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Thread: Traditional Chinese Medicines

  1. #1 Traditional Chinese Medicines 
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    Has anyone has done research or tried any traditional chinese medicines to help relieve ailments or symptoms? I'm particularly interested in herbal recipes and I am wondering how potent they are, and if they really do help?

    I've seen people grinding the raw material like plants used for weight loss, into fine powder and encapsulating it with capsules for consumption. Wonder if it works?


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  3. #2  
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    Hey,

    I live in China now and have tried one kind of TCM. I had food-poisoning, and felt terrible in the morning after a night of vomiting and diarrheorh. I drank a small amount of a very bitter and strange tasting black liquid, and I have to say it helped, reducing the painful feelings in my stomach and the dizziness in my head.
    I'll try to find the name if you are interested.


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  4. #3  
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    wow, amazing! could you let me know what it was that you drank? i'm really interested in tcm and am currently working on some herbs to see if they work. =p

    Thank you so much!
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  5. #4  
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    Glad you were interested! :-D

    Are you familiar with Mandarin Chinese at all? I'll give you the pinyin name now, I'll add the Chinese characters tomorrow at work.

    It's called: he4 xiang1 zheng4 qi4 ye4

    Or more simply:

    he xiang zheng qi ye

    (The first version has the tones).

    My friend who gave it to me is from Sichuan, he thinks this medicine may originally be Sichuanese.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    Hey,

    I live in China now and have tried one kind of TCM. I had food-poisoning, and felt terrible in the morning after a night of vomiting and diarrheorh. I drank a small amount of a very bitter and strange tasting black liquid, and I have to say it helped, reducing the painful feelings in my stomach and the dizziness in my head.
    I'll try to find the name if you are interested.
    Anecdotes are not evidence!

    First, self-diagnosed food poisoning may or may not be food poisoning. Second, the symptoms of most ailments tend to peak and then decline (though not necessarily resolve) without intervention. The question you need to answer is, how do you know that the medicine had anything to do with it? How do you know that there's a relationship between the medicine and the symptoms beyond temporal coincidence? How do you discern causation from correlation?
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  7. #6  
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    Traditional Chinese madicines have a lousy track record. Most have not been studied adequately using proper scientific study methods. Those that have often show problems, including severe side effects. Many have been adulterated. Some have been found with heavy metal contamination, or other nasty toxins.

    A number of others have western drugs added to them. These drugs, taken unknowingly, create a serious risk of side effects which, because they are unexpected, may be life threatening.

    If you are interested in alternative medicine, a better source of information (more scientific) is the book by Dr. Shaun Holt, called Complementary Therapies for Cancer.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1007/S00023.htm

    While this is focused on cancer, it has a lot of data on alternative remedies, and points out which ones may have value and which one (the great majority) are total bulldust.

    Relatively few alternative therapies are proven to work. There are some. Honey, for example, applied directly to wounds and ulcers, may kill infection and aid healing. Ginger is a good anti-nausea remedy. Yoga can help relieve stress and stress related disorders.

    Most other 'traditional' and 'alternative' therapies are total crap and are best ignored. They do more harm than good. However, if this topic interests you, then by all means investigate. Just make sure that the data you gain is from proper scientific study, and not simply individual case histories or even someone's intuition.
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  8. #7  
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    I'm sorry it was perceived that I thought my anecdote was hard evidence. My take on the affair was that the potion contained some chemical that helped relieve nausea.

    It reminded me of when I went to a bar one time and the barman gave me a spirit that made me feel less full after I'd eaten too much. No magic, just some chemicals that afford minor physiological relief.
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  9. #8  
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    Russell

    No misunderstanding. I appreciate what you were saying.

    However, may I make one point? Modern medical science does not accept individual case histories as evidence. The reason is because, for any one individual, results can come from so many different causes. A person who is sick may take an alternative therapy and get well. However, the result is often because sick people rather frequently get well! Or the 'getting well' bit may be entirely delusional.

    You used the example of food poisoning, in which you took a traditional remedy, and felt better. I have had food poisoning several times, and I know that it is always just a matter of time till I start to get better. Without proper scientific controls, you have no way of knowing if the traditional remedy worked, or you just convinced yourself it worked, or if you were just getting better in the normal way.

    The gold standard in medical research is the double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, clinical trial. And even then, a single trial is insufficient. To be sure of a remedy, it must be demonstrated to work by a series of such trials. The problem with alternative remedies is that few have been tested properly. The result is that we have large numbers of alternative practitioners touting their remedies, and no credible evidence. Individual case histories are not credible evidence.
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    I'm totally with you

    I get quite annoyed with people who denigrate modern medicine. The double-blind experiment is the gold standard.

    I suppose my acceptance of the medicine as working was a little naive.
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    TCM is also responsible for endangered species around the world. Like all alternative medicine, TCM is primarily reliant on the placebo effect. Very little if anything in the alternative world will pass double or triple blind studies.

    Funny thing is, no one seems to care what takes place when someone has a placebo reaction to alternative medicines. Instead of taking out the medicines and focusing on the placebo effect they continue to promote gimmick supplements, herbs and gadgets as having healing properties.

    If a placebo effect can result from a sugar pill it is clearly not the pill making the change. Also consider the fact that even drugs can cause a placebo effect. It really has nothing to do with the product of pills.

    In a nutshell, we have more control over our immune system than science gives us credit for and the placebo effect proves this true. Your immune system can cure any disease if you learn to control it and use it.
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  12. #11  
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    Bleep

    Your faith in the placebo effect is a bit misplaced. This effect has major limits. It is useful for controlling minor pain and discomfort. However, I have seen little or no evidence that it can affect the immune system.

    This idea has been well researched. For example : in cancer research it has been found that the placebo effect can assist in reducing symptoms, but not increase lifespan. If a cancer patient is going to die in 6 months, taking a placebo will not change that.

    The placebo is at its most powerful when the illness is psychosomatic in nature. When there is a genuine organic cause for an illness, whether infection, cancerous tumour, physical trauma or other, placebos turn out to be of limited value.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Bleep

    Your faith in the placebo effect is a bit misplaced. This effect has major limits. It is useful for controlling minor pain and discomfort. However, I have seen little or no evidence that it can affect the immune system.

    This idea has been well researched. For example : in cancer research it has been found that the placebo effect can assist in reducing symptoms, but not increase lifespan. If a cancer patient is going to die in 6 months, taking a placebo will not change that.

    The placebo is at its most powerful when the illness is psychosomatic in nature. When there is a genuine organic cause for an illness, whether infection, cancerous tumour, physical trauma or other, placebos turn out to be of limited value.
    Scientifically speaking using mainstream science the effect has major limits. But using true science there is no limits to the placebo effect. Mainstream popular science is governed more by money than by scientific laws.

    The placebo effect does not effect the immune system, the immune system creates the placebo effect, matter of fact the term "placebo effect" has no real meaning, just a vague term used to dismiss unexplained immune responses.

    Please understand I am not speaking of reducing symptoms, that is the role of mainstream popular science and medicine, I'm speaking of curing the cause of the signs and symptoms consequently eliminating all signs and symptoms and threat. The immune system is not a treatment or a science it is a system already in place and it just happens to be misunderstood by science but not because science is weak minded but because science is corrupted by greed.

    There is no such thing as a "placebo effect". There are only internal immune responses that are unexplained and consequently dubbed as "placebo effect" and then from then on completely ignored by science.

    I know you some effort into your comment and it surely has mainstream popular science value but in regards to controlling the immune system, medicines explanations or data have no real correlation. The placebo effect is just an example of failing science and medicine.

    I am sorry to sound so cocky and sure of myself but when you know you can consistently take a sick person and have them cured in less than a month and you are fully aware that it is due to the person's own immune system you become pretty confident.

    I can get the results almost 100% of the time, now its up to science to prove it is interested in cures. My results are as pure a science as this world will ever know. The proof is in the pudding.
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  14. #13 Everything is evidence 
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    Hey,

    I live in China now and have tried one kind of TCM. I had food-poisoning, and felt terrible in the morning after a night of vomiting and diarrheorh. I drank a small amount of a very bitter and strange tasting black liquid, and I have to say it helped, reducing the painful feelings in my stomach and the dizziness in my head.
    I'll try to find the name if you are interested.
    Anecdotes are not evidence!

    First, self-diagnosed food poisoning may or may not be food poisoning. Second, the symptoms of most ailments tend to peak and then decline (though not necessarily resolve) without intervention. The question you need to answer is, how do you know that the medicine had anything to do with it? How do you know that there's a relationship between the medicine and the symptoms beyond temporal coincidence? How do you discern causation from correlation?
    I must respectively disagree, anecdotes are evidence, extremely weak evidence but evidence nonetheless. They have an important role in scientific research, as these type of anecdotal "results" are often the basis for more accurate scientific studies and clinical trials. Everything, in regards to science, is potential evidence. The degree of weight we give the evidence in our scientific research, however, should differ greatly.
    After walking through the streets of this world, I swear I will never eat off my shoes again. A quirky scientist like us all www.uncomplicatedscientist.com
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  15. #14  
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    Chinese people have healthy life and reason behind it is that they are too much conscious about the
    choice of their food.. Good food mean good health.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncomplicated Scientist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by russell_c_cook
    Hey,

    I live in China now and have tried one kind of TCM. I had food-poisoning, and felt terrible in the morning after a night of vomiting and diarrheorh. I drank a small amount of a very bitter and strange tasting black liquid, and I have to say it helped, reducing the painful feelings in my stomach and the dizziness in my head.
    I'll try to find the name if you are interested.
    Anecdotes are not evidence!

    First, self-diagnosed food poisoning may or may not be food poisoning. Second, the symptoms of most ailments tend to peak and then decline (though not necessarily resolve) without intervention. The question you need to answer is, how do you know that the medicine had anything to do with it? How do you know that there's a relationship between the medicine and the symptoms beyond temporal coincidence? How do you discern causation from correlation?
    I must respectively disagree, anecdotes are evidence, extremely weak evidence but evidence nonetheless. They have an important role in scientific research, as these type of anecdotal "results" are often the basis for more accurate scientific studies and clinical trials. Everything, in regards to science, is potential evidence. The degree of weight we give the evidence in our scientific research, however, should differ greatly.
    Point conceded. The weakest form of evidence and absolutely not a basis for medical advice.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Errolee View Post
    Chinese people have healthy life and reason behind it is that they are too much conscious about the
    choice of their food.. Good food mean good health.
    Irrelevant advertising link deleted.
    Last edited by TheBiologista; August 6th, 2011 at 07:22 AM. Reason: Irrelevant advertising link deleted.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Bleep

    Your faith in the placebo effect is a bit misplaced. This effect has major limits. It is useful for controlling minor pain and discomfort. However, I have seen little or no evidence that it can affect the immune system.

    This idea has been well researched. For example : in cancer research it has been found that the placebo effect can assist in reducing symptoms, but not increase lifespan. If a cancer patient is going to die in 6 months, taking a placebo will not change that.

    The placebo is at its most powerful when the illness is psychosomatic in nature. When there is a genuine organic cause for an illness, whether infection, cancerous tumour, physical trauma or other, placebos turn out to be of limited value.
    I have to disagree with this. Placebo effect can be INCREDIBLY powerful. A sham surgery (surgical placebo) can significantly lessen the effect of Parkinson's disease, as scientists discovered when they were testing gene therapy with the condition. Homeopathy and hypnotherapy both work with certain people completely resolve their issues, and they are both reliant on placebo. My grandmother went from doctor to world class nut, and she practices both of these. I roll my eyes at her every time she talks about it but she has genuinely helped people. This lady who had cancer and gave up on medical treatment went into remission after visiting her several times. Now whether that was spontaneous or placebo due to what she was doing is another story.

    The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect - YouTube
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  19. #18  
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    I'm not suggesting placebo over conventional medicine by the way, just making the point that the placebo is more effective than skeptic suggests.
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  20. #19  
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    Sometimes. Not reliably at all though.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  21. #20  
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    Well yeah, there is no guarantee that it will work. If there was then it would be conventional medicine.
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  22. #21  
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    Chinese Medicine works. Western medicine is too invasive and does more damage than good.

    --------------------
    "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get"
    kunma@mail.com
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  23. #22  
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    Chinese medicine is mostly pure placebo. This is mostly effective on symptoms. In spite of the fact that some contributors here have a lot of faith in placebo, it has major limits. It cannot and does not affect organic disorders. If a person has a cancerous growth, all the placebos in the world will not give that person so much as one minute of extra life. This has been thoroughly researched, using proper double blind tests.

    Where placebo can be very useful is in reducing the discomfort of symptoms. According to a Scientific American article on the placebo effect, about 30% of the population are highly suggestible, and will respond well to a placebo, as long as the result is on symptoms, not something organic. The other 70% will respond poorly or not at all.

    Occasionally, a herbal remedy, whether Chinese or something else, will prove to have a genuine therapeutic effect. For example : arteminisin came from a Chinese herb, and has now been refined into a potent malaria drug. Quinine came from another herb, as did aspirin, digitalis, and taxol. However, with only a very few herbs being proved to be effective, out of hundreds that are offered by various herbalists, I get very skeptical about herbal remedies.

    Chinese remedies are worse than most herbs. This is for several reasons.
    1. Some are based on products from endangered animals, and the demand is driving species to extinction. eg. Tiger bones. Bear gall.
    2. Analysts discover, with depressing frequency, that Chinese traditional medicines are contaminated deliberately with other substances. This includes potent western drugs (eg impotence herbs with viagra added), and also some highly toxic substances such as arsenic, lead, cadmium etc.
    3. Crimes of dishonesty are rife in China. Herbs are made up supposedly from one plant, but in fact from something else that is cheap and plentiful. The herbal remedy manufacturer makes products for a few cents and sells them for many dollars. Fortunately, they have one thing in common with most herbal remedies, except those deliberately adulterated, in that they are relatively harmless. Like most herbal remedies also, they are useless.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kunma View Post
    Chinese Medicine works. Western medicine is too invasive and does more damage than good.
    The division between western medicine and any other medicine is geographical, and has nothing whatsoever to do with safety and efficacy. Evidence based medicine is sometimes invasive and sometimes does more harm than good. Sometime, it does more good than harm. The neat thing about about evidence based medicine (aka "medicine"), is that those who sell and promote it are obliged to do tests figure out, in hard numbers, how invasive, how harmful and of course, how beneficial, medicines are. Some eastern, "natural" and formerly "alternative" medicines have also undergone this process and are now simply referred to as "medicines" (and others have been labelled as harmful). Many traditional remedies have not undergone this process at all. So whilst it's easy to point to the known harms of evidence-based medicines, we can't point to any evidence- for harm or benefit- in much of what is sold as chinese medicine, or alternative medicines in general.

    Making decisions about health requires good information. Health is far too important to leave to anecdotal evidence or weak, small studies. For the most part TCM fails to meet that basic requirement of simply asking the question "does this do more good than harm?". Your flat assertions about "western medicine" don't change that fact.
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  25. #24  
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    Alternative medicine is neither. It's not real medicne and its not a viable alternative. Placebo effects are a valuable theraputic tool for the relief of symptoms. They are useless for the correction of organic disorders that produce negative symptoms.
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