Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Breath of fresh air

By Lu Hong (China Daily)

Engineer Liu Sha spends long days in the office, suffers from shortness of breath and easily catches colds. But her days of anguish are slowly disappearing thanks to "yijinjing", a combination of stretching movements and breathing exercises.

This technique was practiced inside the confines of the Shaolin Temple 1,500 years ago and up until 40 years ago, remained a mystery.

The exercises Liu practices mostly involve standing in a half crouched position raising the arms and breathing slowly.

"Now I have stronger breaths and a bigger appetite," Liu, 31, says. "My neck pain is also getting a little relief."

Under the instruction of Master Liu Yuchao, the 31-year-old professional has learned to control her breathing and can now feel qi (energy) flowing through her body.

Breathing plays an important role in most yijinjing movements, which is similar to taichi, another traditional system of physical exercises.

She learned from a news report that a yijinjing training class had opened in the Lianyang International Neighborhood, just a stone's throw away from her home.

"I learned that yijinjing is also helpful for ordinary practitioners to replenish qi, nourish the blood and calm the nerves," she says. "Then I decided to have a try."

Yijinjing, which means "limbering up exercises for the tendons", is one of the most treasured internal exercises to come out of the Shaolin Temple in Henan province. The temple is also the birthplace of Chinese kungfu.

According to legend, Bodhidharma Ta Mo created yijinjing about 1,500 years ago. It blended Zen Buddhism with martial arts to help strengthen the Shaolin monks, prolong their meditations and get them fighting-fit in order to defend their temple from invaders.

For centuries, the Shaolin monks practiced these exercises in secret and most Chinese were unaware of the techniques until the 1960s, when Louis Cha's martial arts novels became hugely popular.

In these novels, the leading characters began their lives as ordinary men but after practicing yijinjing in the Shaolin Temple they would miraculously grow into top kungfu masters.

"Actually yijinjing is not as mysterious as people think. It's just like yoga, and is good for everyday fitness," says Liu Yuchao, the instructor.

Chinese medicine doctor, Liu Yuchao, from Yueyang Chinese Medicine Hospital, opened the first yijinjing training class in Shanghai in September and Liu Sha was one of his first students.

"In my clinic, I've often taught my patients some movements to practice at home, as a way to coordinate with their clinical therapy," Dr Liu says. "They just don't know that I'm teaching them yijinjing."

Yueyang Chinese Medicine Hospital is now launching a health campaign in the city and Dr Liu is the yijinjing promoter.

Liu massages the neck and spine of each student and can discover their health problems immediately. He then suggests the best movements to cure their pain. Students consult Liu about their health problems after class and ask for advice.

Dr Liu and his promotion team want to promote yijinjing among foreigners in Shanghai.

Their first class was at Lianyang International Neighborhood in Pudong and their second class, which is being prepared, will be held in Gubei International Neighborhood.

Currently, Yueyang Hospital is not the only organization devoted to promoting yijinjing. Shaolin Temple announced a plan in September to open yijinjing training courses across China.

"Our company did have such a plan but everything is still under preparation," says Qian Xiangpeng, a project leader of Shaolin Huanxidi Company, a subsidiary of the temple's commercial arm.

Jane Chen, editor-in-chief of a yachting magazine, has tried yijinjing because she flies to Europe six times a month on average for business and the jetlag leaves her exhausted. Yoga didn't help so she tried something new.

"I've practiced yoga for a long time. It emphasizes body stretching and twisting," she says. "For me, it's too simple because I have a soft body.

"I often feel shortness of breath, yijinjing is an exercise that emphasizes internal breathing, and so it might work on me."

See this article at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2008-12/30/content_7353791.htm

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What is Artemisinin?

Coartem, a malaria drug whose potency is derived from a Chinese herb, may soon be approved for sale in the United States.
By Jordan Lite, Scientific American

Coartem, derived from the Chinese herb artemisinin, wipes out malaria in over 96 per cent of patients in regions where malaria has become resistant to older drugs.

See full article at:

Sweet Wormwood or artemesiae annuae (Chinese: Qing Hao) is available at:


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Actor Jeremy Pivens false Claims Blaming Chinese Herbs for Mercury poisoning? You Decide!

Recent articles flying over the Web claim the unsubstantiated “fact” that actor Jeremy Piven's “mercury poisoning” came from “sushi” and “Chinese herbs”.
Chinese herbs laced with mercury are illegal in this country and have been banned for years. Where did Piven get them?
We would hope that Piven's doctor would explain, however, apparently he's a controversial figure in the medical field.
As it turns out, Colker is a “love doctor,” or he was until the Federal Trade Commission called the sex drug he formulated and hawked in infomercials a sham.
Colker was busted in an FTC complaint against a Portland, Maine, company known as Vital Basics, Inc. The company was sued for false and misleading advertising involving a sex drug that Colker had formulated called V-Factor Natural Pack.
Colker, who bills himself as a “doctor and fitness trainer to the stars,” has also been sued in at least four states over another “scientific study” and testimonials in support of the sale and use of ephedra-laced drugs.
Read more about Dr. Colker at:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Authentic Chinese junk boat on the verge of extinction

The Free China is the last authentic Fujian-style junk boat in and on the verge of extinction. If a home is not found by summer 2009, it will be destroyed. Lost forever.

Click on the link below to find out more about the Free China junk and how you can help save it.

Treatment of Recalcitrant Psoriasis using Indigo Naturalis

Clinical Assessment of Patients With Recalcitrant Psoriasis in a Randomized, Observer-Blind, Vehicle-Controlled Trial Using Indigo Naturalis

Yin-Ku Lin, MD; Chee-Jen Chang, PhD; Ya-Ching Chang, MD; Wen-Rou Wong, MD; Shu-Chen Chang, PhD; Jong-Hwei Su Pang, PhD

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(11):1457-1464.

Objective To evaluate the efficacy and safety of treatment with indigo naturalis in patients with recalcitrant plaque-type psoriasis.

Design Randomized, observer-blind, vehicle-controlled, intrapatient comparison study.
Setting Ambulatory department of a hospital.

Participants Forty-two outpatients with chronic plaque psoriasis were enrolled in the study from May 1, 2004, to April 30, 2005.
Intervention The patients applied either indigo naturalis ointment or vehicle ointment topically to each of 2 bilaterally symmetrical psoriatic plaque lesions for 12 weeks (depending on the date of enrollment in the study).

Main Outcome Measures The outcomes were assessed using the following criteria: the sum of erythema, scaling, and induration scores and the clearing percentage of the target plaque lesion assessed by 2 blinded observers.

Results Significant reductions in the sum of scaling, erythema, and induration scores (P < .001) (mean score, 6.3 after indigo naturalis treatment vs 12.8 in control subjects) and plaque area percentage (P < .001) (mean percentage, 38.5% after indigo naturalis treatment vs 90% in controls) were achieved with topical application of indigo naturalis ointment. Approximately 31 of 42 patients (74%) experienced clearance or near clearance of their psoriasis in the indigo ointment–treated lesion.

Conclusion Topical indigo naturalis ointment was a novel, safe, and effective therapy for plaque-type psoriasis.

See this article at:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Duke Study: Acupuncture Offers Better Headache Relief Over Medication

By Duke Medicine, Press Release, 1 week, 6 days ago

Acupuncture is more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, according to a new analysis conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers.

The National Institutes of Health recommended acupuncture as a viable treatment for chronic headaches a decade ago and, while research in this field has increased, there have been conflicting reports about its efficacy.

“We combed through the literature and conducted the most comprehensive review of available data done to date using only the most rigorously-executed trials,” says Tong Joo (T.J.) Gan, M.D., a Duke anesthesiologist who lead the analysis.

Researchers analyzed data from only randomized controlled trials evaluating acupuncture for adults with chronic headaches and were conducted for more than four weeks.

“Acupuncture is becoming a favorable option for a variety of purposes ranging from enhancing fertility to decreasing post-operative pain because people experience significantly fewer side effects and it can be less expensive than other options,” Gan says. “This analysis reinforces that acupuncture also is a successful source of relief from chronic headaches.”

While everyone experiences an occasional headache, more than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Medication remains the mainstay of treatment with varying levels of success.

The Duke team looked at studies that compared traditional acupuncture to either medication or a control group who received sham acupuncture. Similar to traditional acupuncture, the sham therapy entails inserting needles into the skin but the acupuncturist avoids meridians or areas of the body that Chinese medicine teaches contains vital energy associated with achieving balance needed for good health.

Researchers analyzed more than 30 studies to arrive at the findings published in the December issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients who reported migraines (17 studies), tension headaches (10 studies) and other forms of chronic headaches with multiple symptoms (four studies).

In 17 studies comparing acupuncture to medication, the researchers found that 62 percent of the acupuncture patients reported headache relief compared to only 45 percent of people taking medication. These acupuncture patients also reported better physical well-being compared to the medication group. In 14 studies that compared real acupuncture to sham therapy, 53 percent of acupuncture patients responded to treatment compared to 45 percent receiving sham therapy. “Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years but only recently has started to become more accepted as an alternative or supplement to conventional therapies,” Gan explains.

“One of the barriers to treatment with acupuncture is getting people to understand that while needles are used it is not a painful experience,” Gan says. “It is a method for releasing your body’s own natural painkillers.”

Acupuncture therapy is becoming widely available nationwide and a typical course of treatment for chronic headaches requires 30-minute sessions. Many people begin experiencing relief following five to six visits. Gan also has conducted research to determine the effect of acupuncture on post-operative pain, nausea and vomiting. His research has found that acupuncture can significantly reduce pain and the need for pain medications following surgery. He also found that acupuncture can be as effective as medication in reducing post-operative nausea and vomiting.

The research was conducted in collaboration with Yanxia Sun, M.D. The meta-analysis was supported by Duke's Department of Anesthesiology.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tang dynasty Chinese Medicine Practitioner Sun Si Miao

The great Tang dynasty Chinese Medicine Practitioner Sun Si Miao (孙思邈) once wrote:
Translated, it means: The best doctors treat the disease that is yet to occur; The average doctors treat the disease that is about to occur;The mediocre doctors treat the disease that has already occurred.