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0 Thrixspermum centipeda Lour.

Thrixspermum centipeda Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 2: 520 (1790).

Thrixspermum centipeda
Thrixspermum centipeda Lour.; Photo Khue Nguyen Phuc

Vietnamese name: Bạch điểm; Mao tử rít; Mao tử nhện; Lan xương cá.

Chinese Name: 白点兰 bai dian lan

Common Name: The Centipede Thrixspermum - In China Bai Dian Lan

Latin Name: Thrixspermum centipeda Lour.

Family: Orchidaceae

Synonym Name: Aerides arachnites (Blume) Lindl.; Aerides flos-aeris Sw.; Dendrobium auriferum Lindl.; Dendrocolla arachnites Blume ; Epidendrum thrixspermum Raeusch.; Sarcochilus arachnites (Blume) Rchb.f.; Sarcochilus aurifer (Lindl.) Rolfe; Sarcochilus auriferus (Lindl.) Rchb.f.; Sarcochilus centipeda (Lour.) Náves; Sarcochilus hainanensis Rolfe  ; Thrixspermum arachnites (Blume) Rchb.f.; Thrixspermum auriferum (Lindl.) Rchb.f.; Thrixspermum auriferum (Lindl.) Schltr.; Thrixspermum hainanense (Rolfe) Schltr.; Thrixspermum papillosum Carr; Vanda pauciflora Breda


Small orchid, 30-40 cm long stems, many roots. Flower size 2.5 cm, grow on both sides burning, bloom in spring, fragrant but fades in 2-3 days. Flowering: Flowers blooming in Spring.

Distribution: Found in Guangxi, Hainan and Yunnan provinces of China, Hong Kong, the eastern Himalayas, Assam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Penninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra and the Philippines. In Vietnam: Sìn Hồ, Lai Châu, Hương Sơn , Hà Tĩnh, Sa Thầy, Kon Tum, Lâm Đồng, Sông Bé.

Ecological: The tree grows on large trees in evergreen forest, at an altitude of 500-1,400 m

Uses: Cure purulent ear infections, sore throat (Leaves).






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0 Acanthephippium gougahensis

Acanthephippium gougahensis (Guillaumin) Seidenf.; Contr. Revis. Orchid Fl. Cambodia. Laos Vietnam 4 1975.

Acanthephippium gougahensis
Acanthephippium gougahensis

Acanthephippium gougahensis (Guillaumin) Seidenf.Photo Diep Dinh Quang

Vietnamese name: Lan yên ngựa đà lạt

Chinese Name: 中华坛花兰 zhong hua tan hua lan

Common Name: The Gougah Acanthephippium - The Jug Orchid

Latin Name: Acanthephippium gougahensis (Guillaumin) Seidenf.

Family: Orchidaceae

Synonym Name: Acanthephippium odoratum Aver.; Acanthephippium thailandica Seidenf.; Calanthe gougahensis Guillaumin


An orchid with large roots, 8cm high, with root. The leaves are narrow and narrow, 30cm long, 7cm wide, arranged in ribs, stalk 10cm long. Inflorescence in leaf axils. The flowers are 2.5cm large, pale yellow, with red apex on top. The side wing and the base of the lip form a pocket, the tip has a small lip.

Flowering: Flowers blooming in April-May.

Distribution: Found in Thailand, Malaysia, Guangdong province of China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. In Vietnam: Grows in Bidoup National Park, Nui Ba, Da Lat (Lam Dong), Konkakinh National Park (Gia Lai), Chu Yang Sin (Darklak)

Ecological: in shady forests at elevations around 300 to 400 m.

Note: In name Acanthephippium gougahense (Guillaumin) Seidenfaden, Contr. Revis. Orchid Fl. Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam. 4. 1975.






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Many traditional herbs are clinically prescribed by practitioners of traditional medicine under the guidance of theories in traditional medicine, such as TCM in China and Ayurveda in India. This aspect has mostly been ignored by scientists in the field of modern research of herbal medicine for product development, particularly in Western countries. Even in Asia, chemists, biologists, and pharmacologists who have been studying herbal medicine with modern knowledge and technology in labs for many years rarely know enough about theories that guide the applications of herbal treatments in the clinic. One of the reasons is that such study is more challenging.

Traditional herbs might treat a disease in a way different from known modern drugs. Take TCM as an example. A disease can be divided into several “zhengs” based on TCM differentiation. “Zheng” is a Chinese word that is similar in meaning to English symptoms or signs. For example, there is “cold zheng,” “hot zheng,” “internal zheng,” “external zheng,” “excessive zheng,” “deficient zheng,” “yin zheng,” “yang zheng,” “damp zheng,” and “bi zheng” (bi means blocked). Different herbs may be used on different patients with same disease but different zhengs. Sometimes, no animal models can be found to match these zhengs for PD study of herbs that are clinically used for treatment of certain types of zhengs. Thus, a new model with a particular zheng has to be established first. To do this, scientists have to be knowledgeable in both traditional and modern medicines. Otherwise, the study results are not reliable. Up to now, Chinese scientists have found out the biological and pathological foundation for most of the zhengs in TCM and established many animal models for pharmacological study of herbal medicine.9

Theories of traditional medicines, such as TCM, cover etiology, pathology, diagnosis, and treatment. Study of these theories can not only help us to explore the mechanisms of herbal treatment, but also help scientists explore possible new etiology and pathology for diseases whose causes are still unknown in modern medicine, thus providing new directions for drug development. For such purposes, a variety of in vitro bioassays on different receptors, enzymes, and other targets and in vivo animal pharmacological tests should be performed on herbs—not only individual ones, but also herbal formulas.

For example, clinical practice has confirmed that Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan (Cinnamomi and poria composition), a Chinese herbal formula composed of five Chinese herbs, is very effective in decreasing or eliminating uterine fibroids when their diameter is less than 5cm. This has been confirmed by comparing ultrasound exam results before and after the treatment in the clinic and by pharmacological study on rats. The uterine fibroids are usually removed by surgery in modern medicine if they cause severe abnormal bleeding or if they are too big. Quite often, the uterus will be removed together with the fibroids in order to prevent the regrowth of fibroids in the uterus at a later date. The Chinese formula can not only stop abnormal bleeding and decrease and eliminate the fibroid, but also prevent the regrowth of the fibroid because it regulates the imbalance of the hormones, the cause of fibroid growth. Female hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, are known to be related to stimulation of fibroids. TCM considers fibroid formation to be related to accumulation of stagnated blood (called “yu zheng”). Therefore, herbs that invigorate blood circulation are added to the formula. Combining the knowledge about formation of uterine fibroids in modern medicine and TCM, the mechanism of herbal treatment can be explained by chemical, biological, and pharmacological study. To study the treatment mechanism of the formula, not only in vitro assays and in vivo animal tests related to hormone regulation should be performed; those involved in blood circulation should also be carried out.

Research on traditional herbal medicine should be performed on the basis of clinical application and reference to the corresponding theories in each system. The main systems of traditional medicine from different countries will be briefly introduced in Section 1.5. TCM is mentioned below only as an example.

The application of traditional Chinese herbs is not as simple as Western drugs in that not all doctors prescribe the same medicines for the same disease. Quite often in TCM, one herbal formula consisting of several Chinese herbs (most often 5 to 15) is used for different diseases. On the other hand, one disease can be treated with different formulas by different doctors. For example, if an herb is unavailable, experienced Chinese doctors can easily modify a formula by replacing one or two herbs to give similar treatment results. This makes research scientists perplexed and frustrated because explanations by clinical doctors using terminology of TCM are sometimes difficult to understand. Due to the current meticulous division of research areas and a limited amount of energy, most scientists focus on indepth study in one field, and have no time to spend on other areas that are not closely related to their research. Even to those familiar with both TCM and modern science, if the knowledge on both sides is not extensive, it is still difficult for them to scientifically explain TCM theories with simple modern medicinal terms.

Many patients turn to TCM treatment after they have tried treatment with Western medicines with no effect. Chinese herbal formulas work better than Western drugs for many diseases, not only chronic ones caused by stress, but also on acute infections such as SARS and the H1N1 flu virus. However, research results show that effects of the components isolated from these herbs are mostly less than those of current Western drugs. Thus the question arises: Why or how are the effects of these formulas better?

According to the experimental results, the answer is definitely not the placebo

effect. The following might explain the reason.

1.    Chinese herbs in a formula can work on different targets, that is, on different receptors and enzymes or other substances in the human body and stimulate the functions of nervous, circulatory, endocrine, immune, digestive, and other systems simultaneously. This is why TCM is a holistic medical system.

2.    TCM emphasizes the protection of the digestive function as well as regulation of qi (pronounced “chee”) and blood (details about the definition and explanation of qi and the importance of regulation of qi and blood in TCM will be given in Chapter 10). TCM believes that a good digestive system will guarantee an effective supply of essential nutrients from foods to the human body. It also believes that blocked qi and blood circulation may cause hundreds of types of diseases. For treatment of chronic diseases with Chinese herbs, there are always herbs that improve blood circulation in the formulas; if the patient has a digestion problem together with other symptoms, herbs that regulate the digestive system are usually given first. These actually emphasize the importance of maintaining cell functions with enough nutrients and excluding metabolites in a timely manner through functional blood circulation.

Scientists are currently trying to find out the relationship of mutant genes as causes of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But what are the main causes of the gene mutations? According to TCM, I would propose that the main cause of such diseases or aging is probably poor capillary blood circulation, which can be caused not only by the fats we eat, but also by the accumulation of metabolites from cells or dead cells. My reasoning is based not only on the above TCM theories and my clinical application of Chinese herbs, but also on the confirmation that the disease of agerelated macular degeneration (AMD) is pathologically related to the accumulation of aging retina in the photoreceptor outer segment membrane,18 part of a research program I performed when I worked as a postdoctoral scientist in the group of Professor Koji Nakanishi from Columbia University. No doubt, further experimentation is required.

Soure: Traditional Herbal Medicine Research Methods, Edited by Willow J.H. Liu Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


9. Chen, Q. (2006) Pharmacological Research Methodology of Chinese Medicine (2nd ed.), Beijing, People’s Health Publishing House.

10. State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (1999) Zhong Hua Ben Cao. Shanghai, Shanghai Science and Technology Publisher.

11. Arlt, V.M., et al. (2002) Aristolochic acid as a probable human cancer hazard in herbal remedies: a review. Mutagenesis 17(4):265–277.

12. Debelle, F.D., et al. (2008) Aristolochic acid nephropathy: a worldwide problem. Kidney International 74(2):158–169.

13. Schmeiser, H.H., et al. (2009) Chemical and molecular basis of the carcinogenicity of Aristolochia plants. Current Opinion in Drug Discovery & Development 12(1):141–148.

14. Woelkart, K., et al. (2008) Pharmacokinetics of the main alkamides after administration of three different Echinacea purpurea preparations in humans. Planta Medica 74(6):651–656.

15. Bhattaram, V.A., et al. (2002) Pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of herbal medicinal products. Phytomedicine Suppl. 3:1–33.

16. Zhang, L., et al. (2005) Advances in clinical pharmacokinetics of herbal medicines. Journal of US–China Medical Science 2(6):59–72.

17. Clement, Y.N. (2009) Factors affecting the pharmacokinetics of herbal preparations and their impact on the outcome of clinical trials. Focus Alternative Complementary Therapies 14(2):87–91.

18. Liu, J.H., et al. (2000) The biosynthesis of A2E, a fluorophore of aging retina, involves the formation of the precursor, A2-PE, in the photoreceptor outer segment membrane. Journal of Biological Chemistry 275(38):29354–29360
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Before starting research on herbal medicines, researchers should carefully search for literature that is related to the study. After reviewing the literature, they should develop a research plan by writing a detailed procedure design. The following common mistakes should be avoided.
1. Starting preparations of samples without identification of herbal materials.

For many reasons, substituted or adulterated herbal medicines are often seen in the markets. Sometimes they are not easily distinguished from the right material with the naked eye.

2. Starting biological or pharmacological experiments without chemical identification and standardization of samples.

I recall that one day an American friend showed me a bag containing an herbal product. The label on the bag said: No chemicals, all natural. This can lead to a popular misconception among consumers. But as scientists, we should know that chemicals are the fundamental substances of biological activities of herbal medicines, and nature is made up of chemicals. Therefore, chemical identification and standardization must be the primary step in the experiment of modern herbal study. Otherwise, the results are not reliable or accepted.

3. Using the wrong extraction method or solvent, such that the bioactive compounds are not extracted.

Make sure the extraction method will extract the corresponding bioactive compounds. For example, if an extract is for a steroid receptor binding assay, the potential ligands will probably be lipophilic, thus a less polar solvent such as chloroform may be selected. If an extract is for an antivirus experiment, the possible bioactive compounds may be large molecular glycoproteins or polyssacharides; lipophilic solvents or alcohol will not extract them out. The best way is to extract the material with different polar solvents in succession and test them separately in the primary test.

4. Using a dosage for the bioassay or animal test that is too low.

Since the efficacies of bioactive compounds in herbs are relatively weaker than the positive modern drug in most cases, and the concentrations of bioactive compounds are very low in the extract, the negative result of a sample in an assay or animal test may become positive if the concentration of sample is increased. Several dosages at different magnitudes are suggested to prepare for the primary test. Sometimes, the concentration of an herbal extract might be 1000 times higher than that of the positive control. For example, when the estrogenic activity was evaluated for red clover, methanol extract of red clover did not show positive results in the estrogen receptor binding assay until its concentration was increased to 20μg/mL.

5. Having a test period in an animal study or clinical trial that is not of sufficient length.

Because the effects of bioactive compounds in herbs are relatively moderate in comparison with the positive modern drug, it usually takes a longer time to see the positive result of an herbal extract in animal tests. For example, an estrogenic test for synthetic drug candidates on ovariectomized rats may only need a week, but positive results of a red clover extract were not observed until the third week of the experiment.
6. Using samples that vary in composition, leading to unrepeatable results.

Ideally, the same batch of herbal sample solution should be used for the same assay or test. If not, chemical analysis should be performed for different batches of samples by HPLC to avoid variable results caused by inconsistent quality or quantity of compounds in samples.

Soure: Traditional Herbal Medicine Research Methods, Edited by Willow J.H. Liu Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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0 Clinical Studies of Herbal Medicines

1.2.5 Clinical Studies of Herbal Medicines

Anything that exists on the earth has a need for survival. Many traditional herbs have been used on human beings to prevent and treat diseases for hundreds or even thousands of years. The fact should be acknowledged that most of the herbs have been used by countless people. Take Chinese herbal medicine as an example. The efficacies, toxicities, therapeutic and toxic dosages, as well as cautions and contraindications of most herbs have been well recorded in many traditional Chinese herbal books. Although the terminologies used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases in traditional and modern medicines are different, researchers are encouraged to figure out the symptoms described in traditional terminologies for the application of traditional medicine and try to match them to that of modern diseases for scientific clinical trial.

A successful clinical trial depends on accurate scientific design. In comparison to the trial for a single chemical drug, that for an herbal product is more complicated due to the complex composition and difficult quality control of the components. The extract method, the concentrations of the main or bioactive compounds in the products (or the purity of the products), the number and criteria of patients selected, the route and dosage of the administration, the period of the trial, and the method to collect and process the data will all influence the results of the trial.

Unfortunately, many of the reported results of clinical studies on herbal medicine so far are not reliable due to more or less unscientific design. Quite often, the results of clinical trial for one herbal medicine obtained by different research groups vary significantly. A well-known example is St. John’s Wort. Some reported this herb to have an effect on mild depression; others reported no such effect. Possible reasons have been mentioned in the above paragraph. A difference in any step of the experimental design will affect the result.

To obtain reliable clinical trial results for herbal medicines, double-blind experiments should be applied with enough patients selected, ideally using the standard of clinical trial for new drug development. Of course, budgetary constraints are often a hindrance to carrying out such trials.

Soure: Traditional Herbal Medicine Research Methods, Edited by Willow J.H. Liu Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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