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May 2006 Newsletter

In this issue Welcome to the May 2006 newsletter!

Welcome. 1
Welcome to the May edi- charts thanks to Terry Ole-
Q&A — Can Acu- 1
puncture treat Fi- tion of the newsletter. son.
We are pleased to an- You can now access all
Traditional Chinese 1-2 news and research live into
nounce the following addi-
Medicine to apply for
tions to the site: your browsers bookmarks
world cultural heri-
tage. through RSS newsfeeding
We now have an Ear Acu- technology. To enable this
Acupuncture & 2
TCM Events Calen- puncture and Auricu- John O’Connor and Dan technology in your browser
dar for May. lotherapy section online. Bensky, authors of Acu- follow the instructions un-
Acupuncture reduces 2 This section includes some puncture: A Comprehen- der the “Live RSS News-
liver toxicity, protects very detailed ear point lo- sive Text. There are also feed” menu item on
liver function and
cation charts thanks to some auriculotherapy
liver tissue and nor-
malises immune
activity in rats. Q&A — Can Acupuncture treat Fibromyalgia?
Herbal Medicine for 3 Acupuncture has been shown to relieve the symptoms of Fibromyal-
Low Back Pain. gia. These symptoms include numbness and tingling, headaches, fa-
Orwellian schemes 4-10 tigue, difficulty sleeping, abdominal bloating and constipation and
for maximizing depression.
health-care industry
profits— This months Q&A focuses on the current options for the treatment
How these endanger the of Fibromyalgia with Acupuncture and TCM and is available exclu-
practice of herbal medi- sively online at

Traditional Chinese Medicine to apply for world

Earlier this year experts decided to SATCM has conducted the last phase In more detail the eight items to be listed
apply to UNESCO (The United Na- of study and collation of material on are:
tions Educational, Scientific and Cul- TCM. This process includes compil-
tural Organisation) for world cultural ing the list of items to be protected. A • Yin and Yang
heritage for eight Traditional Chinese draft is finished and will be submitted
Medicine (TCM) items. to UNESCO within the year. • Five Elements
• Channels (odd) and (eight) collat-
These items are the theory of TCM erals
science, health preservation, diagnosis, • TCM diagnosis methods and theo-
prescription, medicine, acupuncture ries (watch, hear, ask and touch)
and medicines of various ethnic mi- • Health preservation through eating
norities (Tibetan and Mongolian). and drinking (Chinese dietetics)
• Health preservation through exercise
The director-general of the depart- (Five-animal frolics Qi-Gong)
ment of International Cooperation,
state administration of TCM (Continued on page 2)

(SATCM) Shen Zhixian said that

May 2006 Issue
Page 2

Traditional Chinese Medicine to apply for world cultural heritage.

(Continued from page 1) does not apply to UNESCO for world 800,000 people in the profession
cultural heritage Japan and South Ko- declining to 500,000 in 1949. Today
Shen stated that "We apply to rea will most likely follow that path.. there are 270,000 practitioners with
UNESCO for world cultural heritage only 10 percent of doctors of TCM
for a package of eight Traditional Chi- Alot of experts in favor of the heritage giving their patients a prescription of
nese Medicine items because TCM is application are concerned about the decoction healing. This means that
too profound". The fear other countries future development of TCM. In the less than 30,000 doctors in China
will apply is another reason - If China early 20th century there were a total of are practicing TCM.

Acupuncture & TCM Events Calendar for May 2006

AACMA Conference Day 1

4-7pm Registration. 6.30-8pm - Pre-Conference Drinks.

Contact: AACMA on Ph: +61 7 3846 5866

AACMA Conference Day 2

List your event for 8am-4pm - Annual conference and trade. 9am - Opening ceremony, 4-6pm -
FREE on our web- AACMA/AESO Annual General Meeting, 7pm - Gala Dinner. Contact:
site and newsletter. AACMA on Ph: +61 7 3846 5866

Submit your event AACMA Conference Day 3

now by visiting:
7-8am Early morning chinese exercise, 8.30-5 - Annual conference and trade, 5pm - Closing ceremony. Contact: AACMA on Ph: +61 7 3846 5866

Acupuncture reduces liver toxicity, protects liver function and liver tissue
and normalises immune activity in rats. [24 Apr 06]
A group of researchers at the College blood cell counts were used.
of Oriental Medicine at Daejeon Uni-
versity have shown that manual acu- The study found that the manual acupunc-
puncture reduces liver toxicity, pro- ture at GB34 reduced the liver index, serum
tects liver function and liver tissue, ALT, AST, ALP and total cholesterol levels as
and normalises immune activity in compared with the control group and the
CCl4-intoxicated rats. sham acupuncture group. It was also noted
that the populations of WBC and lympho-
To induce liver injury the rats were cytes had increased and normalized .
injected intraperitoneally with CCl4
(1 mL/kg) solution in olive oil and The researchers in the study stated that "The
then treated with acupuncture at left jaundice and is reportedly used clinically hepatoprotective effect of manual acupunc-
GB34 (Yanglingquan) 3 times a week for conditions such as hepatitis, acute ture at GB34 may be related to the immune
for 10 weeks using reinforcing ma- biliary tract diseases and cirrhosis of the reinforcing effect of acupuncture or neuro-
nipulation techniques. liver. immune interaction on the pathway of the
transmission of acupuncture stimulation".
The acupoint GB34 is located on the For the sham point a non-acupoint was
Gall Bladder meridian and this merid- used located in the left gluteal region. To References: Yun-Kyoung Yim, Hyun Lee, Kwon-Eui
ian affects the Gall Bladder organ. assess the hepatoprotection effect meas- Hong, Young-Il Kim, Byung-Ryul Lee, Tae-Han Kim, Ji-
urement of liver index, biochemical assays Young Yi (April 14th 2006) Hepatoprotective effect of man-
The Gall Bladder organ through an ual acupuncture at acupoint GB34 against CCl4-induced
interior-exterior relationship connects including serum ALT, AST, ALP and
chronic liver damage in rats. ISSN 1007-9327 CN 14-1219/
with the Liver. GB34 is indicated for total cholesterol, histological analysis and R World Journal of Gastroenterology 2006 April 14.
May 2006 Issue
Page 3

Herbal Medicine for Low Back Pain. [20 Apr 06]

Herbal medicine is effective pills) and with rofecoxib the studies were judged to
in treating lower back pain (Vioxx). Topical Capsicum have a potential conflict of
and in some cases is just as frutescens (Cayenne) was interest and two others did
effective as pharmaceutical compared with placebo and a not discuss conflict of inter-
drugs. homeopathic gel. est. Vioxx has been with-
drawn from the market be-
Back pain is common, affect- Devil's Claw, in a standard- cause of adverse effects, so all
ing as much as 35% of the ized daily dose of 50 mg or three substances should be
population in a given month. 100 mg harpagoside, seemed compared with readily avail-
Non-specific low-back pain is to reduce pain more than able pain medications such as
defined as pain between the placebo; a standardized daily nonsteroidal anti-
lowest rib and the bottom of dose of 60 mg reduced pain inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
the buttocks that is not about the same as a daily dose and acetaminophen, to test
caused by serious, underlying of 12.5 mg of Vioxx. While for relative effectiveness and
“Devil's Claw, in a safety.
problems such as rheumatoid Willow Bark, in a standard-
standardized daily dose of arthritis, infection, fracture, ized daily dose of 120 mg and
cancer, or sciatica due to a 240 mg of salicin reduced Although there are good re-
daily dose of 60 mg herniated disc or other pres- pain more than placebo; a sults with three herbal medi-
sure on nerves. standardized daily dose of cines in short-term trials, with
reduced pain about the 240 mg reduced pain about strong evidence for a particu-
Oral and topical herbal medi- the same as a daily dose of lar form of one of the herbal
same as a daily dose of 12.5 mg of Vioxx. medicines, there is no evi-
cines are being used to treat
12.5 mg of Vioxx”. many conditions; several are dence yet that any of these
used for back pain and have Cayenne was tested in plaster substances are safe and useful
been tested in clinical trials. form and reduced pain more for long term use.
than placebo and about the
Three oral herbal medications same as the homeopathic gel References:
were tested in ten randomized Spiroflor SLR. Adverse effects
controlled trials that included were reported, but appeared Gagnier JJ, vanTulder M,
1567 adults with non-specific to be primarily confined to Berman B, Bombardier C.
acute or chronic low-back mild, transient gastrointesti- (2006) Herbal medicine for
pain. nal complaints. low back pain. The Cochrane
Database of Systematic Re-
Two oral herbal medications, Most of the trials were of views: Reviews 2006 Issue 2
Harpagophytum Procumbens moderate or high quality, but John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
(Devil's Claw) and Salix Alba they only tested the effects of Chicheste r, UK DOI:
(White Willow Bark), were short term use (up to six 10.1002/14651858.CD0045
compared with placebo (fake weeks). The authors of half of 04.pub3

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dents and practitioners of Acupuncture & Traditional Chi-
nese Medicine. It relies much on information contributed
from the community.

We welcome any contributions including news articles, re-

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publication on our website and in this newsletter.

To contribute visit

May 2006 Issue
Page 4

Orwellian schemes for maximizing health-care industry profits

How these endanger the practice of herbal medicine
A two part report by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.
Tactics used by modern megacorporations to inhibit the delivery of effective health care: deceptive marketing, product design
to maximize side effects, influence over educational bureaucracies, legislators, regulatory agencies, and international trade
organizations. Effects on the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbal profession are examined as a special case, as these
illustrate problems afflicting both conventional and alternative health care. (The author has several decades experience in
clinical Chinese herbology and the politics and regulatory issues affecting it.) Originally presented at Conference on Plants,
Medicine, and Power: Emerging Social and Medical Relations; 2003 March 14, UC Berkeley.

This month.. • Choke off competing health care produce professionals indoctrinated in
options with mandatory state licensure. techniques and modes of thought that will
• Overview maximize corporate profits. Tactics for-
• Choke off accurate information by merly seen primarily in the pharmaceutical
• Shareholder value vs. the public controlling the media, and punish independ- industry are now being seen with greater
good - the modern megacorporation ent media sources by withholding advertising frequency in the so-called health food in-
dollars. dustry and alternative health professions.
• Marketing and product-design Such an evolution of business practices
abuses • Choke off the most tenacious critics should not be surprising, given the current
with food and product defamation statutes. trend of global megacorporations absorb-
• Encourage maximum consump- ing, amoeba-like, smaller entities in their
tion with over-general product claims. • International tactics path of conquest.

• Emphasize invisible benefits. • Expand the venue of expensive and Specifically discussed are the damaging
restrictive regulatory schemes via international effects of corporate and institutional strate-
• Beat the drum of single- trade organizations and international treaties. gies on the traditional Chinese (TCM)
parameter double-blind testing to distract herbal profession. These effects are typical
patients and practitioners from more • Pretend to protect indigenous health of problems now afflicting both conven-
sophisticated research paradigms. care practices and native plant sources with tional and alternative modes of health care.
toothless regulations and promises.
• Utilize religion to enhance the While many well-meaning individuals and
placebo effect and further suppress self- • Suggested counter-strategies professional groups have waged political
awareness. and regulatory battles to address single
issues affecting freedom of choice in health
Next month.. Overview care, few see the entire nature of the beast
that manipulates sickness and death for the
• Acquire testimonials from true To create effective national and profit of a few. Hopefully, armed with an
believers. international strategies for protect- understanding of all the beast's tactics and
ing inexpensive, indigenous modes of health strategies, well-intentioned individuals and
• Maximize side-effects and create organizations will be more effective in
new markets. care (such as herbal medicine) first requires
championing human health and potential.
an honest examination of current industry
• Lobbying public officials and and institutional abuses in the domain of
non-profit institutions health care and how such abuses have dam- Shareholder value vs.
aged people's health and violated their right the public good - the
• Encourage expensive regulatory to choose health care options. To maximize
schemes to put smaller competitors out corporate profit at the expense of the public modern megacorpora-
of business. good, specific tactics and strategies are out- tion
lined that are potentially available to modern
• Maintain double standards for corporations with the complicity of profes- Note: The tactics discussed here
pharmaceuticals vs. herbs. sional organizations and regulatory and licens-
ing agencies. These tactics involve deceptive include progressively egregious
• Promote adoption of regulatory marketing, product design with the goal of examples of deception, dishonesty, and
standardization of biochemical profiles creating long-term dependencies for potentially unlawful behavior that are possi-
for herbal products. "managing" chronic illness, controlling the ble in today's political, economic, and regu-
flow of grant money to researchers with intent latory environment. Just as in the board
• Choke off accurate information to influence reported results, manipulating game "Monopoly", such tactics are the
at its source - the educational institu- the public with scare stories to influence regu- moves available to a company if the dice of
tions. latory agencies and legislators, and influenc- fate makes them available and if they are
ing and controlling health care education to
May 2006 Issue
Page 5

then chosen by the board of directors. They others. See tactic below, "Testimonials". guidelines to help them determine
are presented for theoretical discussion only, whether a product is beneficial and how
and no claims are made that individual com- A crucial principle of TCM herbology is that long to take it before expecting specific
panies or individuals are engaging in these each herb or herbal formula has a very specific results, they will guess or switch to other
tactics. The reader must decide if and when and limited range of action; if the pattern of products in a type of shotgun approach.
these tactics are evident in real situations. symptoms and clinical signs falls outside this While this tactic may increase product
range, it may be inappropriate or contraindi- sales, it ultimately reduces the credibility
It is the author's observation that individual cated. Frequently, biomedical indications are too of TCM as a profession. I have heard
herbalists, physicians, and small companies general, and the health condition must be fur- certain people claim that Chinese herbs
that have a more personal relationship with ther differentiated to determine an appropriate do not work, because they personally
their clients and customers are much less herbal strategy. [a3] For example, consider the tried them without results. However,
likely to consciously engage in deception and apparently simple question: what herbs such people probably would not make
dishonesty; more likely, they are often the (medications, diet, etc.) would help restore health the same assumptions about pharmaceu-
victims of such tactics as well as their custom- in specific conditions such as pneumonia, influ- tical drugs, if they had gone to a physi-
ers. As has been observed by many through- enza, or insomnia? Many people assume that cian who prescribed by consulting a
out American and European history, the these medical terms represent accurate and com- random-number generator or by throw-
larger the company and the greater its politi- plete descriptions of specific health problems, ing darts at a medications chart. How
cal and economic power, the greater is the and that they definitively lead to appropriate many people are quick to blame the
potential for abuse. During the past several choices of herbs or medications. They do not. A herbs rather than their own lack of
decades, there has been a disturbing trend of person with pneumonia has a condition of viral knowledge and discrimination in choos-
mergers and acquisitions in the international or bacterial infection in his lungs; this term says ing them correctly?
business world that has affected the health nothing about behavior patterns or the condition
product industry as well. The consequent of other internal organs. Likewise, influenza is a The reputations of many useful herbs
concentration of power and wealth, the tenu- condition in which a species of influenza virus have been tarnished by over-hyped mar-
ous and remote relationship between corpo- has proliferated within an individual's body. It keting campaigns that emphasize ex-
rate boards and product end users, and the does not specify how the person's body is re- panding sales to the detriment of edu-
overwhelming emphasis on shareholder value sponding to the infection. Different individuals cating the public in their effective use.
at the expense of the public good has reached may respond in different ways to the same infec- There seems to be a commonly followed
a crisis point. tious organism, and the response pattern is im- protocol for the introduction of new
portant in determining an appropriate herbal herbal products into the market:
In the following outline of tactics, the term strategy. For example, the initial low-fever stages
"health products" includes pharmaceuticals, of the onset of an infectious feverish illness must 1. Prepare and collect scientific re-
herbs and herb products, dietary supple- be handled very differently from an epidemic search on the target herb that seems to
ments, and foods with claimed health bene- illness in which high fever, delirium, and hemor- support very general and often vague
fits. Practices formerly seen primarily in the rhage are occurring; the systemic conditions are claims for health improvement or dis-
pharmaceutical industry are now being seen completely different and different strategies are ease prevention.
with greater frequency in the so-called health required. Insomnia refers only to a person's in-
food industry. Such an evolution should not ability to sleep soundly; temperature sensations,
be surprising, given the current trend of
2. Collaborate with and fund both
vitality levels, appetite, bowel patterns, and thirst popular and professional herbal jour-
global megacorporations absorbing, amoeba- may vary considerably among a group of people
like, smaller entities in their path of conquest. nals and magazines to widely publicize
suffering from insomnia. the scientific research, to stimulate
product interest among consumers and
Marketing and product- The human body is a complex creation, with all
health professionals; arrange to have
of its component parts functioning together,
design abuses each organ having direct and indirect effects on
product advertisements appear side-by-
side with the journal articles.
every other part of the body. In practice, it is
Encourage maximum con- seldom possible to ingest a food or herb that
3. Initiate blitzkrieg-style marketing
sumption with over-general affects only one organ or body tissue without
simultaneously affecting many other organs and campaigns, often using multi-level mar-
product claims. tissues. This fact is the central reason why the keting strategies which are notorious for
potential side-effects of improperly chosen herbs, their exponential speed in expanding
the market for a formerly unknown
Tactic: Make the claimed benefits as broad as foods, and medications (natural as well as syn- product.
possible to induce the consumer to conclude thetic) are such a significant problem.
that the product will benefit almost any dis-
ease. If the consumer is able to choose the
The financial pressures of herbal marketing have 4. As product consumption begins to
led some distributors of Chinese herbs to pro- plateau, terminate the multi-level mar-
correct, effective remedy too quickly, this may
mote simplified and simplistic biomedical indica- keting structure and switch to conven-
result in lower total product sales. Instead, by
tions for their products (influenza, insomnia, tional distribution to established health
promoting a range of products as being poten-
hypertension, etc.), effectively broadening the food stores and clinics.
tially beneficial and by making very general
potential market relative to the more restrictive
claims for each product, maximum consump-
tion is encouraged. Enough consumers may
TCM indications. Such a strategy will help to 5. After a large number of people try
expand the initial market for a product, but will the product with disappointing results,
eventually stumble onto a remedy that works
also result in lower success rates among consum- shift the marketing resources toward
for their own health problems to encourage
ers. Since most of these consumers will have few step 1 for a new product and start the
May 2006 Issue
Page 6

(Continued from page 5) and wits to comprehend the nature of an als sometimes persist in the consumption of vari-
illness and appropriate actions. ous herbs, supplements, and diets, in spite of
obvious side effects. Encapsulated herb products
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is are especially prone to this problem, as they slide
process once again. one of the most sophisticated and detailed down the gullet without taste or fuss but may
forms of indigenous pre-industrial health result in unpleasant side effects hours later. In
Most popular magazines that include care, likely because Chinese scholars, for at some cases this may continue for years before the
coverage of herbal medicine tend to shy least several thousand years, recorded their individual recognizes that there may be a prob-
away from covering products with a TCM- methods in detail and passed them on to lem. As an example, cayenne pepper is relatively
style description of indicated and contra- future generations for continual refine- safe when consumed with food, as its acrid-fiery
indicated patterns of symptoms and clini- ment. Patterns of symptom complaints quality will tend to limit consumption. However,
cal signs, as such an approach would were classified into categories and subcate- in capsule form, several hours may pass before the
increase consumers' knowledge and might gories based upon the treatment methods individual experiences burning sensation in the
decrease potential sales of the specific observed to be effective for such patterns. abdomen, when the cause has been forgotten. I
product, at least initially. The favored Classification of abnormal tongue features know of individuals who have contracted severe
format for articles is to present as much (tissue color, moisture, shape, tissue thick- ulcerative colitis from such misadventures, persist-
scientific-sounding evidence as possible, ness and color) and palpated radial pulse ing because some perceived authority figure told
most of which will fall into the category qualities provide additional data to help them it would be "good for disease X", or would
of invisible benefits. In other words, avoid verify the presence of specific patterns of provide some other form of invisible biochemical
discussing criteria by which a consumer illness. [a1, a2, a3] benefit. Any competent TCM herbalist would be
will clearly know if the product is benefit-
able to quickly spot the pattern of symptoms and
ing them, having no result, or is contrain- With the advent of the industrial era, clinical signs for which cayenne is contraindi-
dicated or resulting in side effects. medical diagnostic technology, and the cated: reddish tongue, yellow tongue coat, or
sciences of chemistry, biochemistry, and tongue with fissuring patterns and absent coating;
Emphasize invisible bene- physics, modern medicine chose to focus rapid-thready or rapid-full pulse; feverishness or
heavily on the microscopic and submicro-
fits. scopic world of cells, microbes, molecules,
aversion to heat, burning pains in the abdomen
or trunk of body; thirst; insomnia; agitated or
and atoms. While there is no logical rea- aggressive behavior; and other symptoms.
Tactic: Emphasize claimed benefits of son why the world of immediate sense
health products that cannot be easily impressions need be left behind, the inevi- Biochemical knowledge of herbs can be useful
verified by the individual consumer, such table trend of industrial culture has been information clinically only if carefully integrated
as biochemical effects. Avoid being too to desensitize humans to their environ- within the context of practical symptomology.
specific about contraindicated and indi- ment, because such desensitization is often However, to avoid misleading interpretations that
cated symptom patterns and about typical an advantage in creating a work force un- may lead to side effects, this integration should
symptom changes that one should expect conscious of the toxic horrors inflicted adhere to specific guidelines. Symptom indica-
if product works as claimed. This would upon their bodies. Health care workers, tions, known biochemical constituents, compari-
allow the product user to easily decide being members of the desensitized culture, son of effects of herbs with similar biochemical
whether the product is or is not improv- come to rely heavily upon instrumentation profile, and physiological modes of action of con-
ing one's health and may result in de- and lab tests for a version of "truth" that stituents must all be correlated for logical consis-
creased product sales. Instead, steer all fits into their mental model of the world, tency, and alternative explanations for observed
discussion toward the effects on hormone and which they have been carefully edu- effects considered. [a4] Too often glib explana-
levels, blood chemistry, immune system cated to believe is the only valid way of tions are provided for observed clinical effects
changes, nutritional and physiological determining such truth. based on a few biochemical and physiological
effects, antibiotic effects, etc., each of facts connected by a rickety chain of logic.
which would require expensive laboratory The final deadly assault on the human
analysis to verify in individual cases. organism is made possible when the indi- While such mishaps are much more common
vidual has reached a stage of total trust in, with pharmaceutical products (iatrogenic illness),
All forms of indigenous, pre-industrial or capitulation to, the industrial culture it would not be fair to let herbalists and herbal
health care, regardless of ethnic or cul- and has allowed his or her physician to marketers off the hook. Statistically, while the
tural origin, are based on the ability to declare that miscellaneous symptoms not annual fatalities from herbal products (excluding
recognize patterns of illness comprising accounted for by lab tests or diagnostic coca, opium poppy, alcohol, and other legal or
the symptoms, clinical signs, and associ- equipment are meaningless, of no conse- illegal potent-addictive drugs) are minuscule com-
ated circumstantial evidence of such ill- quence, and perhaps even imaginary. After pared to those from pharmaceutical products [a5,
ness. In other words, the data immedi- a period of such negative reinforcement by a6], similar types of marketing tactics are increas-
ately available to the senses and the intui- authority figures, such individuals learn to ingly seen in all types of health product market-
tions induced by these sense impressions suppress conscious perception of their ing.
provide the basis for deciding appropriate bodies. Such semi-conscious people are
action: administering herbs, special diets,
steam baths, massage, bone-setting and
ripe candidates for marketing based on a
plethora of purported invisible benefits,
Beat the drum of single-
simple surgical techniques, etc. Much in such as improved biochemistry, enhanced parameter double-blind testing
the same way that a skilled animal tracker brain waves, balanced etheric fields, and
observes subtle changes in the forest after neutralized karmic nebulosities.
to distract patients and practi-
an animal's passing, the traditional health
care provider relies on acute perception Even supposedly health-minded individu- (Continued on page 7)
May 2006 Issue
Page 7

tioners from more sophisti- lems generally means that as soon as the (subjects and researchers who administer the
consumer stops using the product, the chief remedies do not know which are the placebos).
cated research paradigms. symptom or symptoms will recur, creating a All subjects' blood pressure is measured at spe-
classic addictive pattern. Refined sugar, cific times throughout the testing period. After
Tactic: While traditional Chinese herbol- caffeine, and nicotine are examples of ad- the data is collected, the averages and standard
ogy and other styles of holistic-type clini- dictive substances that society tolerates and deviations are compared to determine whether
cal assessment may be undesirable for that many people demand on a daily basis the difference is statistically significant. The
maximizing product sales, these methods because they provide immediate, though conclusion is either that the test substance
are useful tools for clinical research to temporary, relief of such symptoms as fa- "works" or that it "doesn't work". If it does work,
complement biochemical methods in tigue and mental exhaustion in the case of then some clever researcher attempts to track
helping to tailor products that are effec- caffeine and sugar, and anxiety and emo- down the "active" chemical constituent responsi-
tive in providing symptomatic relief, but tional stress in the case of nicotine. Herbal ble for the effect. These types of articles appear
result in predictable long-term side effects weight-loss products that contain ephedra in TCM research journals constantly.
for which additional profitable product likewise may provide temporary increase in
metabolism without resolving the underly- Unfortunately, even many TCM clinical herbal-
lines may be created. Multifactorial statis-
ing chronic metabolic and dietary problems ists see nothing wrong with such a study; after
tical analysis is common in psychological
and leading to a cycle of addiction. all, this is how respected medical research is
and industrial research, and health-care
done every day all over the world. However, its
companies must take advantage of state-
TCM herbalists recognize the maxim that design violates the very philosophy of traditional
of-the-art statistical methods. However, it
one man's poison may be another man's Chinese herbal science and is deeply flawed
would be wise not to publicize this; in-
food or medicine. Individual differences in logically. TCM herbal science is founded on the
stead, continue to issue press releases and
metabolism, body type, ancestry, genetics, assumption that matching herbal formulas to
research reports for public consumption
and life circumstances account for such the whole pattern of a person's disharmony
that only discuss the old-fashioned single-
variations. It is possible that herbs that are (entire pattern of symptoms) is superior to
parameter double-blind tests.
non-addictive and beneficial for individual choosing remedies for individual symptoms,
A central principle in designing individ- A's overall health may be merely suppres- independently of the context of the total symp-
ual TCM herbal formulas is that one sive of individual B's symptom complaints tom pattern. The experiment just described
must counteract or relieve the chief com- and deleterious to B's overall health. blithely assumes that the Western biomedical
plaint so as to improve overall health and model is just fine for answering questions of a
While pharmaceutical companies like to TCM nature and proving its efficacy.
resolve those factors contributing to the
make a big fuss about how their drugs are
chief complaint. Side effects result pri-
tested using double-blind single-parameter TCM herbology differentiates at least four basic
marily when this rule is violated. [a1, a2,
controlled experiments, the reality is that pattern manifestations of high blood pressure:
a3] It is much easier to find many ways
such single-parameter tests are quite crude.
that merely suppress the chief symptom
complaint, while ignoring all considera-
Professions as diverse as psychology, opera- • Liver Fire
tions research, engineering, and ecology
tions of systemic effects. See discussion
above under "Encourage maximum con-
have for many decades recognized the value • Deficiency of Kidney and Liver Yin with
of modeling natural processes as a coordi- Ascension of Yang
sumption with over-general product
nated interplay of multiple variables for
which the mathematics of multivariate
• Depletion of both Yin and Yang
A somewhat more sinister corollary of the statistics, control theory, and vector algebra
preceding principle is that it is also possi- are important tools of analysis and experi-
• Phlegm-Dampness Accumulation
ble to suppress symptom complaints mental design. That pharmaceutical compa-
while failing to resolve the underlying nies are somehow wholly ignorant of these Each symptom pattern requires different herbal
problem and even chronically aggravating areas of science and mathematics stretches formulas, and for which some of the herbal
systemic factors. A common and relatively the limits of credibility. Yet why do medical formulas are contraindicated in the other pat-
obvious example of this would be addic- journals that publish results of drug safety terns, and may actually aggravate the hyperten-
tive pain-relief medications. That this type tests continue to publish and publicize sion. The single-parameter double-blind experi-
of treatment is essentially suppressive, these single-parameter tests as being the ment decribed above fails to distinguish possible
with serious side effects including addic- "gold standard" of medical research, when differences in effects that may occur in the vari-
tion, is widely recognized, and is why such scientists in other fields know quite well ous types of high blood pressure. The Western
treatments are strictly controlled legally that such experiments may fail to reveal biomedical model is not capable, in spite of its
and ethically. many significant interactions?
seeming sophistication, of providing precise
It requires only a slight stretch of imagina- To illustrate how the seriously flawed sin- solutions to vague questions. To choose herbs
tion to speculate that it is possible to gle-parameter research designs are com- for an individual with high blood pressure, one
suppress symptom complaints while in- monly mimicked even by TCM herbal re- requires considerably more information.
ducing chronic systemic illness whose searchers [b6], consider the standard two-
onset manifests slowly and subtly enough part experiment where the effectiveness of a Health care providers and patients may be mis-
to "fly under the radar" of regulators and particular formula or herb in relieving high led by deceptive and incomplete research results
fall within the range of what is tolerated blood pressure is being tested. In such an to believe that a product will be beneficial, when
by society. That such suppressive products experiment, half of the subjects are given a it may merely suppress symptom complaints at
successfully alleviate the chief complaint placebo and the other half the intended the cost of creating chronic illness or depend-
while failing to resolve underlying prob- test substance in a double blind setup ency. Proper TCM research must account for
May 2006 Issue
Page 8

(Continued from page 7) to ignore reality with good cheer. This value of acupuncture points, and which purport
religion conducts its rituals primarily upon to indicate relative degree of "inflammation vs.
multiple symptom variables (patterns of the altar of television, the Spanish- sub-functioning" of the organ represented by the
disharmony) when testing the effects of Inquisition style of religion no longer be- point; when it is pointed out that such measure-
remedies, or it will often be useless to ing necessary as a tool of population con- ments may be highly variable due to small
clinicians. The solution to this problem is trol. Modern psychologists have discovered changes in applied pressure of the hand-held
not the subject of this article and has that it is so much easier to create a religion electrode probe, the practitioners often become
been outlined elsewhere [f1]. that we all demand, which is addicting, indignant that one would question the integrity
and with which we "amuse ourselves to of such expensive devices. Flashing LED's, hushed
Utilize religion to enhance death". [b3] technoid bleepings, and glowing numerical dis-
plays do seem to bestow magical powers, espe-
the placebo effect and fur- As with televisions, other modern-day cially if purchased at awe-inspiring prices.
altars of worship must be equipped with
ther suppress self- control panels of flashing LEDs and stylish The TCM profession has also suffered from its
awareness. chrome dials if they are to adhere to ortho- tendency to attract westerners searching for some
doxy. I've witnessed numerous sales presen- religious-like belief system upon which to anchor
Tactic: Utilize religious faith to overcome tations for health devices that awe the their lives. According to the historian Arnold
reason, logic, and self-awareness and to audience with flashing lights and hushed Toynbee, the forces of disintegration and chaos
enhance the placebo effect. For believers electronic bleepings. More than a few ob- experienced during the declining phases of em-
of the modern day religion of materialis- servers have commented with sincerity, "It pire invariably lead to specific types of dysfunc-
tic scientism, provide testimonials from costs so much money, it must do some- tional responses; the archaist or fundamentalist
scientific experts regarding the claimed thing." A sure marketing winner is a prod- response is characterized by a desire to return to
benefits. For believers of more ancient uct that is "scientifically proven", conveys the "good old days" and a refusal to cope with the
faiths, provide evidence of blessings from this impression with a suitable control reality of current events. [b5] TCM attracts a dis-
ancient masters and gurus. panel, and promises unlimited prosperity proportionate number of students who are seek-
and blissful thoughts. ing certainty in the wisdom of ancient masters.
Wilhelm Reich, a physician who pub- While TCM indeed possesses wisdom that can
lished a series of books [b1] about the The practice of TCM is now under assault benefit us today, it is not perfect or omniscient in
psychological basis of authoritarian con- by demands to replace its reliance on di- its wisdom, and certain practices, such as the use
trol strategies, revealed that fascist socie- rectly perceived sensory data with high-tech of heavy metal compounds, would be considered
ties (broadly defined, include most gadgetry that produces numerical "disease" unacceptable today.
"civilized" nations) gain control over their indicators, in an attempt to mimic the
subjects by inducing them to suppress pseudo-scientific popularity of lists of num- The historical and cultural context of heavy metal
bodily instincts (including natural sexual bers. While some of these gadgets may usage as a drug helps us to understand why it had
function), which constitute the first line indeed measure variables correlated with been used and, moreover, why there may be bet-
of defense of any living being against important physiological phenomena, such ter options available today. During the Middle
harm, and by using religious dogma and as the electrical impedance of acupuncture Ages and Renaissance period of Europe, as well as
mysticism to justify and maintain such points, some of these devices are no more in China during the same time, physicians used
suppression. With a whole population of than expensive electronic dowsing ma- heavy metals to treat a variety of pernicious ill-
such semi-conscious people who have chines, containing electrical circuitry of no nesses such as syphilis and severe acute febrile
learned to suppress their own natural greater sophistication than a 10-dollar conditions. [b6] On average, people did not live
instincts and body sensations for fear of hardware-store multimeter. Such devices nearly as long as they do now in modern industri-
ridicule by authority figures, all obstacles are similar in principle and function to the alized countries, and the concern over long-term
have been removed for inflicting iatro- pendulums carried by some dowsers, or side effects was either not recognized or was ig-
genic medical care, an ersatz food supply Ouija boards, which rely upon minute nored because of generally short life spans. In
lacking nutrients, and a toxic environ- movements and tremors of the hand to addition, safer methods, such as penicillin injec-
ment that is unpleasant and ultimately reflect back to the person or persons their tions for syphilis, had not been discovered. For a
deadly. The inevitable bottled-up emo- subconscious impressions or desires. The modern TCM herbalist to administer arsenic to a
tional outrage that the population would scientific and clinical validity, or lack client with syphilis would be unforgivable consid-
ordinarily express toward the perpetrators thereof, of such devices is not at issue here; ering the serious long term side effects, yet heavy
of such misery is instead channeled into I've personally investigated acupuncture- metal (mercury, arsenic, lead, etc.) preparations
consumerism, mindless entertainments, point impedance measurements and be- are listed in many books of Chinese materia
and contrived warfare and environmental lieve this subject worthy of study. [b4] It medica. Many of these books fail to emphasize
destruction of such magnitude as to en- would also be improper to dismiss the that these preparations are included for historical
danger not only the health but the lives of realm of parapsychological influences with- interest and completeness, and should no longer
a majority of the world's inhabitants. [b2] out further investigation. What is of con- be used in all but the most exceptional circum-
cern is that many practitioners use such stances.
The politically correct religion of the day devices with religious-like devotion, as if
is a hybridized beast comprising a belief consulting the Oracle at Delphi, and with Certain dogmatically inclined traditional Chinese
in science and technology as the gods of little understanding of scientific issues of herbalists may insist that these heavy-metal prepa-
the future, with mammon and a bland repeatability, accuracy, statistical variation, rations are OK simply because the ancient mas-
New-Age belief in positive thinking fol- and susceptibility to subjective influences. ters list them in their texts. Such attitudes are
lowing in close competition, the latter For example, I've witnessed a number of striking for their simple-minded faith in ancient
manifesting as a Prozac-facilitated ability devices that measure the conductance masters and lack of historical perspective. Rather
May 2006 Issue
Page 9

(Continued from page 8) in a predictable array of side effects; subse- of a traditional belief that these would enhance
quently, an entire line of new products can the action of the product) and pharmaceutical
than perceive science and medicine as an be designed and marketed to counteract drugs such as analgesics, antihistamines, antibiot-
evolution and devolution of ideas, the these side effects. ics, aspirin, acetaminophen, caffeine, phenflura-
archaist-fundamentalist grasps for that mine, and a range of other drugs for arthritis,
indeterminate past time where great mas- While this is a tactic that one can only insomnia, and hypertension; in many cases these
ters were all-knowing and the world was speculate upon, the amount of circumstan- adulterants were not listed on the product label.
tidy. Periods of overall cultural decline are tial evidence has led several authors to [e6, e7] I know of individuals who have acquired
reflected in the scientific world by an comment upon this possibility. [e1, e2, e3] heavy metal toxicity from herbal products from
increasingly slavish devotion to ancient Without doubt, the numerous side effects both India and China, where heavy metal com-
dogmas, whereas periods of cultural ad- of many pharmaceutical drugs often lead pounds have been traditionally included in cer-
vancement promote scientific and intel- to chronic iatrogenic illnesses unrelated to tain herbal formulas [e8, e9], and of individuals
lectual expansion by means of vigorous the initial complaint that brought the who suffered from symptoms of corticosteroid
and often heated debates. In such peri- patient in for a medical consultation. The withdrawal after stopping certain patent formulas
ods, the old masters are admired for their rapid-fire listing of potential side effects on for arthritis. During the late 1990's many Ameri-
wisdom, but their theories are improved television drug commercials has become a can distributors became aware of these problems,
and modified without apology. source of black humor. It is also undeni- and acted responsibly to remove these products
able that such side effects create future from the American market; many distributors
In summary, regardless of whether one's opportunities for profit if yet more drugs now routinely test for a wide range of contami-
religious biases fall within the realm of are designed to alleviate these side effects, nants, including pesticides, heavy metals, adulter-
politically correct materialistic scientism, ad nauseum. Whether this results from a ant drugs, and molds and bacteria. Whole dried
or adhere to more ancient forms and planned strategy can only be the subject of Chinese herbs, in contrast to the Chinese patent
dogmas, such beliefs can be potent mar- speculation, but the devastating effects to medicines, have had a much better track record,
keting tools, robbing people of their com- naive and trusting patients are the same, and are known for their purity and quality. [e6]
mon sense, their pocketbooks, and some- regardless. I've been informed privately by
times their health. hospital pharmacists and other medical In Belgium in 1993, persistent misuse of the herb
personnel that many hospitals maintain aristolochia at a medical weight loss clinic re-
Acquire testimonials from their own private formularies of acceptable sulted in a major worldwide scandal leading to
drugs, because, among other reasons, it is prohibitions or warnings regarding herbs that
true believers. also recognized that the FDA approval were either suspected of containing aristolochia
process often fails to screen out unaccepta- or one of its constituent chemicals, aristolochic
Tactic: Seek out testimonials from indi- bly toxic and ineffective medications. acid, or were similar in name. [e10, e11, e12]
vidual users. Even if a product is relatively Aristolochic acid is a known nephrotoxin, which
inactive, the placebo effect and the work- Those familiar with the writings of Mac- is also known to induce kidney cancer in some
ings of probability among a large group chiavelli and Sun Tzu [e4, e5] understand cases. The clinic attempted to create a weight loss
will usually yield a few people who that in former times, deception, venality, protocol which included potent diuretic herbs as
achieve "miraculous" effects. corruption, and sabotage were considered well as stimulants and the now banned drug
standard practices of business and of war- phenfluramine. The resulting deaths and injuries
Testimonials of product effectiveness are fare; the average citizen understood and from kidney failure were blamed on the Aris-
a time-tested method for extending the accepted this with resignation. These tac- tolochia rather than on the use of the drug phen-
marketing life of a product whose benefits tics are just as important to modern busi- fluramine or any of the other numerous question-
are questionable or are overly general. ness and warfare, but the difference lies in able factors in this incident [e13]:
This method is an extension of the tactic the trusting and gullible natures of the
to utilize religion - the true believer is modern public in believing that corpora- • The overall weight-loss program was not
more certain of his beliefs when sur- tions and government exist solely to make designed or administered according to traditional
rounded by fellow true believers. healthful products for them to consume; standards of Chinese herbology and ignored tradi-
the typical modern citizen reacts with patri- tional cautionary warnings.
Testimonials are an important counter- otic indignation if one questions the verac-
balancing influence to the negative im- ity of television talking heads.
pact that overly generalized claims have
• The aristolochia was administered orally in
Producing toxic and dangerous products is the form of a powder rather than the traditional
on consumer satisfaction. A significant
percentage of consumers who otherwise no monopoly of the pharmaceutical indus- method of decocting (cooking) in water: it is
try. Certain TCM herbal product manufac- known that aristolochic acid is insoluble in water,
might give up in frustration of not find-
turers in China have not had a clean track- which is possibly one reason why there have never
ing what they need, will be motivated to
record regarding product safety or con- been reported problems with this herb until this
continue buying and searching after hear-
tamination issues either. Certain patent incident.
ing inspiring testimonials.
(proprietary pill or capsule) herbal prod-
Maximize side-effects and ucts from China have in the past been • Aristolochia (guang fang ji) was chosen in-
found by the California Health Depart- stead of Stephania tetranda (han fang ji), an herb
create new markets. ment and other organizations to contain a traditionally preferred to Aristolochia for its
range of adulterants and contaminants, greater safety.
Tactic: Design products that barely pass including heavy metals (especially arsenic
FDA or USDA standards and that result and mercury, intentionally added because • Aristolochia was used for long periods of
May 2006 Issue
Page 10

(Continued from page 9) harvests contain due to ubiquitous use of Indian tribes, medicine men possessed an hon-
fluorine-containing pesticides and from ored status within their tribe but were discour-
time in large doses, which violates tradi- other air and water pollutants. [e14, e15] aged from charging for their services. "Beware of
tional Chinese herbal protocol. Soya food products such as tofu were de- IRAB (I Read A Book) Medicine Men who charge
veloped in China after many centuries of money [and] make you suffer while they laugh all
• Aristolochia and Stephania tetranda using the soybean plant solely as a soil the way to the bank..." [e17] Instead, they were
are strong diuretic herbs, not especially nitrogen-fixer; soybeans themselves were supported by the tribe in exchange for their ongo-
appropriate for weight loss unless the known to be an inferior food, unfit for ing role as spiritual leaders and were expected to
individual is also suffering from severe regular consumption. [e14] Due to peri- refrain from profiting by tribal members' illnesses.
edema, and then only for short periods of odic famines, there was great incentive to In ancient China, the wisest doctors were said to
time - a few days or weeks at most. transform almost anything into an edible treat their patients before illness occurred. Conse-
form, and thus tofu and fermented types quently, doctors who had many ill patients were
As it is widely known that a good portion of soya foods such as miso, natto, and considered inferior; during the Zhou Dynasty
of many overweight patients' mass is tempeh were developed. In America, how- doctors were paid annually in proportion to their
stored as water weight, an impressive ever, soya foods are promoted as a "health" cure rates. [e18] In earlier periods, doctors re-
amount of weight can be lost in a short food, in spite of known problems includ- ceived payment for their services only while the
time by diuresis. Even though this proce- ing thyroid toxicity, indigestion and ab- patients remained healthy. The doctor was re-
dure does little to promote lasting results, dominal bloating, hormone disruption, quired by law and custom to treat the patient for
such procedures are often used as a mar- and cancer. [e16] I've known many indi- free until he or she recovered. Each doctor was
keting gimmick to create dramatic results viduals who experience significant symp- also required to display one red lantern outside
for promotional reasons. However, the tom relief upon stopping consumption of their clinic for each patient who died of disease
medical costs to certain patients in this green and black tea and most soya prod- while under the doctor's care; according to tradi-
unfortunate incident included kidney ucts. One cannot assume that just because tional Chinese history, the death penalty applied
failure and death. This tragedy resulted something is sold in a health-food store, to violators of this law. [e19] While such measures
because a group of physicians, who were that it is healthy. may seem extreme, and regardless of whether
unfamiliar with TCM principles, used a such reports are wholly accurate, they do illustrate
potent and dangerous herb in a context Most of the herbs and foods in the TCM the concerns that ancient civilizations had regard-
for which it was never intended in stan- materia medica have been safely used for ing potential abuses by the medical profession
dard TCM practice. Aristolochia is tradi- hundreds of years. However, such safe and clearly demonstrate that such concerns are
tionally indicated for certain types of practice is dependent upon adherence to not merely the rantings of modern-day conspiracy
severe and possibly life-threatening cases traditional rules of common sense, prepar- theorists. That tobacco companies added chemi-
of edema, such as congestive heart failure, ing the herbs according to traditional pro- cals to tobacco to intentionally increase its addic-
which could conceivably justify its use. Its cedures, and attention to whether symp- tive potential should remind us that corporations
use as a weight loss aid by the European toms are improving or not. For example, may succumb to temptation to maximize their
physicians was a misappropriation of a tapioca, a commonly available food prod- profits at the cost of consumers' health by know-
foreign therapy for which they should uct long used throughout the Pacific re- ing, intentional, and highly coordinated schemes
have had greater respect and caution. gion, contains cyanide that must be re- spanning decades. [e20, e21, e22]
Standard TCM materia medica include duced by special preparation. An herb that
very specific indications and contraindica- may be safe when consumed as a tea (water As global megacorporations acquire and absorb
tions that the user ignores at his or her decoction), may not necessarily be safe as pharmaceutical companies, health food busi-
peril. an alcohol tincture or orally consumed nesses and manufacturers, food product manufac-
powder. Even cayenne pepper and tofu turers and distributors, and biotech companies,
Even common foods and culinary herbs can be abused with consequent side ef- the clear distinctions between drugs and health
are not immune to abuse. Green and fects, and it is debatable whether govern- foods will become blurred, and the profit motiva-
black tea and processed soya foods are ment regulation is always the solution to tions of the parent company should lead consum-
being heavily promoted by the health compensate for lack of common sense, as ers to question every product, taking nothing for
food industry, though, unfortunately for discussed under "Lobbying public officials granted. No product is safe from tampering or
many people, these products may result in and non-profit institutions", below. from being promoted in ways that lead to in-
chronic side effects in the amounts that creased illness and debility and increased profits
many people are encouraged to consume. The problems that occur when health-care for corporations.
Health journals commonly focus on the professions and industries recognize the
supposed benefits of drinking tea based tremendous profit potential of iatrogenic Copyright ©2002-2003 by RMH-Publications
on its containing a class of antioxidants illness are not new ones. Ancient cultures Trust; all rights reserved.
called polyphenols; often ignored, how- had evolved various traditions for keeping
their health professionals and medicine (References available in June Issue of this newsletter)
ever, are the extremely high concentra-
tions of fluoride that many modern tea men from temptation. In certain American

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