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1.  Chinese herbal recipe versus diclofenac in symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN70292892] 
Background
Duhuo Jisheng Wan (DJW) is perhaps the best known and most widely used Chinese herbal recipe for arthralgia, but the clinical study to verify its efficacy is lacking. The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of DJW versus diclofenac in symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Methods
This study was a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, controlled trial. The 200 patients suffering from OA of the knee, were randomized into the DJW and diclofenac group. The patients were evaluated after a run-in period of one week (week 0) and then weekly during 4 weeks of treatment. The clinical assessments included visual analog scale (VAS) score that assessed pain and stiffness, Lequesne's functional index, time for climbing up 10 steps, as well as physician's and patients' overall opinions on improvement.
Results
Ninety four patients in each group completed the study. In the first few weeks of treatment, the mean changes in some variables (VAS, which assessed walking pain, standing pain and stiffness, as well as Lequesne's functional index) of the DJW group were significantly lower than those of the diclofenac group. Afterwards, these mean changes became no different throughout the study. Most of the physician's and patients' overall opinions on improvement at each time point did not significantly differ between the two groups. Approximately 30% of patients in both groups experienced mild adverse events.
Conclusion
DJW demonstrates clinically comparable efficacy to diclofenac after 4 weeks of treatment. However, the slow onset of action as well as approximately equal rate of adverse events to diclofenac might limit its alternative role in treatment of OA of the knee.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-19
PMCID: PMC539359  PMID: 15588333
2.  Factors associated with herbal use among urban multiethnic primary care patients: a cross-sectional survey 
Background
The use of herbal supplements in the United States has become increasingly popular. The prevalence of herbal use among primary care patients varies in previous studies; the pattern of herbal use among urban racially/ethnically diverse primary care patients has not been widely studied. The primary objectives of this study were to describe the use of herbs by ethnically diverse primary care patients in a large metropolitan area and to examine factors associated with such use. The secondary objective was to investigate perceptions about and patterns of herbal use.
Methods
Data for a cross-sectional survey were collected at primary care practices affiliated with the Southern Primary-care Urban Research Network (SPUR-Net) in Houston, Texas, from September 2002 to March 2003. To participate in the study, patients had to be at least 18 years of age and visiting one of the SPUR-Net clinics for routine, nonacute care. Survey questions were available in both English and Spanish.
Results
A total of 322 patients who had complete information on race/ethnicity were included in the analysis. Overall, 36% of the surveyed patients (n = 322) indicated use of herbs, with wide variability among ethnic groups: 50% of Hispanics, 50% of Asians, 41% of Whites, and 22% of African-Americans. Significant factors associated with an individual's herbal use were ethnicity other than African-American, having an immigrant family history, and reporting herbal use by other family members. About 40% of survey respondents believed that taking prescription medications and herbal medicines together was more effective than taking either alone. One-third of herbal users reported using herbs on a daily basis. More Whites (67%) disclosed their herbal use to their health-care providers than did African-Americans (45%), Hispanics (31%), or Asians (31%).
Conclusions
Racial/ethnic differences in herbal use were apparent among this sample of urban multiethnic adult primary care patients. Associated factors of herbal use were non-African-American ethnicity, immigrant family history, and herbal use among family members. Whereas Hispanics and Asians reported the highest rates of herbal use, they were the least likely to disclose their use to health-care professionals. These findings are important for ensuring medication safety in primary care practices.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-18
PMCID: PMC539258  PMID: 15575960
3.  Effect of 50% ethanolic extract of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry. (clove) on sexual behaviour of normal male rats 
Background
The flower bud of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry. (clove) has been used in Unani medicine since ancient times for the treatment of male sexual disorders. The present study is aimed to investigate the effect of 50% ethanolic extract of clove on general mating behaviour, libido, potency along with its likely gastric ulceration and adverse effects on sexually normal male albino rats.
Methods
The suspension of the extract was administered orally at the dose of 100, 250, and 500 mg / kg, to different groups of male rats (n = 6) once a day for seven days. The female albino rats involved in mating were made receptive by hormonal treatment. The general mating behaviour, libido and potency were determined and compared with the standard reference drug sildenafil citrate. The probable gastric ulceration and adverse effects of the extract were also evaluated.
Results
Oral administration of the extract significantly increased the Mounting Frequency, Intromission Frequency; Intromission Latency, Erections; Quick Flips, Long Flips as well as aggregate of penile reflexes and caused significant reduction in the Mounting Latency and Post Ejaculatory Interval. The most appreciable effect of the extract was observed at the dose of 500 mg/kg. The test drug was also found to be devoid of any conspicuous gastric ulceration and adverse effects.
Conclusion
The results indicated that the 50% ethanolic extract of clove produced a significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats, without any conspicuous gastric ulceration and adverse effects. Thus, the resultant aphrodisiac effectivity of the extract lends support to the claims for its traditional usage in sexual disorders.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-17
PMCID: PMC534794  PMID: 15530165
4.  Protective role of Scoparia dulcis plant extract on brain antioxidant status and lipidperoxidation in STZ diabetic male Wistar rats 
Background
The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of aqueous extract of Scoparia dulcis on the occurrence of oxidative stress in the brain of rats during diabetes by measuring the extent of oxidative damage as well as the status of the antioxidant defense system.
Methods
Aqueous extract of Scoparia dulcis plant was administered orally (200 mg/kg body weight) and the effect of extract on blood glucose, plasma insulin and the levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), hydroperoxides, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and reduced glutathione (GSH) were estimated in streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rats. Glibenclamide was used as standard reference drug.
Results
A significant increase in the activities of plasma insulin, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione-S-transferase and reduced glutathione was observed in brain on treatment with 200 mg/kg body weight of Scoparia dulcis plant extract (SPEt) and glibenclamide for 6 weeks. Both the treated groups showed significant decrease in TBARS and hydroperoxides formation in brain, suggesting its role in protection against lipidperoxidation induced membrane damage.
Conclusions
Since the study of induction of the antioxidant enzymes is considered to be a reliable marker for evaluating the antiperoxidative efficacy of the medicinal plant, these findings suggest a possible antiperoxidative role for Scoparia dulcis plant extract. Hence, in addition to antidiabetic effect, Scoparia dulcis possess antioxidant potential that may be used for therapeutic purposes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-16
PMCID: PMC533881  PMID: 15522116
5.  High sensitivity 1H-NMR spectroscopy of homeopathic remedies made in water 
Background
The efficacy of homeopathy is controversial. Homeopathic remedies are made via iterated shaking and dilution, in ethanol or in water, from a starting substance. Remedies of potency 12 C or higher are ultra-dilute (UD), i.e. contain zero molecules of the starting material. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain how a UD remedy might be different from unprepared solvent. One such hypothesis posits that a remedy contains stable clusters, i.e. localized regions where one or more hydrogen bonds remain fixed on a long time scale. High sensitivity proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has not previously been used to look for evidence of differences between UD remedies and controls.
Methods
Homeopathic remedies made in water were studied via high sensitivity proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A total of 57 remedy samples representing six starting materials and spanning a variety of potencies from 6 C to 10 M were tested along with 46 controls.
Results
By presaturating on the water peak, signals could be reliably detected that represented H-containing species at concentrations as low as 5 μM. There were 35 positions where a discrete signal was seen in one or more of the 103 spectra, which should theoretically have been absent from the spectrum of pure water. Of these 35, fifteen were identified as machine-generated artifacts, eight were identified as trace levels of organic contaminants, and twelve were unexplained. Of the unexplained signals, six were seen in just one spectrum each. None of the artifacts or unexplained signals occurred more frequently in remedies than in controls, using a p < .05 cutoff. Some commercially prepared samples were found to contain traces of one or more of these small organic molecules: ethanol, acetate, formate, methanol, and acetone.
Conclusion
No discrete signals suggesting a difference between remedies and controls were seen, via high sensitivity 1H-NMR spectroscopy. The results failed to support a hypothesis that remedies made in water contain long-lived non-dynamic alterations of the H-bonding pattern of the solvent.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-15
PMCID: PMC534805  PMID: 15518588
6.  Practice patterns of naturopathic physicians: results from a random survey of licensed practitioners in two US States 
Background
Despite the growing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by consumers in the U.S., little is known about the practice of CAM providers. The objective of this study was to describe and compare the practice patterns of naturopathic physicians in Washington State and Connecticut.
Methods
Telephone interviews were conducted with state-wide random samples of licensed naturopathic physicians and data were collected on consecutive patient visits in 1998 and 1999. The main outcome measures were: Sociodemographic, training and practice characteristics of naturopathic physicians; and demographics, reasons for visit, types of treatments, payment source and visit duration for patients.
Result
One hundred and seventy practitioners were interviewed and 99 recorded data on a total of 1817 patient visits. Naturopathic physicians in Washington and Connecticut had similar demographic and practice characteristics. Both the practitioners and their patients were primarily White and female. Almost 75% of all naturopathic visits were for chronic complaints, most frequently fatigue, headache, and back symptoms. Complete blood counts, serum chemistries, lipids panels and stool analyses were ordered for 4% to 10% of visits. All other diagnostic tests were ordered less frequently. The most commonly prescribed naturopathic therapeutics were: botanical medicines (51% of visits in Connecticut, 43% in Washington), vitamins (41% and 43%), minerals (35% and 39%), homeopathy (29% and 19%) and allergy treatments (11% and 13%). The mean visit length was about 40 minutes. Approximately half the visits were paid directly by the patient.
Conclusion
This study provides information that will help other health care providers, patients and policy makers better understand the nature of naturopathic care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-14
PMCID: PMC529271  PMID: 15496231
7.  Harpgophytum procumbens for osteoarthritis and low back pain: A systematic review 
Background
The objective of this review is to determine the effectiveness of Harpagophytum procumbens preparations in the treatment of various forms of musculoskeletal pain.
Methods
Several databases and other sources were searched to identify randomized controlled trials, quasi-randomized controlled trials, and controlled clinical trials testing Harpagophytum preparations in adults suffering from pain due to osteoarthritis or low back pain.
Results
Given the clinical heterogeneity and insufficient data for statistical pooling, trials were described in a narrative way, taking into consideration methodological quality scores. Twelve trials were included with six investigating osteoarthritis (two were identical trials), four low back pain, and three mixed-pain conditions.
Conclusions
There is limited evidence for an ethanolic Harpagophytum extract containing less than <30 mg harpagoside per day in the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. There is moderate evidence of effectiveness for (1) the use of a Harpagophytum powder at 60 mg harpagoside in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the spine, hip and knee; (2) the use of an aqueous Harpagophytum extract at a daily dose of 100 mg harpagoside in the treatment of acute exacerbations of chronic non-specific low back pain; and (3) the use of an aqueous extract of Harpagophytum procumbens at 60 mg harpagoside being non-inferior to 12.5 mg rofecoxib per day for chronic non-specific low-back pain (NSLBP) in the short term. Strong evidence exists for the use of an aqueous Harpagophytum extract at a daily dose equivalent of 50 mg harpagoside in the treatment of acute exacerbations of chronic NSLBP.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-13
PMCID: PMC520753  PMID: 15369596
8.  Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: A pilot double-blind randomized trial [ISRCTN45683816] 
Background
The morbidity and mortality associated with depression are considerable and continue to increase. Depression currently ranks fourth among the major causes of disability worldwide, after lower respiratory infections, prenatal conditions, and HIV/AIDS. Crocus sativus L. is used to treat depression. Many medicinal plants textbooks refer to this indication whereas there is no evidence-based document. Our objective was to compare the efficacy of stigmas of Crocus sativus (saffron) with imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in a 6-week pilot double-blind randomized trial.
Methods
Thirty adult outpatients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition for major depression based on the structured clinical interview for DSM IV participated in the trial. Patients have a baseline Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score of at least 18. In this double-blind, single-center trial, patients were randomly assigned to receive capsule of saffron 30 mg/day (TDS) (Group 1) and capsule of imipramine 100 mg/day (TDS) (Group 2) for a 6-week study.
Results
Saffron at this dose was found to be effective similar to imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (F = 2.91, d.f. = 1, P = 0.09). In the imipramine group anticholinergic effects such as dry mouth and also sedation were observed more often that was predictable.
Conclusion
The main overall finding from this study is that saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. To the best of our knowledge this is the first clinical trial that supports this indication for saffron. A large-scale trial with placebo control is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-12
PMCID: PMC517724  PMID: 15341662
9.  Rubia cordifolia, Fagonia cretica linn and Tinospora cordifolia exert neuroprotection by modulating the antioxidant system in rat hippocampal slices subjected to oxygen glucose deprivation 
Background
The major damaging factor during and after the ischemic/hypoxic insult is the generation of free radicals, which leads to apoptosis, necrosis and ultimately cell death. Rubia cordifolia (RC), Fagonia cretica linn (FC) and Tinospora cordifolia (TC) have been reported to contain a wide variety of antioxidants and have been in use in the eastern system of medicine for various disorders. However, their mechanism of action was largely unknown. We therefore selected these herbs for the present study to test their neuroprotective ability and the associated mechanism in rat hippocampal slices subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD).
Methods
Hippocampal Slices were subjected to OGD (oxygen glucose deprivation) and divided into 3 groups: control, OGD and OGD + drug treated. Cytosolic Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (Cu-Zn SOD), reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), nitric oxide (NO) was measured as nitrite (NO2) in the supernatant and protein assays were performed in the respective groups at various time intervals. EPR was used to establish the antioxidant effect of RC, FC and TC with respect to superoxide anion (O2.-), hydroxyl radicals (. OH), nitric oxide (NO) radical and peroxynitrite anion (ONOO) generated from pyrogallol, menadione, DETA-NO and Sin-1 respectively. RT-PCR was performed for the three groups for GCLC, iNOS, Cu-Zn SOD and GAPDH gene expression.
Results
All the three herbs were effective in elevating the GSH levels, expression of the gamma-glutamylcysteine ligase and Cu-Zn SOD genes. The herbs also exhibited strong free radical scavenging properties against reactive oxygen and nitrogen species as studied by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. In addition all the three herbs significantly diminished the expression of iNOS gene after 48 hours which plays a major role in neuronal injury during hypoxia/ischemia.
Conclusions
RC, FC and TC therefore attenuate oxidative stress mediated cell injury during OGD and exert the above effects at both the cytosolic as well as at gene expression level and may be an effective therapeutic tool against ischemic brain damage.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-11
PMCID: PMC514713  PMID: 15310392
10.  The effect of Fucus vesiculosus, an edible brown seaweed, upon menstrual cycle length and hormonal status in three pre-menopausal women: a case report 
Background
Rates of estrogen-dependent cancers are among the highest in Western countries and lower in the East. These variations may be attributable to differences in dietary exposures such as higher seaweed consumption among Asian populations. The edible brown kelp, Fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack), as well as other brown kelp species, lower plasma cholesterol levels. Since cholesterol is a precursor to sex hormone biosynthesis, kelp consumption may alter circulating sex hormone levels and menstrual cycling patterns. In particular, dietary kelp may be beneficial to women with or at high risk for estrogen-dependent diseases. To test this, bladderwrack was administered to three pre-menopausal women with abnormal menstrual cycling patterns and/or menstrual-related disease histories.
Case Presentation
Intake of bladderwrack was associated with significant increases in menstrual cycle lengths, ranging from an increase of 5.5 to 14 days. In addition, hormone measurements ascertained for one woman revealed significant anti-estrogenic and progestagenic effects following kelp administration. Mean baseline 17β-estradiol levels were reduced from 626 ± 91 to 164 ± 30 pg/ml (P = 0.04) following 700 mg/d, which decreased further to 92.5.0 ± 3.5pg/ml (P = 0.03) with the1.4 g/d dose. Mean baseline progesterone levels rose from 0.58 ± 0.14 to 8.4 ± 2.6 ng/ml with the 700 mg/d dose (P = 0.1), which increased further to 16.8 ± 0.7 ng/ml with the 1.4 g/d dose (P = 0.002).
Conclusions
These pilot data suggest that dietary bladderwrack may prolong the length of the menstrual cycle and exert anti-estrogenic effects in pre-menopausal women. Further, these studies also suggest that seaweed may be another important dietary component apart from soy that is responsible for the reduced risk of estrogen-related cancers observed in Japanese populations. However, these studies will need to be performed in well-controlled clinical trials to confirm these preliminary findings.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-10
PMCID: PMC514561  PMID: 15294021
11.  Complementary and alternative medical therapies for chronic low back pain: What treatments are patients willing to try? 
Background
Although back pain is the most common reason patients use complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies, little is known about the willingness of primary care back pain patients to try these therapies. As part of an effort to refine recruitment strategies for clinical trials, we sought to determine if back pain patients are willing to try acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, meditation, and t'ai chi and to learn about their knowledge of, experience with, and perceptions about each of these therapies.
Methods
We identified English-speaking patients with diagnoses consistent with chronic low back pain using automated visit data from one health care organization in Boston and another in Seattle. We were able to confirm the eligibility status (i.e., current low back pain that had lasted at least 3 months) of 70% of the patients with such diagnoses and all eligible respondents were interviewed.
Results
Except for chiropractic, knowledge about these therapies was low. Chiropractic and massage had been used by the largest fractions of respondents (54% and 38%, respectively), mostly for back pain (45% and 24%, respectively). Among prior users of specific CAM therapies for back pain, massage was rated most helpful. Users of chiropractic reported treatment-related "significant discomfort, pain or harm" more often (23%) than users of other therapies (5–16%). Respondents expected massage would be most helpful (median of 7 on a 0 to 10 scale) and meditation least helpful (median of 3) in relieving their current pain. Most respondents indicated they would be "very likely" to try acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic for their back pain if they did not have to pay out of pocket and their physician thought it was a reasonable treatment option.
Conclusions
Most patients with chronic back pain in our sample were interested in trying therapeutic options that lie outside the conventional medical spectrum. This highlights the need for additional studies evaluating their effectiveness and suggests that researchers conducting clinical trials of these therapies may not have difficulties recruiting patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-9
PMCID: PMC503394  PMID: 15260884
acupuncture; chiropractic; massage; meditation; t'ai chi; low back pain
12.  Protective effect of Arque-Ajeeb on acute experimental diarrhoea in rats 
Background
Diarrhoea is a major health problem for children worldwide, accounting for 5–8 million deaths each year. Arque-Ajeeb (AA) is a compound formulation of Unani medicine. It is reputed for its beneficial effects in the treatment of diarrhoea and cholera, but the claim of its efficacy is yet to be tested. Therefore the present study has been planned to investigate the real efficacy of this drug in rats.
Methods
The effect of Arque-Ajeeb was investigated for antidiarrhoeal activity against charcoal-induced gut transit, serotonin-induced diarrhoea and PGE2-induced small intestine enteropooling in rats. The control, standard and test groups of experimental animals were administered with normal saline (p.o.), diphenoxylate hydrochloride (5 mg/kg, p.o.) and Arque-Ajeeb (0.07 ml and 0.14 ml/kg, p.o.) respectively except the control group of PGE2-induced small intestine enteropooling which received only 5% ethanol in normal saline (i.p.). Charcoal (10 ml/kg, p.o.) and serotonin (600 μg/kg, i.p.) were administered after 30 min, while PGE2 (100 μg/kg, p.o.) was administered immediately afterwards. The distance traveled by charcoal in small intestine was measured after 15 and 30 min of charcoal administration, diarrhoea was observed every 30-min for six hour after serotonin administration and the volume of intestinal fluid was measured after 30 min of PGE2 administration.
Results
Arque-Ajeeb (0.07 ml and 0.14 ml/kg) significantly inhibited the frequency of defaecation and decreased the propulsion of charcoal meal through the gastrointestinal tract, reduced the wetness of faecal droppings in serotonin-induced diarrhoea and also reduced the PGE2-induced small intestine enteropooling.
Conclusion
Arque-Ajeeb may have potential to reduce the diarrhoea in rats. Thus the drug may prove to be an alternate remedy in diarrhoea.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-8
PMCID: PMC481076  PMID: 15238156
13.  Evaluation of toxicity after one-months treatment with Bauhinia forficata decoction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats 
Background
Previous experiments have shown that a decoction of Bauhinia forficata leaves reduces the changes in carbohydrate and protein metabolism that occur in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. In the present investigation, the serum activities of enzymes known to be reliable toxicity markers were monitored in normal and streptozotocin-diabetic rats to discover whether the use of B. forficata decoction has toxic effects on liver, muscle or pancreas tissue or on renal microcirculation.
Methods
An experimental group of normal and streptozotocin-diabetic rats received an aqueous decoction of fresh B. forficata leaves (150 g/L) by mouth for 33 days while a control group of normal and diabetic rats received water for the same length of time. The serum activity of the toxicity markers lactate dehydrogenase, creatine kinase, amylase, angiotensin-converting enzyme and bilirubin were assayed before receiving B. forficata decoction and on day 19 and 33 of treatment.
Results
The toxicity markers in normal and diabetic rats were not altered by the diabetes itself nor by treatment with decoction. Whether or not they received B. forficata decoction the normal rats showed a significant increase in serum amylase activity during the experimental period while there was a tendency for the diabetic rats, both treated and untreated with decoction, to have lower serum amylase activities than the normal rats.
Conclusions
Administration of an aqueous decoction of B. forficata is a potential treatment for diabetes and does not produce toxic effects measurable with the enzyme markers used in our study.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-7
PMCID: PMC446204  PMID: 15186500
Bauhinia forficata; serum enzymes; streptozotocin-diabetic rats; lactate dehydrogenase; bilirubin; creatine kinase; amylase; angiotensin-converting enzyme; extended treatment
14.  Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for chronic pain caused by gonarthrosis: A study protocol of an ongoing multi-centre randomised controlled clinical trial [ISRCTN27450856] 
Background
Controlled clinical trials produced contradictory results with respect to a specific analgesic effect of acupuncture. There is a lack of large multi-centre acupuncture trials. The German Acupuncture Trial represents the largest multi-centre study of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic pain caused by gonarthrosis up to now.
Methods
900 patients will be randomised to three treatment arms. One group receives verum acupuncture, the second sham acupuncture, and the third conservative standard therapy. The trial protocol is described with eligibility criteria, detailed information on the treatment definition, blinding, endpoints, safety evaluation, statistical methods, sample size determination, monitoring, legal aspects, and the current status of the trial.
Discussion
A critical discussion is given regarding the considerations about standardisation of the acupuncture treatment, the choice of the control group, and the blinding of patients and observers.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-6
PMCID: PMC395837  PMID: 15040805
acupuncture; gonarthrosis; randomized clinical trial; protocol
15.  In vitro test of external Qigong 
Background
Practitioners of the alternative medical practice 'external Qigong' generally claim the ability to emit or direct "healing energy" to treat patients. We investigated the ability of experienced Qigong practitioners to enhance the healthy growth of cultured human cells in a series of studies, each following a rigorously designed protocol with randomization, blinding and controls for variability.
Methods
Qigong practitioners directed healing intentionality toward normal brain cell cultures in a basic science laboratory. Qigong treatments were delivered for 20 minutes from a minimum distance of 10 centimeters. Cell proliferation was measured by a standard colony-forming efficiency (CFE) assay and a CFE ratio (CFE for treated samples/CFE for sham samples) was the dependent measure for each experiment.
Results
During a pilot study (8 experiments), a trend of increased cell proliferation in Qigong-treated samples (CFE Qigong/sham ratios > 1.0) was observed (P = 0.162). In a formal study (28 experiments), a similar trend was observed, with Qigong-treated samples showing on average more colony formation than sham samples (P = 0.036). In a replication study (60 experiments), no significant difference between Qigong-treated samples and sham samples was observed (P = 0.465).
Conclusion
We observed an apparent increase in the proliferation of cultured cells following external Qigong treatment by practitioners under strictly controlled conditions, but we did not observe this effect in a replication study. These results suggest the need for more controlled and thorough investigation of external Qigong before scientific validation is claimed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-5
PMCID: PMC387832  PMID: 15102336
Traditional Chinese Medicine; Qi; biofield therapy; bioenergy; systematic negative controls; astrocytes
16.  The effects of ethanol and silymarin treatment during gestation on spatial working memory. 
Background
Using a rat model we have found that the bioflavonoid silymarin (SY) ameliorates some of the negative consequences of in utero exposure to ethanol (EtOH). In the current study our aim was to determine if spatial working memory (SWM) was impaired in offspring whose mothers were maintained on a liquid diet containing EtOH during different gestational weeks. We also determined if SWM was altered with a concomitant administration of SY with EtOH during specific gestational weeks.
Methods
We provided pregnant Fischer/344 rats with liquid diets containing 35% EtOH derived calories (EDC) during specific weeks of the gestational period. A silymarin/phospholipid compound containing 29.8% silybin co-administered with EtOH was also administered during specific weeks of the gestational period. We tested SWM of the offspring with a radial arm maze on postnatal day (PND) 60. After testing the rats were sacrificed and their brains perfused for later analysis.
Results
We observed SWM deficits, as well as a significantly lower brain weight in female offspring born of mothers treated with EtOH during the third week of gestation in comparison to mothers treated during either the first or second weeks of gestation. Rats from any group receiving EtOH in co-administration with SY showed no significant deficits in SWM.
Conclusion
EtOH treatment during the last week of gestation had the greatest impact on SWM. The addition of SY to the EtOH liquid diet appeared to ameliorate the EtOH-induced learning deficits.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-4
PMCID: PMC356922  PMID: 15018621
17.  The prevalence, patterns of usage and people's attitude towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among the Indian community in Chatsworth, South Africa 
Background
The purpose of this study was to determine, among the Indian community of Chatsworth, South Africa, the prevalence and utilisation patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), attitudes associated with CAM use and communication patterns of CAM users with their primary care doctors.
Methods
Face-to-face structured interviews were conducted in Chatsworth, a suburb of Durban in which South Africans of Indian origin predominantly reside. Participants were 200 randomly selected adult English-speaking Indian residents.
Results
The prevalence of CAM usage for period 2000/2001 was 38.5% (95% confidence interval 31.7% to 45.6%). Spiritual healing and herbal/natural medicines, including vitamins were the most common types of CAM used, accounting for 42.8% and 48.1% respectively of overall CAM usage. People used CAM to treat conditions including diabetes mellitus, headaches, arthritis and joint pains, stress, skin disorders, backaches, hypertension and nasal disorders. Half of the CAM users used allopathic medicines concurrently. The cost of CAM utilization over this 1-year period, incurred by 80.5% of users for the duration of therapy for their most troublesome condition was below R500 (approximately US$50). Age, sex, marital status, religion, level of education and income were shown not to influence the use of CAM. Greater than half (51.9%) of CAM users did so either upon the advice of someone they knew, or after noticing a CAM advertisement in the local press. Seventy-nine percent of CAM users indicated that they had positive outcomes with their treatments. Fifty four percent of CAM users (excluding those using spiritual healing only) failed to inform their doctors that they used CAM. The main reason given by half of this group was that informing their doctors did not seem necessary.
Conclusion
The prevalence of CAM in Chatsworth is similar to findings in other parts of the world. Although CAM was used to treat many different ailments, this practice could not be attributed to any particular demographic profile. The majority of CAM users were satisfied with the effects of CAM. Findings support a need for greater integration of allopathic medicine and CAM, as well as improved communication between patients and caregivers regarding CAM usage.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-3
PMCID: PMC356921  PMID: 15018622
18.  Complementary and conventional medicine: a concept map 
Background
Despite the substantive literature from survey research that has accumulated on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States and elsewhere, very little research has been done to assess conceptual domains that CAM and conventional providers would emphasize in CAM survey studies. The objective of this study is to describe and interpret the results of concept mapping with conventional and CAM practitioners from a variety of backgrounds on the topic of CAM.
Methods
Concept mapping, including free sorts, ratings, and multidimensional scaling was used to organize conceptual domains relevant to CAM into a visual "cluster map." The panel consisted of CAM providers, conventional providers, and university faculty, and was convened to help formulate conceptual domains to guide the development of a CAM survey for use with United States military veterans.
Results
Eight conceptual clusters were identified: 1) Self-assessment, Self-care, and Quality of Life; 2) Health Status, Health Behaviors; 3) Self-assessment of Health; 4) Practical/Economic/ Environmental Concerns; 5) Needs Assessment; 6) CAM vs. Conventional Medicine; 7) Knowledge of CAM; and 8) Experience with CAM. The clusters suggest panelists saw interactions between CAM and conventional medicine as a critical component of the current medical landscape.
Conclusions
Concept mapping provided insight into how CAM and conventional providers view the domain of health care, and was shown to be a useful tool in the formulation of CAM-related conceptual domains.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-2
PMCID: PMC356920  PMID: 15018623
19.  Development and validation of a new global well-being outcomes rating scale for integrative medicine research 
Background
Researchers are finding limitations of currently available disease-focused questionnaire tools for outcome studies in complementary and alternative medicine/integrative medicine (CAM/IM).
Methods
Three substudies investigated the new one-item visual analogue Arizona Integrative Outcomes Scale (AIOS), which assesses self-rated global sense of spiritual, social, mental, emotional, and physical well-being over the past 24 hours and the past month. The first study tested the scale's ability to discriminate unhealthy individuals (n = 50) from healthy individuals (n = 50) in a rehabilitation outpatient clinic sample. The second study examined the concurrent validity of the AIOS by comparing ratings of global well-being to degree of psychological distress as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) in undergraduate college students (N = 458). The third study evaluated the relationships between the AIOS and positively- and negatively-valenced tools (Positive and Negative Affect Scale and the Positive States of Mind Scale) in a different sample of undergraduate students (N = 62).
Results
Substudy (i) Rehabilitation patients scored significantly lower than the healthy controls on both forms of the AIOS and a current global health rating. The AIOS 24-hours correlated moderately and significantly with global health (patients r = 0.50; controls r = 0.45). AIOS 1-month correlations with global health were stronger within the controls (patients r = 0.36; controls r = 0.50). Controls (r = 0.64) had a higher correlation between the AIOS 24-hour and 1-month forms than did the patients (r = 0.33), which is consistent with the presumptive improvement in the patients' condition over the previous 30 days in rehabilitation. Substudy (ii) In undergraduate students, AIOS scores were inversely related to distress ratings, as measured by the global severity index on the BSI (rAIOS24h = -0.42, rAIOS1month = -0.40). Substudy (iii) AIOS scores were significantly correlated with positive affect (rAIOS24h = 0.56, rAIOS1month = 0.57) and positive states of mind (rAIOS24h = 0.42, rAIOS1month = 0.45), and inversely correlated with negative affect (rAIOS24h = -0.41, rAIOS1month = -0.59).
Conclusions
The AIOS is able to distinguish relatively sicker from relatively healthier individuals; and correlates in expected directions with a measure of distress and indicators of positive and negative affect and positive states of mind. The AIOS offers a tool for CAM/IM research that extends beyond a disease emphasis.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-1
PMCID: PMC343287  PMID: 14725717
complementary and alternative medicine; well-being; global outcomes; questionnaire; validation; rehabilitation

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