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Acupuncture Today – September, 2004, Vol. 05, Issue 09

News in Brief

By Editorial Staff

Taiwan, Netherlands to Collaborate on TCM Research

Officials from Leiden University in the Netherlands and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan have announced the formation of a new project to investigate the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.

Known as the Traditional Chinese Medicine Joint Research Platform, the project will identify the active ingredients in several Chinese plants and develop new methods of production so that the ingredients can be produced in larger quantities.

"Through the TCM Joint Research Platform, we will be able to improve the quality and effectiveness of health care, and merge the best of TCM, Taiwanese commercialization and know-how, and European science," affirmed Dr. Johnsee Lee, president of ITRI. He added that the new alliance would result in "a win-win situation for both Taiwan and the Netherlands."

Most of the research will be carried out at ITRI's Biomedical Engineering Center and at Leiden's Institute of Biology and Institute for Asian Studies. As we go to press, scientists involved in the platform have already begun preliminary research on the properties of ginsenosides, a type of compound found in ginseng. Studies on other plants and their ingredients will be conducted in the near future.

Oscar-Winning Actress Brings Cupping Into the Public Light

When actress Gwyneth Paltrow appeared at a movie premiere in New York this past July, wearing a low-cut dress that revealed several circular bruises on her back and shoulders, the incident drew an extraordinary amount of interest in the U.S. and elsewhere. Reporters in the entertainment industry wondered what had caused the strange-looking marks to appear, and dozens of newspapers published photos of Paltrow (and the marks on her back) at the movie premiere. The day after her appearance, a publicist for Ms. Paltrow informed the press that the marks were not caused by any injury or disease, but were the result of cupping, a procedure related to acupuncture that involves heating glass jars and placing them on the skin to relieve pain and remove toxins.

As a result of the publicity generated by the marks on Paltrow's back, several major news organizations showed an immediate interest in cupping and other forms of alternative healing. One of those was the CBS morning news program, "The Early Show." On July 12, Michael Gaeta, president of the Acupuncture Society of New York, appeared on "The Early Show" to provide information on cupping, then demonstrated the technique on one of his patients, who was lying on a nearby treatment table.

"There are two forms of cupping therapy," Gaeta explained. "Cupping therapy is a treatment in which the practitioner creates suction in a cup, and then applies that cup to the body, which then draws the skin up around the cup (and) under the cup." Gaeta then picked up a cotton ball, soaked part of it in alcohol, ignited it and placed it in the cup to draw out the oxygen, before placing it on the patient.

"Cupping brings fresh blood to the area," Gaeta continued, "so it tends to improve circulation. It also helps open up the chest and benefit the lungs, and can even benefit menstrual problems and digestive disorders." He added that the typical cupping session lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, and that it can be repeated (once the marks from the last treatment clear up) until the condition is resolved.

"It feels a bit strange," the patient said when asked about the treatment. "(It) definitely doesn't hurt. It just feels like someone's pulling at your skin."

NCCAM Announces New CAM Grant Partnership

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has created a new grant series for schools and professionals interested in advanced approaches to research and education. The series, called the CAM Practitioner Research Education Project Grant Partnership, is designed to increase the quality and quantity of the research content in the curricula of CAM-oriented institutions in the United States, while enhancing practitioners' exposure to and understanding of evidence-based biomedical research.

Under the grant proposal, a CAM-oriented school can partner with a research-based institution, such as a university, medical school or nursing school, to develop and then implement its program. The maximum total direct cost for the first year of the grant will be $100,000; in subsequent years, the maximum amount a school can request is $200,000 per year. The grants are limited to CAM-oriented schools that offer doctoral degrees in an alternative medicine practice that is licensed or certified at the state level.

Deadlines for grant applications are Sept. 15, 2004; Sept. 15, 2005, and Sept. 15, 2006. For more information, visit

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