Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Local Buzz: CUHK research review finds that traditional Chinese medicine may be an effective obesity treatment

A research review compiled by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), published in the May 2012 edition of Obesity Reviews, concludes that Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) and acupuncture may be as effective in treating obesity as their western, pharmaceutical counterparts, with fewer side effects. The study was commissioned by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. Here are some key takeaways from the study:
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that obesity affects almost six percent of Chinas population, and a 2012 report from Johns Hopkins University stated that twenty percent of China's children are overweight.
  • CUHK compiled data from studies (written in Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese) on CHM/acupuncture and weight loss from a total of 12 electronic databases. This research was collected up until the 28th of February, 2012.
  • The report's authors claim that, over a period of four months, use of herbs can result in weight loss of around 5.8 kilograms, while acupuncture can produce a loss of 4.1kg.
  • The herbs most commonly and successfully used for weight loss included "huang quin" (Baical Skullcap root) and "shanzha" (hawthorn fruit)
  • The most effective acupressure points used were those in the ear, aimed at the spleen and the stomach, and the points in the leg known as "Sanyinjiao" (near the ankle) and "Zusanli" (just below the knee)
  • The study's conclusion: "CHM and acupuncture were more effective than placebo or lifestyle modification in reducing body weight. They had a similar efficacy as the Western anti-obesity drugs but with fewer reported adverse effects. However, these conclusions were limited by small sample size and low quality of methodologies."
A large-scale clinical trial is in the works for next January, to further provide evidence for or disprove the conclusions of the CUHK report.

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