  She would take the radiation because that was natural, but refused the chemo.  I told her that what's "natural" would be for her to die.  That anything that would be done to interfere with that process is unnatural.  Advised her to take the chemo.  She didn't.  Died about a year and a half later - naturally!
 

Offline nilmot

  • The Riddler
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #15 on: 24/01/2004 09:42:18 »
bezoar,

I think you and Chris are right about the people who take herb medecine. That they think all the natural products are good but don't really understand what it's doing to the person. Just lack of understanding really.

Tom
 

Offline bezoar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 950
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #16 on: 24/01/2004 13:37:50 »
Yeah, but often a deadly misunderstanding.  Proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #17 on: 24/01/2004 20:09:55 »
Anybody got the statistics on how many people die each year from pharmaceutical side effects?  Herbal side effects?  I'm willing to bet there's a rather wide margin between the two.
 

Offline Ylide

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 905
    • View Profile
    • http://clem.mscd.edu/~mogavero
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #18 on: 26/01/2004 00:32:14 »
Probably a wider margin than the statistic showing the number of people who were helped by pharmaceuticals and the number who were helped by herbals.

Of course herbals have less side effects, most of the time they aren't making any significant biochemical changes to your body.  So of course fewer people are going to die from side effects.  I'd guess that with pharmaceuticals, most of the deaths occur from using the drugs with other drugs that are contraindicated.  With some exceptions (Phen-fen for example), drugs that make people randomly die don't tend to make it past the FDA.  

Herbal medicine has its place, but unfortunately much of it is ineffective for real illness.  I think it's better suited to maintainance of general health as opposed to actively treating diseases.  





This message brought to you by The Council of People Who Are Sick of Seeing More People
 

Offline bezoar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 950
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #19 on: 26/01/2004 03:19:55 »
With the under reporting of the use of herbal medicines, there's not much of a way you could get accurate statistics.  I do think that the medical profession needs to be more aware of what's being used over the counter and the side effects of the herbals, especially where they interfere with the therapeutic affects of prescription drugs.
 

Offline Ylide

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 905
    • View Profile
    • http://clem.mscd.edu/~mogavero
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #20 on: 26/01/2004 07:20:55 »
I can't speak for most doctors, but the ones at the clinic at my college asked me if I was taking anything herbal before they prescribed something for my anxiety.  (ended up putting me on Klonopin, it's working quite well, I am starting to feel human again)

This message brought to you by The Council of People Who Are Sick of Seeing More People
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #21 on: 26/01/2004 12:50:22 »
Bezoar is right. As I said earlier, the apparent "safety" of herbal remedies is exactly that - "apparent" due to the fact that there are no proper follow-up procedures or side-effect monitoring protocols for herbal rememdies because it is an un-regulated system. Therefore if you rely on this data you will always over-report and over-condemn prescribed agents compared with herbal remedies.

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline bezoar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 950
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #22 on: 26/01/2004 14:14:15 »
Probably because St. John's Wort has gotten real popular as an over the counter herbal for depression.  We ask our patients also during the pre-op visit, because some of the herbal increase the clotting time.  But that question has been initiated by the nurses, not the docs, who know even less than we do about herbals.
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #23 on: 26/01/2004 14:41:25 »
I can't speak for the US, but in the UK the doctors are pretty au-fait with the issue of interactions between prescribed medications and what people take "on the side".

But there is still an image problem that 'normal' medicine has to surmount ! People love to prove us wrong and demonstrate how just a bunch of herbs can cure them when 15 doctors all failed. The reason that these stories rise to prominence is because they are so unusual. It's like the story that always gets trotted out by smokers about their 900 year old grandmother who smoked 500 cigarettes a day and died under a bus as fit as the day she was born. The reason that that story stands out is because it it so unusual. The claim that smoking protects your brain from dementia is a fallacy. Most smokers don't live long enough to develop dementia. Or lung cancer come to that !

Chris

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #24 on: 26/01/2004 21:17:24 »
I don't think that alternative medicine is better than allopathic medicine or vice versa.  They each have their place, I use both effectively and would not want to be without either.

The problem with herbal remedies is that you either have to do a lot of research about the product (uses, cautions, contraindications, effective brands...) or put your trust in an N.D.  I do think that you are less likely to kill yourself by misuse of over the counter herbals than by misuse of pharmaceuticals.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Chinese Herbal Medicine
« Reply #24 on: 26/01/2004 21:17:24 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums