Chinese herbs for menopausal symptoms

You’ve probably heard about the serious concerns raised in recent years regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy and its side effects (cardiovascular risk, cancer risk). There are some traditional alternatives, especially those involving Chinese herbs. These are products from the well-regarded Health Concerns, a US-based company which has developed many of its formulas based on US clinical practice and the precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In particular, the combination of Three Immortals and Coptis Purge Fire has been recommended for menopausal symptoms. See the descriptions on the NYBC website for further details:

Three Immortals. This formula is designed for women undergoing menopause. Particularly crafted for those with menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, headache or migraine, irritability, palpitations, vertigo, tinnitus, depression, insomnia, low back pain, hot palms and soles, and reduced sex drive.

Coptis Purge Fire. In traditional Chinese medicine, this formula is used to treat intense, acute and localized inflammations and skin eruptions, such as herpes outbreaks, PID, tooth abscess. It also is used for “chronic liver fire conditions” as well as hot flashes and constipation associated with illness or high fever. Used with Three Immortals to manage hot flashes.


Chinese herbal combination as sleep aid: HerbSom

NYBC is now stocking HerbSom Capsules (Zhang) a proprietary extract of corydalis root, jujube seeds and schisandra fruit.

Corydalis, known also as jin bu huan, grows in China and has some evidence suggesting it can help people suffering from insomnia to fall asleep.

Jujube seeds, from Zizyphus jujube, has a long use in Chinese medicine for managing insomnia associated with weakness (as defined in that tradition). Subhuti Dharmanand notes “Zizyphus Combination treats weakness fatigue, and distress due to weakness, which causes insomnia.” Zizyphus is the main ingredient of the formula both in terms of the quantity used and its central action for the treatment of deficiency and insomnia, which are the formula’s main indications.

For more information on these herbal components, as well as recommended dosage, see the NYBC entry at


June 24: NYBC 5th Anniversary Birthday Party!


New York Buyers’ Club Presents:

 “Supplements and Other Smart Strategies for Longer Living”

 A Free Panel Discussion with Experts on Both Eastern and Western Approaches to Treating HIV
DATE: Wednesday June 24th, 7:00pm – 10:00pm
PLACE: The Center, 208 West 13th Street, New York City


The New York Buyers’ Club (NYBC), a nonprofit nutritional supplements information exchange and purchasing co-op, celebrates its fifth anniversary with a free public forum entitled “Supplements and Other Smart Strategies for Longer Living.” Co-sponsored by Gay City News and POZ magazine, this event promises to be both informative and lively, with panelists including Sunil Pant, the first openly gay Member of Parliament in Nepal and an internationally recognized advocate for people with HIV/AIDS; Tim Horn, President and Editor-in-Chief of; noted NYC physician Paul Bellman, who has specialized in caring for people with HIV since 1986; Ann (“Alex”) Brameier, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist; and George Carter, Director of the Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research and Treatment Director of NYBC. The forum will be moderated by NYBC President Carola Burroughs, who has worked in the field of HIV education for two decades.

Since its inception in 2004, NYBC has been a source of information on alternative and complementary therapies, especially for people with HIV and/or hepatitis (see its comprehensive website at It has also functioned as a buyers’ co-op, making a unique catalog of supplements available to its US and international membership at very low cost. NYBC endorses a holistic approach to health and healing, embracing both traditional bodies of botanical knowledge and modern evidence-based research findings, and in general stressing the need to integrate diet/nutrition, mental health and physical health, appropriate supplementation and standard pharmaceuticals. Like its predecessor DAAIR (Direct Action Alternative Information Resources), NYBC also believes that everyone has the right to actively engage in researching and understanding their healthcare options, and that we all gain by learning to critically evaluate healthcare information provided by the media, the government, “Big Pharma,” or supplement manufacturers.

After statements from the participants and a moderated panel discussion, the floor will be open for a Q&A session, followed by champagne (or cider) and cupcakes in celebration of New York Buyers’ Club’s fifth anniversary.

Supplements and Other Smart Strategies for Longer Living
Wednesday June 24th, 7:00pm – 10:00pm
The Center, 208 West 13th Street, New York City

Meet the Panelists:

Guest of Honor Sunil Babu Pant is the first openly gay Member of the Constituent Assembly (Parliament) of Nepal, and the Founder and Director of the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), a community-based organization that has worked for the rights of sexual minorities and people with HIV since 2001. BDS played an active role in Nepal’s transition from a conservative (and homophobic) monarchy to a federal republic in 2006-7, and subsequently has been successful in several advocacy campaigns, including the effort to legalize gay marriage, making Nepal the first Asian country to do so. Now counting more than 150,000 members, BDS continues to provide care and support to Nepalis with HIV/AIDS, while also working to reduce stigma and discrimination against the Himalayan nation’s sexual minorities. In 2007, BDS received the Felipa de Souza award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which called it “one of the most effective human rights groups in the world.”

Paul Curtis Bellman, MD is a physician whose private practice in Greenwich Village, New York, has specialized in caring for HIV-positive patients since 1986. Dr. Bellman is a board certified internist and currently an associate attending in the Department of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Manhattan and a senior lecturer in the Department of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. He is a 1982 graduate of the New York University School of Medicine and has been involved in the clinical care of HIV-positive people since the epidemic began. Bellman actively participates in clinical research as well as the clinical practice of HIV medicine.

Ann Brameier, L. Ac. (known by all as Alex) is an herbalist and acupuncturist, licensed in New York since 1992. Certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, she practices an individualized combination of acupuncture, acupressure, tuina and Chinese herbal medicine. Says Brameier: “Combining these modalities can address a myriad of health complaints to achieve a speedier resolution of the patient’s issues than might be achieved by application of only one of these ancient traditions.”

NYBC’s George M. Carter is the Director and Co-Founder of the Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR), and has been an AIDS activist for nearly 20 years. His work has focused on research on the use of integrative, traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine therapies for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, as well as the pathogenesis of HIV disease. Mr. Carter has attended numerous national and international conferences on HIV/AIDS, and has served as a civil society delegate for UNGASS sessions at the United Nations. Mr Carter serves as Treatment Director for New York Buyers’ Club.

Tim Horn is president and editor-in-chief of He has worked as a writer, editor and educator for a number of other AIDS organizations, including Physicians’ Research Network (PRN), the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), the AIDS Treatment Data Network, and the PWA Health Group. Tim is a member of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition and has also done an extensive amount of HIV education and advocacy-related work in Mexico, where he lived for 18 months, and was a founding board member of Aid for AIDS. He has been living with HIV since 1992.

Astragalus extract studied to strengthen immune response to HIV

We’re always fascinated when modern laboratory science identifies mechanisms that help to explain how traditional botanicals work. Here’s an example regarding Astragalus, among the traditional botanicals of Chinese medicine. On this blog you can find several reports of earlier research pointing to this herb’s application to immune support. But according to UCLA investigators who have just published their findings in the Journal of Immunology, an extract of Astragalus also performs a very specific function at the cellular level in support of immune function–and thus may hold special promise for enhancing the effectiveness of HIV treatments.

Here’s a description of the new Astragalus research posted on on Nov. 10, 2008:

When cells reproduce, their DNA gets capped at the ends by long repeated strands of genes called telomeres. Telomeres protect the genes, much like the plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces. Unfortunately, telomeres get shorter every time a cell reproduces, which ultimately causes the cells to become “exhausted” and to stop functioning properly. This occurs naturally as a person ages, but more rapidly in the HIV-fighting CD4 and CD8 cells of people with HIV.

One of the lead researchers in telomeres and HIV, Rita Effros, PhD, and her colleague Steven Russell Fauce, PhD, of the department of pathology at UCLA, had experimented with gene therapy as a way to keep telomeres from shortening. But ultimately the researchers turned to what could potentially be a much less expensive method: an extract from the medicinal plant astragalus.

According to Effros and Fauce, the extract, TAT2, keeps an enzyme called telomerase turned on. CD4s and CD8s can naturally produce telomerase, which helps keep telomeres from shortening, but only for so long. After a cell has divided too many times, the telomerase gene turns off.

In test tube experiments, Effros and Fauce exposed CD4 and CD8 cells collected from HIV-positive patients to TAT2. Not only did the substance slow the shortening of the cells’ telomeres, but it also increased the cells’ production of proteins known to inhibit HIV replication.

While studies of TAT2 have not yet been conducted in people, the authors believe the strategy “could be useful in treating HIV disease, as well as immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to other viral infections associated with chronic diseases or aging.”


The story is being widely reported this week, so you’ll find other accounts as well. We also note that Astragalus has been one of the botanicals stocked by HIV/AIDS buyers’ clubs for years, based both on its use for immune support in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and on a recent wave of scientific interest. (Of course we’d like to have more information on the relationship between the extract employed in the UCLA study and the components of the botanical as it is traditionally harvested and crafted for medicinal use.)

For more information, see other entries under “Astragalus” on this blog, or the NYBC entry:


Hepato-C from Pacific Biologic

Hepato-C is a formula based on Traditional Chinese medicine and modern clinical practice. It is specifically formulated for those with hepatitis C. The manufacturer supplies this extended description of the components and rationale for the creation of the formula:

Hepato-C: Pacific Biologic product description.

See also the NYBC entry on


and the related product from Pacific Biologic,


Digestive/ gastrointestinal support: Vegetarian Enzymes from Douglas Labs; Quiet Digestion from Health Concerns

Here are two approaches for digestive / gastrointestinal support. The first is a combination of digestive enzymes in a vegetarian encapsulation. The second draws on Traditional Chinese Medicine in a formula from Health Concerns.

Vegetarian Enzymes from Douglas Labs, which supplies:

Amylase 4200 D.U. (dextrinizing units)
Protease 12, 500 H.U.T. (hemoglobin units)
Lipase 2400 L.U. (lipase units)
Cellulase 600 C.U.
Suggested dosage: 1-2 tablets three times daily, with meals.

Quiet Digestion (Health Concerns) Each bottle, 90 tablets. Each tablet 750 mg of Poria, Coix, shen chu (a dried mass of wheat flour, fresh aerial parts of Artemisia annua, Xanthium sibiricum, Polygonum hydropiper and water), Magnolia, Angelica, Pueraria, red Atractylodes, Saussurea, Pogostemon, Oryza, Trichosanthes root, Chrysanthemum, halloysite (a mineral product that contains aluminosilicates), citrus, Mentha and malt. Used to reduce gastric distress including pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation, poor appetite; addresses viral or bacterial gastroenteritis as well as motion sickness, hangover and jet lag effects.

Suggested use is 2 tablets taken after meals, 3 times per day; also may be taken between meals or as needed. Chew for best results.

CordySeng – 60 tabs from Health Concerns

Here’s some background information on Cordyseng – 60 tablets, available through the NYBC purchasing co-op.

CordySeng is a Health Concerns formula most often recommended for fatigue associated with chronic illnesses or during recovery from an acute illness or operation; also recommended generally for supporting immune function. The ingredients of HC CordySeng are: a proprietary mix of Cordyceps fruiting body extract, Ganoderma (Reishi) fruiting body, Astragalus root extract, American Ginseng root extract, Licorice root extract, and Ginger rhizome extract.

Suggested Use: One to three tablets 2-3 times per day between meals.

Warnings and cautions: not intended for use by pregnant women. Note that less that 1% of users may notice a Ganoderma allergy, which results in a itchy rash. If this occurs, discontinue.

A note about Health Concerns:

HC was among the first companies to manufacture Chinese herbal products in the United States for practitioners trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most HC products are available in tablet form, which is the preferred method of administration for American patients. HC formulas draw on both Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern biochemistry and have been developed by experienced practitioners such as Dr. Fung Fung, Andrew Gaeddert, Misha Cohen, Bob Flaws, and Jake Fratkin.