The NIH (National Institutes of Health) has awarded funding for the study of the safety, effectiveness, and functions of herbs including Da Suan (garlic), Dang Gui, Qing Hao (Artemisia), Gan Cao (licorice), and Shan Yao (yam). Acupuncturists have used these substances for over a thousand years but now three divisions of the NIH have funded research to better understand the role of these herbs.
The garlic research will map the molecular pathways in which garlic stimulates cell function. Artemisia research will explore its molecular and physiological mechanisms involved in preventing metabolic syndrome which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. The licorice research takes a close look at the impact of licorice on women’s estrogenic hormones. The yam research investigates its effects on bone, uterus, breast tissue, breast cancer metastasis, and brain activity. The medical benefits of these herbs have been utilized by acupuncturists for their patients for over a thousand years. Now, the NIH supports research and documentation as to how such botanicals achieve clinical results.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the National Cancer Institute are taking a closer look to determine the clinical efficacy and mechanisms of action of these Chinese herbs. Five research centers receive the funding and are together known as the Botanical Research Centers (BRC). The research centers are located at Louisiana State University, University of Illinois (Chicago and Urbana-Champaign locations), University of Missouri, and Wake Forest University of Health Sciences. Other partner institutions include Oregon State University, Rutgers University (NJ), University of Colorado Health Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts), John’s Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland), and the Bent Creek Institute (Asheville, North Carolina).