21st Century Herba & health
Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) have been widely used for thousands of years.
Their preventative and therapeutic efficacies proved by countless people are much
more convincible than results obtained from laboratory and animal experiments. No
one should doubt about this.

Most of the research results on herbs performed by scientists over the world using
modern chemical, biological and pharmacological methods in the past decades all
supported the functions of Chinese herbs. And more and more results coming out
every year are helping explore the therapeutic mechanisms of herbs and acupuncture.

Our inability to well explain some of the mechanisms of herbal therapies currently is
not because herbs are too old, it is because our knowledge about human body and
diseases are still limited so far.
1. People get sick when Yin and Yang become imbalanced or deficient in the body   
2. Holism – the most important TCM fundamental characteristics   
3. Concept of Qi in TCM
4. Importance of Qi and blood circulation
5. Chinese herbs should be used under guide of TCM theory
6. Natural products do not mean unconditionally safe
7. Consulting a licensed specialist before taking herbal products
8. FDA regulation on herbal products

1. People get sick when Yin and Yang become imbalanced or deficient in the body
When the Yin and Yang in your body becomes unbalanced, the external or internal evil Qi (pathogens) will easily attack you and make
you sick. In this situation, your body needs to be tonified, especially when you are getting older. If you frequently feel tired, painful, or
any other uncomfortable, it is the time you need to pay attention. Both acupuncture and herbs can balance the Yin and Yang,
harmonize the organs in your body. The prevention in TCM includes not only preventing the occurrence of diseases, but also the
development or worsening of diseases.

2. Holism – the most important TCM fundamental characteristics
The concept of holism in TCM considers the various parts of the human body as an organic whole, emphasizing the coordination of
the internal organs among each other and the harmony of the human body with the external environment.

TCM believes the human body is a complex network of connections, made up of channels (also called meridians) and collaterals.
Scientific experiments have found that the fundamental structures of the channels and collaterals in TCM are the neuroendocrine-
immune network and circulatory (blood and lymphatic) systems.  These networks not only connect the internal organs, but also
control their functions through Qi and  blood. Through these connection, the dysfunction of an organ may impact the functions of
other organs and tissues. Based on this concept, the treatment with Chinese medicine and acupuncture emphasizes Qi and blood
circulation in the network of channels and collaterals.

3. Concept of Qi in TCM
There are different types of Qi in TCM. According to their definitions of Qi, Qi in TCM refers to both essential substances and
functions that maintain normal function of our body. There are Qi inherited from parents and Qi acquired after born. The acquired Qi
comes from the air and the foods we eat. The ingested foods are mechanically  and chemically digested through stomach and small
intestine and absorbed in small intestine, then processed in liver and turned into essential Qi (substances for cells and energy).
Neurotransmitters, hormones, immune factors, and other cytokines that regulate the functions of all systems, maintain the functions of
cells, and circulated in the blood are all considered as substances of Qi. The function of Qi actually covers functions of nerve,
endocrine and immune systems as well as that of organs and tissues.

4. Importance of Qi and blood circulation
TCM emphasizes maintaining an unobstructed circulation of Qi and blood, as obstructed Qi and blood are considered the cause of
many diseases. The Qi circulating in the network of channels and collaterals. The recent found neuroendocrine-immune network has
provided supportive evidence for the network of channels and collaterrals. As far as we know, thrombosis not only effects coronary
and cerebral arteries, causing  heart attack and stroke,  but also effects pulmonary, portal, renal, hepatic, cerebral, and extremity veins
– causing all kinds of symptoms or diseases.

Modern anatomy studies have showed that >50% of people have narrowed arteries. It is the result of long term chronic accumulation.
The process started since teenagers. In addition, the blood vessels become fragile with age, which may result in stroke caused by
bleeding (hemorrhagic bleeding). Chinese herbs are not only effective on improvement of  blood circulation, but also good at improving
the elasticity of blood vessels.

Circulatory system (including blood and lymphatic systems) delivers nutrients to cells throughout the body, and also carries
metabolized wastes out from tissues and organs. Only unobstructed blood flow can maintain health and quality of life. Cells will die if
not receiving enough nutrients or the wastes accumulating inside.

There are more than 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) in the human brain, composed of the central and peripheral nerve systems. The
nerve systems regulate the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive and eliminative functions, maintain hormone secretion, as well as
control the movement of limbs, language, memory, recognition, thinking, etc. The brain weight is only 2% of the body weight, but it
needs 20% of the total blood supply.

The nerve cells use the nutrients provided from blood to synthesize neurotransmitters which control the regulations mentioned above.
The brain cells can only function well when they receive enough nutrients from the blood. Chronic insomnia, anxiety, poor memory,
tinnitus, depressant, some types of headache, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are all related to blood deficiency in brain.

Keeping circulatory system function well is crucial to prevent diseases and aging!!!  

5. Chinese herbs should be used under guide of TCM theory
Chinese doctors treat patients based on their own diagnostic system. If the diagnosis is  correct, the treatment will be very effective. If
the diagnosis was wrong, the treatment would be ineffective or even make situation worse.

In Western countries, I have heard people saying that herbal medicine is traditional, therefore, the herbal products are non-chemicals
and very safe. Such misconception leads to the misuse of some Chinese herbal extracts such as Ma-huang (Ephedra) and Guang-fang-
ji (Radix aristolochiae fangchi) for weight loss or energy enhancement in the US and Europe. As consequences of the long-term
administration without consulting Chinese doctors, the kidneys or other organs of some consumers were severely damaged due to
over dose and long term administration. Some even died of that. Then people blamed on the herbs. What I want to claim is that the
herbs are innocent, because Chinese herbs are always prescribed by the doctors under the guidance of TCM theory. In fact, Ma-huang
and Fang-ji are never used for the above purposes in TCM.      

6. Natural products do not mean unconditionally safe
All of the materials on the earth are composed of chemical compounds. Herbal product is actually a complex mixture of components.
Even in the first Chinese herbal book
Divine Husbandman's Classic of Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing) written 2000 years
ago, herbs were divided into three categories according to their safety and toxicity. Many Western medicines are actually compounds
separated or derived from natural sources. The purified compounds become much more effective, meanwhile, their toxicities also

The composition of a herbal product decides its efficacy and safety. The efficacy and safety of herbal products not only depend on the
quality of the raw materials, extraction method, but also the applied dose and course.

7. Consulting a licensed specialist before taking herbal products
For thousands of years, Chinese herbal medicines has been always used under the guidance of theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM). The prescription should be provided by a licensed  professional practitioner based on correct TCM diagnosis. However in the
American market, many people buy the products based the advertised information. Here, therefore, I strongly recommend consumers
to consult an expert before taking herbal products from the market if you do not have enough knowledge about them.  

8. FDA regulation on herbal products
FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering "conventional" foods and drug products
(prescription and Over-the-Counter). Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary
supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. FDA is responsible for
taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Generally, manufacturers do not need to
register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements. * Manufacturers must make
sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading.

FDA's post-marketing responsibilities include monitoring safety, e.g. voluntary dietary supplement adverse event reporting, and
product information, such as labeling, claims, package inserts, and accompanying literature. The Federal Trade Commission regulates
dietary supplement advertising.

*Domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States
are required to register their facility with the FDA.

On June 22, 2007, FDA issued Dietary Supplements Final Rule. The regulations establish the cGMP needed to ensure quality
throughout the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and storing of dietary supplements. The final rule includes requirements for
establishing quality control procedures, designing and constructing manufacturing plants, and testing ingredients and the finished
product. It also includes requirements for recordkeeping and handling consumer product complaints.
Website linking:
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Herbal Encyclopedia
Center for Food Safty & Applied Nutrition
Dietary Supplement Overview by FDA
Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994
Herbal and Nutrition Information Center
21st Century
  Herbs & Acupuncture
Dr. Willow J.H. Liu
Dipl. of OMD & Herbology
Acupuncture - Get the fact (NIH-NCCAM)
FDA Dietary Supplements Final Rule
Botanical.com - A Modern Herbal
Copyright © Jan 12, 2014, 21st Century Herbs & Health, Inc.
Dr. Liu welcome you visit to herblog: Natural Medicine Forum
Recent discoveries such as neuro-endo-immune network, the interaction between psychological processes and the
nervous and immune systems (psychoendoneuroimmunology), the relationship of vessel with many diseases
(angiology) , as well as other new research results are providing more and more scientific evidences to support the
TCM theories that guiding the clinical practice of TCM.                                                       - Dr. Willow J.H. Liu
American Association of Chinese Herbs