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Research Archive

Welcome to our Chinese medicine and acupuncture research news pages. We add to the content of these pages continuously as more research news comes in. Browse through the complete archive below or use the category links on the right.

Please note that the most twenty recent research archive items are free to view but access to the thousands of items in the archive require a journal subscription.

Edzard Ernst's latest paper on acupuncture continues his endeavours to demonstrate that acupuncture is both more harmful and less effective than is claimed.

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A Canadian study has compared the analgesic effect of conventional (high frequency) and acupuncture-like (low frequency) TENS between a group of opioid-treated patients and a group of opioid-naive patients

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Italian researchers have investigated the ‘dose’ of acupuncture that is necessary to achieve an adequate analgesic effect in patients with cervical myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)

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Hemp Seed Pill (HSP, [Ma Zi Ren Wan]) can improve the symptoms of patients suffering from functional constipation (FC). Researchers from Hong Kong carried out a rigorously designed two-part study to assess the efficacy of HSP in treating FC. In trial

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The Chinese herbal formula Huang Qin Tang (Scutellaria Decoction) reduces the intestinal side-effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients by stimulating gut cell division and reducing inflammation. The four-herb formula (consisting of Scutellariae

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Research carried out by UK scientists suggests that the intensity of de qi has no effect on the pain relief obtained from acupuncture by patients with osteoarthritis (OA).

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Two new studies suggest that acupuncture may have different effects on men and women.

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Beany flavour is a traditional sensory indicator for evaluating the quality of Huang Qi (Astragali Radix). A root with a strong beany flavour is considered to be of good quality in Chinese medicine. A new study from China has linked the beany flav

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Ancient Chinese preparation methods, that involved either soaking and wringing, or pounding and squeezing the fresh herb Qing Hao (Artemesiae Annuaeare Herba) are more effective than the current method of preparing herbal teas from the dried herb for

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Salvianolic acid B (Sal B), a major active component of Dan Shen (Salviae miltiorrhizae Radix) may exert a neuroprotective effect by activating anti-inflammatory pathways in microglia (the resident macrophages of the brain and spinal cord). The resul

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A Hong Kong team has evaluated Twenty Chinese herbs for their antimicrobial activity against four common oral bacteria, using an in vitro assay. Thirteen herbs demonstrated activity against Porphyromonas gingivalis, including Hou Po (Magnoliae Cortex

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Chinese scientists recently performed a comprehensive metabonomic analysis to reveal potential mechanisms of berberine action in the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. Berberine is an alkaloid with a bright yellow color whos

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Metabonomics is an emerging technology that enables rapid in vivo screening of the metabolic responses of living systems to pathophysiological stimuli. It combines the power of high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy with mul

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American scientists have developed a biological method of testing the effects of herbal formulae using a laboratory model based on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This worm shares genes for aging and other traits with humans and other organisms.

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Baicalein is a flavonoid extracted from Huang Qin (Scutellariae Radix) and is found in a wide range of Chinese herbal medicines that have been used historically for their anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-tumor action. Recent Chinese studies

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Bi-Qi capsules, which are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and other osteoarticular diseases, have been found to suppress inflammation via several molecular pathways. The capsules contents include Ma Qian Zi (Strychni Semen), Dang Shen (Codonopsis

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Consumption of ephedra (Ma Huang, Ephedrae Herba) extract has both acute and chronic effects on autonomic nervous activity. Twenty healthy Taiwanese subjects were given 1g of ephedra dry extract or placebo once per day for 14 days in a crossover fash

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A team from Japan has investigated the changes of blood flow in the radial and brachial arteries during acupuncture needling. Eighteen healthy volunteers received manual acupuncture bilaterally at Taichong LIV-3. Blood flow volume decreased significa

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A Norwegian study has investigated changes in the personal and professional use of acupuncture among physicians in Norway between 1994 and 2004. The results showed that the percentage of physicians having used acupuncture for their own complaints had

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A new paper by American authors suggests that the reduced electrical impedances measured at acupuncture meridians are significantly associated with subcutaneous collagenous bands.
Previous research has suggested that acupuncture meridians are ph

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The understanding of how acupuncture’s analgesic effects are mediated has been significantly improved, thanks to a paper from American authors. The team has, for the first time, identified the molecule adenosine as being potentially responsible

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A new version of the STRICTA (Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture) checklist has been published, setting out revised and expanded reporting guidelines for clinical trials of acupuncture. The new STRICTA checklist i

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A single acupuncture treatment can increase isometric quadriceps strength, according to German authors. Thirty-three recreational athletes were randomised to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture (needling at non-acupuncture points) and placebo laser

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The way acupuncturists interact with patients has significant effects on pain reduction. In an American randomised controlled trial, acupuncturists were trained to interact in one of two communication styles that conveyed either 'high' or 'neutral

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The relationship between patients’ expectations of acupuncture and their outcomes may be more complex than previously believed. When US investigators analysed data from a randomised trial of acupuncture for chronic back pain, they found that pre-tr

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American scientists using atomic force microscopy (AFM) have discovered nano-scale fibres in Yunnan Baiyao, the traditional Chinese herbal medicine used to treat wounds. AFM images revealed an abundance of uniform nanofibres, about 25nm in diameter a

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Acupuncture induces objectively measurable anaesthesia on both the treated and untreated sides of the body. In a German study, twenty-four healthy volunteers received three different forms of acupuncture - manual acupuncture, low-frequency electroacu

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Not only does acupuncture enhance immunity, telling subjects that it does so increases the benefit. Sixty healthy volunteers were randomised to receive acupuncture at Quchi L.I.-11 (groups one and two) or relaxation (group three) twice a week for

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Acupuncture that elicits deqi has a deactivating effect on specific areas of the brain associated with pain processing. A UK team has investigated the effect of deqi and acute pain needling sensations on brain fMRI blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD)

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In order to clarify whether acupuncture is more effective than placebo for pain relief, two British authors have combined evidence gathered from systematic reviews of high-quality RCTs that compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture for chronic pain

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Two prospective surveys conducted among different groups of professionals in the UK, including doctors, physiotherapists and practitioners primarily trained in acupuncture, monitored adverse events to acupuncture over a defined period of time. A tota

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Acupuncture significantly increases the concentration of nitric oxide (NO, a key biological signalling molecule involved in vasodilation and neurotransmission) in local body tissues. In a randomised, double-blind, crossover study, 20 volunteers under

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Subtle differences in needle manipulation techniques can affect the cellular response of connective tissue to acupuncture. American researchers subjected subcutaneous tissue samples from mice to varying amounts of bidirectional needle rotation, befor

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A compound extracted from a Chinese herb traditionally used in the treatment of cancer has been shown to have potent neuroprotective activity. Gambogic amide, derived from the resin of the Garcinia hanburryii tree (known as gamboge or tom rong), prov

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Research has shown that the parasympathetic nervous system, and in particular the vagus nerve, plays an important part in the regulation of the immune system. A new review explains the neuroimmunoendocrine mechanisms that underlie this interaction

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Two different imaging methods have provided evidence for the existence of acupuncture channels. In one Chinese study, the optical transport properties along the Pericardium channel path and a parallel non-channel path one centimetre away from it w

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Researchers in China have identified the active ingredients of ‘dragon's blood’, a resin derived from the herb Xue Jie (Draconis Sanguis), which are responsible for its beneficial effects on peptic ulcers and ability to stop bleeding. Twenty-two

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An experimental study has been carried out using fMRI to characterise the nature and cause of the sensations experienced during deqi. Manual acupuncture was performed at Hegu L.I.-4, Zusanli ST-36 and Taichong LIV-3 during fMRI in 42 acupuncture-naiv

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Both deep and superficial needling of acupuncture points appear to elicit similar responses in the brain. Volunteers were needled either superficially or deeply at L.I.-4 Hegu, while their brains underwent fMRI scanning, which calculates the activity

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Japanese researchers have investigated the effect of acupuncture on the human immune system. They measured CD-positive cell counts and cytokine expression levels in the peripheral blood of fifteen healthy volunteers before and after acupuncture, to d

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A qualitative study carried out by researchers at the University of York has investigated the role of self-help advice in traditional acupuncture care. Six acupuncturists were interviewed about the treatments they provided within a pragmatic clinical

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Lack of agreement on the optimal acupuncture treatment for any particular condition makes the negative results of sham controlled trials difficult to interpret and may mean that patients do not receive the best treatment. Researchers from Plymouth

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Chinese researchers have compared the infrared radiation spectra of Neiguan P-6 in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients and healthy volunteers, to see if patients’ acupoints carry distinctive pathological information. A highly sensitive infrare

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An analysis of studies published on acupuncture and myofascial pain therapy demonstrates that acupuncture points and trigger points are anatomically and clinically similar in their uses for treatment of pain disorders. This refutes an earlier stud

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An Australian group has proposed electrodermal activity (EDA) as a possible physiological marker for acupuncture. A group of 60 healthy female volunteers were randomly assigned to an experimental group (acupuncture) or a control group (no acupuncture

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Japanese researchers have investigated whether acupuncture stimulation affects autonomic nerve function by measuring pupil diameters with electronic pupillography. Experiment 1 examined responses before, during and after acupuncture in 12 healthy mal

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In an American study, fifteen healthy subjects were evaluated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) to map the location and timing of brain activity during low-frequency electroacupuncture (EA) and non-penetrating sham acupuncture (SA) using a metal fila

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A US study used fMRI to analyse the effects on the brain of manual acupuncture stimulation at Erjian L.I.-2, a point commonly used to treat xerostomia (dry mouth due to lack of saliva). Twenty healthy volunteers received true and sham acupuncture in

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Studies using fMRI to look at brain activity before and after acupuncture suggest that it is capable of affecting the resting state of the brain in a sustained manner. Stimulation of Neiguan P-6 was carried out for 150 seconds using either verum m

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Expectancy or aversion to acupuncture can complicate evaluation of the efficacy of acupuncture in clinical trials. Korean researchers have investigated whether experimentally manipulating the perception of acupuncture could elicit different responses

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Chinese researchers have demonstrated a brain network associated with the amygdala at rest (part of the default mode network) that encompasses brain structures implicated in pain sensation and modulation. Using fMRI, they have also found that this

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A review from Taiwan gives an overview of the mechanisms by which acupuncture’s analgesic effects are mediated. The authors outline the various mechanisms that appear to be involved in acupuncture analgesia (AA), from early studies investigating

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Korean researchers have reviewed the data regarding possible mechanisms of action of acupuncture in the treatment of drug addiction. They suggest that acupuncture's role in suppressing the reinforcing effects of abused drugs takes place by modulating

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A Korean study exploring brain activation using (fMRI) has compared verum acupuncture to placebo needles. Two fMRI scans were taken, one for verum acupuncture and one for non-penetrating placebo needling at Xingjian LIV-2, on the left foot, in 10 hea

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A double blind randomised controlled study comparing the effects of real and placebo acupuncture on pregnancy rates after assisted reproduction has found placebo acupuncture to be associated with a significantly higher pregnancy rate. In the trial, c

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Acupuncture can improve absorption of baicalin, one of the active components of Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae). Chinese scientists divided twenty rats randomly into two groups. Group A was treated with a combination of oral administration of Scutella

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In Japan, researchers have compared blood volume and oxygenation in regions of the trapezius muscle local to and distant from a site of acupuncture stimulation. By using ear-infrared spectrometer probes, they observed that muscle oxygenation and bloo

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Chinese scientists have investigated how mechanical acupuncture signals received at acupoints are transformed into biological signals. In a study carried out on rats, the role of collagen fibers at acupoints during acupuncture analgesia was investiga

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German investigators have studied the effects of stimulation at the ear-specific acupuncture point Xiaxi GB-43 on the brain’s primary auditory cortex, using fMRI. Twenty healthy volunteers participated in a crossover study, which compared needli

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A Chinese team has  used fMRI to investigate the functional connectivity of brain networks involved in acupuncture. fMRI scans were performed before, during and after acupuncture manipulation at Zusanli ST-36 (previously implicated in a neural p

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American researchers have examined the pain reducing effect of verum manual acupuncture (ACU), compared with that of placebo needling, using a combination of fMRI and PET imaging. Twelve acupuncture-naïve healthy subjects were randomised into a r

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Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) is a popular multi-purpose Chinese medicinal herb traditionally used to treat inflammation, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and bacterial and viral infections. Accumulating evidence is now demonstrating that S

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Charlotte Patterson and colleague have attempted to characterise the diverse nature of patients’ experiences of acupuncture treatment for chronic health problems. They performed a secondary analysis of five longitudinal interview studies using a

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Cell culture experiments carried out by Chinese researchers have revealed an anti-inflammatory action of ginseng (Ren Shen). They identified nine separate compounds called ginsenosides in ginseng extract. By testing the effects of individual ginsenos

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Extracts of the root of Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Qi) have been observed to significantly accelerate cutaneous wound healing. According to a Korean team who observed the process of wound healing at a microscopic level, topically applied Astragal

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Cinnamon extract, which has been used in Chinese medicine to improve blood circulation, can induce angiogenesis (formation of blood vessels). Korean researchers observed the effect of ethanol extract of Cinnamomum cassia (Gui Zhi) on angiogenic proce

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Qualitative analysis of the experiences of patients who underwent placebo treatment as part of the above Harvard IBS trial reveals the complexity of the phenomenon and the effect of taking part in such a study. Almost all subjects reported improvemen

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The quality of patient-practitioner interaction may be important in eliciting a strong placebo response to acupuncture. Harvard researchers performed an analysis of videotape and psychometric data from a clinical trial of patients with irritable bowe

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Patient anxiety could have an important influence on the physiological response to acupuncture and modify physiological outcomes in acupuncture research. Australian researchers studied the influence of acupuncture on the balance between sympatheti

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German researchers have pooled the results of several large trials of acupuncture to evaluate its safety. A total of 229,230 patients received an average of ten acupuncture treatments. Altogether 19,726 patients (8.6%) reported experiencing at least

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Acupuncture can reduce blood lactic acid and enhance recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise, according to Taiwanese scientists. Thirty male university basketball players were randomly assigned to three groups: acupuncture, sham and no treatment.

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An Australian author has presented a new model for acupuncture anaesthesia. According to his hypothesis, C fibre tactile afferent axons bifurcate at acupuncture points and then diverge, running along acupuncture meridians, to subsequently communicate

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German scientists have used infrared thermography to distinguish between the effect of needling Hegu L.I.-4 and sham acupuncture (needling at a non-acupoint). Thermographic imaging was performed on 50 healthy volunteers randomly assigned to four proc

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Electrostimulation of auricular acupuncture points can increase the activity of the vagus nerve, according to the results of a Swiss experiment. Fourteen healthy men participated in four examinations: a no-intervention control, a placebo control and

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The results of a Korean study provide neurobiological evidence for acupoint specificity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain was performed in 12 normal healthy subjects during electro-acupuncture stimulation (EA) of Yanglingquan

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A team from the USA has found that the duration of electro-acupuncture treatment can affect its analgesic effect. Healthy volunteers were randomised to receive 0, 20, 30 or 40 minutes of electro-acupuncture stimulation (alternating 2/100 Hz at 5mA).

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Korean researchers have found evidence that patients randomly assigned to treatment groups in acupuncture trials receive fewer health benefits from treatment than those who were non-randomly assigned. They carried out a systematic review of six parti

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In vivo studies have shown that anti-oxidant phytochemicals from Gou Qi Zi (Lycium barbarum fructus, aka Chinese wolfberry or goji berry) can protect eye tissues from oxidative damage. American researchers studying type-2 diabetic mice observed that

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Extracts of Bu Gu Zhi (Psoralea corylifolia fructus), a plant known as a Kidney yang tonic in Chinese medicine, can increase bone growth in vivo. The plant, whose Chinese name means ‘tonify bone resin’ is considered a common weed in Asia and i

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Antiviral compounds extracted from the foul-smelling herb Ferula assafoetida (Chinese name: A Wei, aka Devil’s Dung) show greater activity against the H1N1 swine flu virus than the drug amantadine. Taiwanese scientists found that the roots of the p

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A review paper from Hong Kong traces the use of Huang Lian (Coptidis rhizoma) from traditional Chinese medicine (CM) to recent pharmacological studies of Huang Lian and its major component, berberine. The modern discovery of anti-cancer effects for H

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Chen Pi (dried tangerine peel) exhibits strong antioxidant and free radical-scavenging activities, which are due to its high content of ascorbic acid and citric acid. Japanese biochemists prepared water and ethanol extracts of Chen Pi and examined th

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American scientists using atomic force microscopy (AFM) have discovered nano-scale fibres in Yunnan Baiyao, the traditional Chinese herbal medicine used to treat wounds. AFM images revealed an abundance of uniform nanofibres, about 25nm in diameter a

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More evidence for the neural specificity of particular acupuncture points comes from a Chinese study that used fMRI to investigate the effects of acupuncture at Neiguan P-6. fMRI was performed on the brains of 36 healthy subjects while they received

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In a study on 16 healthy subjects it was found that Echinacea purpurea, Huang Qi (Astragali Radix) and Gan Cao (Glycyrrhizae Radix) were effective in boosting key blood lymphocytes, the basic building block of the immune system. Echinacea and Gan

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