Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Traditional Chinese Medicine as Influenza Treatment

A study recently found this summer that a traditional Chinese therapy known as maxingshigan-yinqiaosan (a mixture composed of 12 distinct herbs) showed promise in helping to treat influenza symptoms and reduce infection time. The mixture was compared to tamiflu, as well as a control group; it showed similar results to tamiflu in both the necessary time for fever reduction and the levels of viral shedding measured by PCR, while a combination of the two medications showed better results then either medication alone.

The reason that this popped back into the news is because another study recently evaluated the feasibility of introducing maxingshigan-yinqiaosan as a viable treatment in Western medicine. Overall, it was determined that samples of this treatment currently found in the Western world often varied widely in chemical composition - whether from variances in the herb themselves, variable growing conditions, different harvesting procedures, etc.

This is an interesting finding because it's evidence that there likely exist a multitude of different treatments from various cultures that could help supplement our current knowledge of drugs. If this treatment specifically was to be introduced in a medical sense, it would obviously be quite important to standardize the specific chemicals found within maxingshigan-yinqiason, but I think overall it shows a lot of promise in the pursuit of standardizing the quagmire currently known as "alternative medicine."

Original Study: http://www.annals.org/content/155/4/217.abstract?ijkey=80020d34814781428f0b1245de74f67d3300de69&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

-Elena Higuchi

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