Chinese Herb Research

Chinese Herb Research

Feb 232017

Smell Test Outperforms Brain Imaging in Predicting Dementia

Research showing the link between loss of sense of smell and Alzheimer’s disease dates back as far as 2002, with this small study showing a “classification accuracy of 95%”. Sounds like an easy, low-cost tool that the medical community should routinely use to help patients and their families prepare to prevent and/or treat this increasingly common health tragedy!

Please note that natural medicine, especially including nutritional support1 (which is much more comprehensive than just your ‘diet’ and what you food you eat), exercise2, and Traditional Chinese Medicine3, all offer many benefits for preventing dementia.


1 Dr. Daniel Weber’s 2012 Health Research Report on Dementia/Alzheimer’s
2 Expert panel achieved consensus on the following statement: “Regular participation in physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease…”
3 Review Article: Traditional Chinese Medicine for Senile Dementia

A sampling of Traditional Chinese herbal formulas for brain and cognitive function.

Mar 302016

Here’s an article about one of my favorite Chinese herbs:
The Cold Remedy That Actually Works!

Here’s more links about this herb on my blog:
Top Chinese Herb for Immune System Support

Jun 092015

Seeing that Integrative Medicine is making great crossroads into the American healthcare system, I decided to write an article discussing this. It was published in Lotus Guide, April/May/June 2015 issue.

I also cover this warning: “Americans: Do NOT Assume OTC Drugs Are Safe!”

2015: Current State of Integrative Medicine in the U.S.

Thanks to John Weeks, of the Integrator Blog whose great posts gave me the inspiration for this for article too (see references in article)!

Aug 252014

A few articles highlighting the commonly used herb in Chinese Medicine, Jin Yin Hua, or Honeysuckle Flower – a powerful antibiotic and antiviral:

Micheal Tierra article on Honeysuckle Flower

Honeysuckle Flower Reference on Acupuncture Today

Jake Fratkin article (one of my teachers) – Modern Applications for Antiviral Therapy

Aug 192014

While most of us in the US may know of tumeric as a spice coming from India, it has been in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Materia Medica for as far back as 657 A.D. Tumeric is in the same plant family as ginger, commonly used in both Chinese herbal medicine and Chinese cooking1 . Tumeric is from the plant known as Curcuma longa, hence Curcumin became the name for the main active ingredient in tumeric.

In TCM, we commonly use at least three species that belong to the Curcuma genus. Each one contains Curcumin but each plant has different unique medicinal qualities. In the last few years, Curcumin has become popular as an anti-inflammatory herbal ingredient and is used in many western herbal and supplement products for musculo-skeletal injuries and arthritis, and for anti-cancer support. However, the various Curcuma species have been used in Chinese Medicine for a long time for pain syndromes, benign or malignant masses, and much more.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) or Jiang Huang (literal English translation is “ginger yellow”) is used in TCM to treat chest and hypochondriac (anterior rib area) pain, epigastric pain, dymenorrhea, and hepatitis liver pain. It is also used to treat pain syndromes such as tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis, especially in the upper limbs. Additionally, it is used to treat pain from certain types of infected sores and lesions. Modern research has shown it does have an anti-inflammatory effect and antiplatelet effect. Additionally, it has also shown the ability to lower both cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and has demonstrated an ability to increase production and excretion of bile.

Curcuma aromatica or Curcuma domestica (Yu Jin) is used in TCM to treat pain, cramping and bloating associated with menstruation, especially irregular menstruation. It also treats abdominal masses, especially those in the hypochondriac region and disorders such as liver cirrhosis, or hepatomegaly or splenomegaly (liver or spleen enlargement). It also has the ability to stop certain types of bleeding (based on diagnosis) such as vomiting blood, hematuria (blood in the urine) or nosebleeds. It is also used to treat certain types of disorientation, epilepsy, mania and other psychologically-related disorders. It will also treat jaundice and gallstones.

The root or rhizome of another species, Curcuma Zedoria or E Zhu, is traditionally considered one of the strongest herbs to break up masses, especially in the abdomen. Masses can be tumors, either benign or malignant. This herb is used in formulas for many types of cancer in TCM, however, modern research has shown this herb is most effective against cervical cancer. E Zhu is also a strong pain-relieving herb, especially used for abdominal pain, including certain types of epigastric or hypochondriac fullness, abdominal distention or hardness, and pelvic inflammation. It is also used for dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) and indigestion . Additionally, this herb has shown antiplatelet and anti-thrombotic properties, along with having antibiotic-like effects against Staph, Strep and E. coli.

In TCM, all health conditions, including pain syndromes or diseases, are treated after determining a diagnosis based on analyzing a patient’s signs and symptoms, along with by observing the tongue and pulse, all of which help determine the affected organs and the pattern of disharmony in the body. Once a diagnosis is made, an herbal formula will be prescribed, never an individual herb as often assumed by western patients. This is because an individual’s diagnosis is complex and specific, and in order to treat it, a combination of properties of herbs are needed to be most effective.

So, here are a few examples of modified traditional Chinese herbal formulas that I prescribe in my clinic, when appropriate, that contain Curcumin in them, along a description of their specific clinical applications (all products are from Evergreen Herbs):

1) Jiang Huang
Arm Support
Shoulder: periarthritis of the shoulder, frozen shoulder, capsulitis, rotator cuff tear, rotator cuff tendonitis, bursitis, inflammation and pain of the shoulder, subluxation or dislocation, AC (acromioclavicular) separation.
Elbow: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow), olecranon bursitis, tendonitis.
Wrist: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sprain and strain.
General musculoskeletal injuries: tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis of the arm.
Numbness, decreased range of motion and atrophy of the arm.

2) Yu Jin
Shine – Depression with low energy, prolonged sadness or irritability, and lack of interest in daily activities.

Calm Jr – ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, difficulty in focusing, inattentiveness, restlessness; childhood convulsions, epilepsy, seizures and twitching of muscles.

Liver DTX – Liver damage with high levels of SGPT and SGOT; liver detoxification: enhances the normal metabolic and detoxification functions of the liver; hepatitis: treats hepatitis with or without jaundice, repairs liver cell damage; liver cirrhosis from excessive alcohol intake; addiction: detoxifies liver during alcohol, drug or smoking cessation; cholecystitis with increased liver enzymes, possibly with liver impairment.

Migratrol – Migraine headache: acute and chronic; tension headache: acute and chronic; cluster headache: acute and chronic.

Cholisma ES – High cholesterol and triglycerides levels; fatty liver; obesity; prevention and treatment for the conditions above.

Back Support (Upper) – Acute injury or trauma to the chest, ribs, or thoracic area with pain, inflammation, swelling, or bruises; upper back stiffness and pain, scapular pain and/or pain between the scapulae; subluxation of the thoracic vertebrae; rib fracture.

3) E Zhu
CA Support – Cancer patients who suffer extreme weakness and deficiency and cannot receive surgery or chemotherapy and radiation treatments; late stage, terminally-ill cancer patients with pain and suffering.

Resolve (Lower) – Fibrocystic disorders in the lower half of the body, such as fibroids and cysts in the uterus and ovaries; endometriosis; palpable masses and benign tumors of the female reproductive organs; female infertility due to obstruction in the lower abdominal region (i.e. tubal obstruction); pelvic pain due to obstruction in the lower abdominal region; scarring or blood stagnation in the pelvic cavity from surgery.

Arm Support – described above

1 The only dish I have seen in Chinese restaurants that has turmeric in it is ‘Singapore Noodles’. I especially like it because it combines turmeric with rice noodles (vs. noodles with wheat), which is great for those who are gluten sensitive.

1. Chen, John K. and Tina T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. AOM Press: 2004.
2. Bensky, Dan and Andrew Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Revised Edition: 1993.
3. Clinical Manual of Oriental Medicine, 2nd edition, Lotus Institute of Integrative Medicine. (Descriptions of Evergreen Herbs products.)

Jan 132014

From the summary of this research:
“This study … provides the evidence that Xin Yi San alone is an effective herb in the treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis.” (Note: Xin Yi San is the TCM name of the formula, in this case, of only one herb, Xin Yi Hua, or Magnolia Flower.)

Traditional Chinese medicine, Xin-yi-san, reduces nasal symptoms of patients with perennial allergic rhinitis by its diverse immunomodulatory effects

In my office, I usually have on hand at least 2 or 3 TCM herbal formulas with this herb in them. For example, the primary herbal formula I recommend for seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, is Bi Yan Pian. A description of this formula can be found here. I have many people come back yearly for this formula plus they always recommend it others! I have other options as well, including homeopathic remedies for allergies. The best thing is that there are no side effects such as drowsiness like conventional anti-histamines!

I also carry “Magnolia Clear Sinus” and “Pueraria Clear Sinus” from Evergreen Herbs, both formulas that are very excellent for sinus infections.

Sep 162013

Research on Chinese herb Huang Qi (Radix Astragali):

Nephroprotective: Administration of Huang Qi via injection is associated with numerous benefits in patients with diabetic nephropathy, such as renal protective effect (BUN, SCr, CCr and urine protein) and systemic state improvement (serum albumin level).
Ref: Li M, Wang W, Xue J, Gu Y, Lin S. Meta-analysis of the clinical value of Astragalus membranaceus in diabetic nephropathy. Division of Nephrology, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Oct 13.

Nephroprotective: Huang Qi exerts the nephroprotective effect by reducing fasting blood glucose and albuminuria levels, in reversing the glomerular hyperfiltration state, and in ameliorating the pathological changes of early diabetic nephropathy.
Ref: Zhang J, Xie X, Li C, Fu P. Systematic review of the renal protective effect of Astragalus
membranaceus (root) on diabetic nephropathy in animal models. Department of Nephrology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Nov 12;126(2):189-96. Epub 2009 Sep 6.

Research on Huang Qi + Lu Xian Cao (Herba Pyrolae):
Aminoglycosides (an antibiotic class): In one study, compound injection of Lu Xian Cao (Herba Pyrolae) and Huang Qi (Radix Astragali) in guinea pigs was found to be effective in preventing the ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity associated with use of aminoglycosides. These two herbs protected the cochlea based on electrocochleography and morphology by scanning electron microscopy. They also improved blood urea nitrogen, urinary protein and observation of renal morphology. [Note: Examples of aminoglycosides include gentamicin, tobramycin, amikacin.]
Ref: Xuan W, Dong M, Dong M. Effects of compound injection of Pyrola rotundifolia L and Astragalus
membranaceus Bge on experimental guinea pigs’ gentamicin ototoxicity. Department of Otolaryngology, Guangxi Traditional Chinese Medical College, Nanning, People’s Republic of China. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1995 May;104(5):374-80.

More references for research of Astragalus can be found at the end of this sample monograph from the premier resource of the Chinese Herbal Materia Medica, Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, by John Chen and Tina Chen.

(I am not sure where I first found these references, but all these studies can be found on

Apr 032013

Monograph on Curcuma Longa, published by Alternative Medicine Review, a peer-reviewed CAM journal years ago now, summarizing research on Curcumin (now considered the main active ingredient in Curcuma Longa).

Curcumin Monograph

Apr 032013

Scientists at the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology (ICPO) based in India have recently found that Curcumin works against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a known cause of cervical cancer. As the research abstract summarizes “These novel findings imply that Curcumin may be an effective chemopreventive and therapeutic agent for cervical cancer prevention and treatment”.
Curcumin and HPV

Note also there is research showing Astragalus and Silymarin (from Milk Thistle) show promising results against HPV (research references will be updated later).

Mar 132013

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is the world standard of herbal medicine and these guidelines are used, amongt testing for heavy metals, pesticides and bacteria, by Evergreen Herbs, a family-run business with 3 generations of Chinese herbal scholars bringing quality medicine to practitioners and patients alike. Keep in mind also that most herbs are coming from Taiwan, so why the quality is so high. Evergreen Herbs and Herb Safety

The formulas are fantastic and bring my patients much healing! The pharmacology tomes written by John Chen and Tina Chen are a boom to phytomedicine worldwide and research is the basis of this materia medica. Order book: Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology from Evergreen Herbs or Amazon.

Mar 132013

Look at all the research showing Traditional Asian Medicine is an important medicine that works – the 8 branches of this medicine are Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, Tui Na Massage and other manual therapies (cupping, gua sha), Dietary Therapy, Astrology and Caligraphy!!!! (And I think I am somehow missing Feng Shui but it may fit into the Astrology branch.) The last two are very important, unique arts, and therefore, medicinal themselves!) All are represented here: Qi Journal and Traditonal Chinese Medicine Research

Jul 022012

Research shows that Burdock root, or Niu Bang Gen as it is known in Chinese herbal medicine, is great for protecting the liver from the effects of Acetaminophen (Brand name: Tylenol).1 So if one takes Tylenol, even occasionally, it is best to also take Burdock root at the same time. This way you can prevent the toxicity of this drug on the liver.

Tylenol or Acetaminophen is also found in the pharmaceutical Vicodin (along with Hydrocodone Bitartrate).

If one takes Tylenol or Acetaminophen regularly for mild pain and headaches, consider trying safer herbal remedies to help instead. Since Tylenol is very hepatotoxic (toxic to Liver), it is highly recommended to avoid the use of Tylenol whenever possible. When severe pain occurs, consider trying other herbal pain management as well. In this case, one should consult with an integrative medical professional such as an Acupuncturist/Clinical Herbalist or Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) for a proper diagnosis based on integrative medicine principles to prescribe the correct herbal combinations for you.

The typical dosage for a patient to take is 1-3 grams/day. A higher dosage could be tolerated, but because this herb is both bitter and cold in nature, it could cause loose stool or diarrhea in certain people (especially those that are already prone to this). This is just a simple example of how discussing your specific case or constitution with a qualified natural medicine professional will help you use herbal medicinals correctly.

1. Chen, John K. and Tina T. Chen, Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, p. 71. (Research article: Hepatoprotective effects of Arctium lappa on carbon tetrachloride- and acetaminophen-induced liver damage, American Journal of Chinese Medicine.)