Intro to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Update: a new research study led by a pair of Yale researchers has verified that Huang Qin Tang is beneficial for cancer treatment.

In a study involving mice, Yung- Chi Cheng and Wing Lam tested Huang Qin Tang (called PHY906, just to make it nice and scientific) significantly reduces the intestinal side effects of chemotherapy. Inflammation went down and abdominal cell division went up; after a few days, the damaged intestinal linings were fully restored in the mice receiving the treatment.

Years of study may be required before Huang Qin Tang is used for with human patients. But one wonders if it were effective in mice, perhaps cats or/ and dogs could benefit from its effects if those animals developed cancer and were being treated with cancer killing drugs. I have an infirm dog who is undergoing chemo treatments for bone cancer. He has been able to go outside by himself via several automatic dog doors we had installed at our home. But we finally installed two electronic doggie doors that are collar activated using RFID, magnetic or electro-magnetic technologies so we didn’t have to deal with keeping unwanted animals such as skunks, racoons and feral cats out of our house. Our trusty dog now longer is a “threat” to such creatures. And now he has developing intestinal issues, probably caused by the chronic chemo drugs, that need to be addressed. I am planning to talk to our vet to see if he thinks perhaps Huang Qin Tang would help. I’ll keep you updated.

Although “the reductionist approach to treating multiple side effects triggered by cancer chemotherapy or complicated disease may not be sufficient, rigorous studies of the biology of traditional herbal medicines, which target multiple sites with multiple chemicals, could lead to the development of future medicines,” said Cheng.

Huang Qin Tang is a combination of peonies, skullcap (scutellaria), buckthorn fruit and licorice. This medicine has been known and used in China and elsewhere for centuries, sometimes called “Scute” or “Scutellaria Decoction” in the West.

While not exactly a revolution in the ongoing debate between TCM and Western medicine, this study shows further proof that the ancient remedies hold significant benefits. P.

I know, the title makes it sound like a freshman 101 course. Sorry. However, like any typical 101 course, we’re going to start with the history and philosophy before we get to the nuts and bolts.

Traditional Chinese Medicine goes back over two thousand years (and quite possibly four or five thousand) when first appeared the Neijing (Inner Canon) which provided the fundamental resource for the understanding and treatment of disease.

The Neijing’s central concept is that disease comes from an imbalance in the interactions of fundamental forces both in man (the microcosm) and nature as a whole (the macrocosm). These imbalances are most frequently a result of understandable causes in the person’s environment and lifestyle, including such things as diet and emotional states as well as the natural process of aging. By maintaining or returning to the proper natural balance, an individual has the best chance of avoiding health problems.

The Neijing ranges from extremely philosophical to extremely practical; the dialogues within provide extensive coverage of cosmology as well as specific pharmaceutical and surgical procedures. Over the centuries, the Neijing has been edited, revised, and appended to, in much the same way as any dynamic medical reference text (or religious text, or history text).

Throughout the following dynasties, both the scope and refinement of the medical understanding would take place. Much of this is considered by the current regime of China to be “Classical Chinese Medicine” as opposed to the “Traditional Chinese Medicine” that is currently practiced — though the differences are largely a matter of systemization rather than any change in the overall concepts.

What are those concepts, specifically? I’m glad you asked…we’ll be covering the philosophy and practices in more depth in upcoming pages.

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