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Home > Newsletters > August 2005 > Recent Research

Recent Research

Review of Herbs for Improving Cognitive Function

Chinese Medicine May Offer Relief for Skin Disorders

Research Indicates Acupuncture May Be Effective for Insomnia

Review of Herbs for Improving Cognitive Function

Howes, M.J. and Houghton, P.J. Plants used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine for improvement of memory and cognitive function. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 75(3):513-27.

In traditional practices of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, numerous plants have been used to treat cognitive disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). An ethnopharmacological approach has provided leads to identifying potential new drugs from plant sources, including those for cognitive disorders. Many drugs currently available in Western medicine were originally isolated from plants, or are derived from templates of compounds isolated from plants. Some anticholinesterase (anti-ChE) alkaloids isolated from plants have been investigated for their potential in the treatment of AD, and are now in clinical use. Galantamine, isolated from several plants including Lycoris radiata Herb, which was used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is licensed in the United Kingdom for the treatment of mild to moderate AD. Various other plant species have shown pharmacological activities relevant to the treatment of cognitive disorders, indicating potential for therapeutic use in disorders such as AD. This article reviews some of the plants and their active constituents that have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and TCM for their reputed cognitive-enhancing or antiageing effects. Plants and their constituents with pharmacological activities that may be relevant for the treatment of cognitive disorders, including enhancement of cholinergic function in the central nervous system (CNS), anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, are discussed.

Chinese Medicine May Offer Relief for Skin Disorders

Chen, C.J. and Yu, H.S. Acupuncture, electrostimulation, and reflex therapy in dermatology. Dermatologic therapy 16(2):87-92.

Acupuncture is an old therapeutic method that includes both needle and nonneedle acupuncture. Nonneedle acupuncture includes moxibustion, cupping, and acupressure. In the field of dermatology, acupuncture has been reported to be beneficial for the treatment of acne, postherpetic neuralgia, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and urticaria. In acupuncture treatment of dermal diseases, both the filiform needle and the cutaneous needle are powerful tools. In the treatment of refractory dermal diseases, cutaneous needle acupuncture is usually followed by cupping to intensify the therapeutic effect. In cases where needle acupuncture is not possible, acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a good alternative. In addition, reflex therapy based on foot reflex areas may also be an alternative. A lack of controlled studies is the main drawback for the methods mentioned above. However, the experiences from experts in this field may offer us new ideas to resolve refractory disorders in dermatology.

Research Indicates Acupuncture May Be Effective for Insomnia

Sok, S.R., et al. Effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia. Journal of Advanced Nursing 44(4):375-84.

Acupuncture therapy, commonly used in clinical practice in Asian cultures, has the potential to produce a positive effect with patients experiencing insomnia. The purpose of this systematic review was to: 1) assess the trends across intervention studies using acupuncture for insomnia from 1975 to 2002; 2) examine dependent variables and 3) evaluate the effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia in older people.
Data were collected from November 2001 to January 2003 from a wide range of electronic databases. Half the studies that met the researchersí criteria had small samples (50 subjects or fewer), which were composed mainly of older women who had a variable duration of insomnia from three days to 34 years. The main methods used to assess outcomes were questionnaires. All the studies reported statistically significant positive results.

The results of this review suggest that acupuncture may be an effective intervention for the relief of insomnia. Further research, using a randomized clinical trial design, is necessary to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture. More work is also needed to promote the long-term therapeutic effects of acupuncture and to compare it with other therapies for insomnia.

This Month's Articles

August, 2005
Volume 3, Number 8

The Health Benefits of Tea

The Yin-Yang Taoist Concept of Food

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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