Tags: TCM

‘Virological penicillin’: Plant MIR2911 directly targets influenza A viruses

In a new study, Chen-Yu Zhang’s group at Nanjing University present an extremely novel finding that a plant microRNA, MIR2911, which is enriched in jinyinhua2honeysuckle, directly targets influenza A viruses IAV including H1N1, H5N1 and H7N9. Drinking of honeysuckle soup can prevent IAV infection and reduce H5N1-induced mice death.

-via ‘Virological penicillin’: Plant MIR2911 directly targets influenza A viruses.

jinyinhuaHoneysuckle – known as Jin Yin Hua  in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a commonly used botanical particularly in the treatment of seasonal illness (colds and flus).  In TCM Jin Yin Hua has several therapeutic actions related to it’s ability to clear heat.  While herbs are usually used in combination rather than singly, each herb will still have representative properties and actions.  Jin Yin Hua’s ability to clear heat is used commonly to treat  febrile disorders, upper respiratory disorders, sores and abscesses due to heat toxins, and diarrhea and dysentery.  A well known formula containing Jin Yin Hua is Yin Qiao San (sometimes spelled Yin Chiao San) – that you may have received from your acupuncturist or seen at a health food store.  This formula has Jin Yin Hua as a primary herb and is traditionally used to treat the early stages of warm disease patterns  – what you may experience as a cold or flu – with symptoms that may include:  slight fever, aversion to cold, slight aversion to wind, sore throat, thirst and cough.  If you feel like you’re catching something and have these symptoms – visit your local licensed acupuncturist and see if Yin Qiao is right for you**!  PS – acupuncture is super effective at the early stages of seasonal illness – if you think you are coming down with something, come on in.  There’s lots we can do to help you get through it faster and with less intense symptoms.  If you’re not sick, come on in and make sure all your systems are go!

 **Please be aware that not all colds and/or flus will present this way and Yin Qiao San may NOT be the best formula for you – it is important that you are assessed by a licensed practitioner**


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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Full text | Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

“The use of acupuncture is associated with significant reductions in pain intensity, improvement in functional mobility and quality of life.” -via BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Full text | Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.


“In this systematic review, we found acupuncture administered to adults with osteoarthritis to be associated with a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity, improved functional mobility and improved health-related quality of life. Reductions in pain were greater in trials with longer intervention periods. Though under-reported and inconsistently described, major adverse events with acupuncture were not reported. Subgroup analyses suggest that acupuncture is most effective for reducing osteoarthritic pain when administered for more than four weeks. Outcome assessment for the majority of trials occurred immediately following the intervention period and thus the durability of treatment effects are unknown.” -via BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Full text | Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

I see and treat all sorts of pain every day in the clinic.  Time and time again people find acupuncture and TCM to be a wonderful way to manage their pain.  Some injuries and some pains completely resolve with minimal treatment (even after sticking around for years), where others don’t ever totally go away, but patients report less pain, more function and a better quality of life when they receive on-going care.  In my experience osteoarthritis falls into this category.  Generally once we bring the pain down to manageable levels, patients do well with semi-regular care – and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see patients who had given up on their favorite activities return to them with minimal discomfort.



NIH VideoCast – The acupuncture trials from Germany – What do they tell us about efficacy, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and safety?

Have an hour? Check out what the NIH has to say about the acupuncture trials from Germany:

via NIH VideoCast – The acupuncture trials from Germany – What do they tell us about efficacy, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and safety?.

Acupuncture not working for you? It could be your coffee habit.

Even though acupuncture usually works well for you – do you sometimes find that a treatment may not give you the pain relief you were hoping for?  There are lots of possible reasons why, but your caffeine intake could be part of it.


In this study Caffeine inhibits analgesic effect of acupuncture – from The Journal of Chinese Medicine, the researchers found that both acute and chronic caffeine administration could reverse acupuncture’s pain relieving effect.  In the animal model studied, a dose of caffeine immediately preceding acupuncture as well as a daily intake  of 70mg/kg/day (average daily dose in Western countries) for 8 days, both negated the acupuncture -induced analgesia.

What does this mean for you? While this was an animal study, it does raise the question of caffeine consumption and beneficial outcomes in clinical practice.

Coffee (and caffeine in general) consumption can be a touchy subject in clinic.  I often work with patients in pain or dealing with insomnia, anxiety or digestive complaints.  Caffeine can negatively affect every one of those conditions – so reducing or eliminating coffee often becomes a topic of conversation.  A difficult topic – people are really attached to their coffee.  Don’t get me wrong.  I happen to love coffee. I’m not here to demonize it (or worship it for that matter).  But, I also find it enlightening to take a little break from it every now and then and watch what changes.

From observation of patients who come having just consumed coffee, I find they generally have a less pleasant experience – they are usually a little jumpier, more sensitive to the needles and aren’t able to relax quite as well.  This isn’t surprising if you are at all familiar with the sensations that result after drinking a strong coffee, and it makes sense considering the properties of coffee from a TCM perspective.

The Institute for Traditional Medicine has an excellent article about the history and use of coffee in China and has this to say about coffee’s medicinal properties from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paradigm:

“In sum, coffee dredges the liver to regulate the flow of liver qi, purges the gallbladder, opens the heart orifices, warms the blood circulation, detoxifies, and gently tonifies. However, while coffee dredges the liver qi, it does not necessarily smooth or soothe the liver qi. Therefore, one has to be cautious about the amount consumed and certain individuals will find the otherwise desirable effects distressing: releasing stagnated qi but not regulating its flow. As with other Chinese herbs, coffee would best be used in combination with herbs to moderate and enhance its effects. As an example, peony root (baishao) is often used to “soften” the liver, and smooth the flow of qi. Because coffee is consumed as a flavorful beverage, to pursue such an approach would best be done by having additional herbs taken in a form that wouldn’t alter the taste of the coffee, such as in pills. Excessive amounts of coffee will agitate the liver yang and even stimulate internal wind. Prolonged use of excessive amounts could thereby damage the blood, but for moderate amounts it serves as a valuable therapy for stagnated liver qi, with constricted circulation of blood, and constrained gallbladder function, with constricted elimination of damp and heat.” 
-COFFEE IN CHINA and the Analysis of Coffee According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine

I’m not asking you to give up coffee forever but if you either consume caffeine on a regular basis and/or prior to treatment you may well be setting yourself up for less relief.   If you’re in pain and not getting the results you’d been hoping for, it may be worth laying off the coffee for a bit and giving acupuncture another try!

Have you taken some time off from coffee – have you noticed any changes in your health for better or worse? Share your experience in the comments!