Chinese blood tonics - time of administration may be important

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism: 04-30-94 6(1):12

Researchers at Guang’anmen Hospital in Beijing administered a traditional Chinese herbal tonic formula to sixty-two patients receiving chemotherapy treatments over a six week period for a variety of carcinomas. Patients were divided into two matched groups. One group received the formula just before breakfast and lunch; the second group received it before lunch and dinner. The group receiving the formula earlier in the day had a statistically lower incidence of leukopenia (lowered white blood cell count), 4 of 31 cases (12.9%), than the group receiving the formula later in the day, 15/31 cases (48.4%) — (P 0.01). The chemotherapy completion rate in the early group was 96.8%. In the later group it was 74.2% — (p < 0.05).

The traditional Chinese formula, Yi Qi Sheng Xue Decoction, had the following recipe:

Radix Astralagi sea Hedysari            60 g

Radix Angelicae sinensis            12 g

Colla Corii Asini                12 g

Caulus Spatholobi                30 g

Folium Pyrrosiae                30 g

Fructus Ziziphi jujubae            12 g

Fructus Hordei germinatus (fresh)        20 g

Pericarpium citri Reticulatae            6 g

Radix Glycyrrhizae                 5g

Up to three other non-tonic herbs were added to the formula of some patients, as needed, to modify nausea and vomiting or abdominal distension.

The formula consists of traditional Chinese Energy (qi)and Blood (xue) tonics. For example, astragalus and angelica are used in combination in traditional Chinese formulas to tonify and invigorate the xue after severe bleeding and for consumptive fatigue. Pyrrosia is used in combination with ziziphus for leukopenia. The authors note that as long ago as the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD) it was recommended that qi and xue tonic combinations be given in the morning and before noon. They further point out that modem research demonstrates that the bone marrow cells, which generate blood, have their highest rate of proliferation from morning to noon. This trial not only demonstrates the blood-strengthening properties of traditional tonic formula, it verifies the traditional observation about the best time to administer them.

Yonghao L, Guiqing Y. “A comparative clinical study on prevention and treatment with selected chronomedication of leukopenia induced by chemotherapy.” Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1993;13(4):257-261
 Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner

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