Monthly Archives: February 2016

Needs for Ailing Knees

Surgery #2Six years ago I had a freak accident. Someone fell into my left knee at a “team building” workshop that was poorly organized.
Most know where I’m going with this.
My anterior cruciate ligament and my medial meniscus were damaged in the mishap.
This is a common injury with many athletes and lay folk alike.
The strange thing is that I have been extremely active all of my life and have done a multitude of sports, inclusive of ballet, without chronic injury and with very little sprains or strains over my 50 years of running, jumping, skating, yoga, dancing, swimming, cycling, hiking, climbing and whataver else was the activity du jour.
Five surgeries to the same knee later, I began an indepth search on what is called HIT Medicine from the Far East. The herb that stood out again and again in “Jow” formulas that are applied topically was Tienchi Ginseng also known as Panax notoginseng.

Panax notoginsengI, of course am terminally curious, and set about doing a search to see if there had been any modern research studies exploring the mechanism of Tienchi ginseng. Truly, it is enought that every Kung Fu artist uses Jows with excellent benefit and this should be enough for me, but I just can’t help myself.

I found a trail of breadcrumbs that lead me to this gem. In an early study, published in 2015, there it was, a well conducted and written expose’ of the possible mechanisms of Panax notoginseng of promoting self-repair of the anterior cruciate ligament. Bellow is the abstract and you may follow the links to the full free article.

I backed up from my computer after reading the entire study (with my magnifying glass, of course) and I wondered why I had spent the last 6 years and 5 painful surgeries where two of the three grafts screwed into my tibia failed. Why had I not given my injury a year or two and a boat load of Panax notoginseng to heal itself? I can only say that if something were to happen with my other knee, I am going the route of the martial art masters of old. With this new insight firmly planted in my mind, I am starting now to encourage my battered and still unsound left knee to heal to the best of its ability in the face of all the insults, trauma and scar tissue by taking Tienchi ginseng daily.

I’ll let you know how it goes…..

Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2015 Jan 1;8(1):441-9. eCollection 2015.
Panax notoginseng saponins promote wound repair of anterior cruciate ligament through phosphorylation of PI3K, AKT and ERK.
Yu L1, Xie J2, Xin N2, Wang Z2.

Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS) are components derived from Chinese herb panax notoginseng and play important roles in the cure of wounds. However, how PNS plays this function is still unclear. In this study, we used MTT assay, wound healing assay, western blot, quantitative real time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect the effects of PNS on the proliferation, migration and expression of collagen and fibronectin of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) fibroblasts as well as the underlying mechanism. We found that PNS promoted the proliferation and migration of ACL fibroblasts and increased the expression levels of collagen and fibronectin. Further mechanism study indicates that PNS might play its function through the phosphorylation of PI3K, AKT and ERK. This study provides a possible mechanism for the function of PNS and lays foundation for further study on the function of panax notoginseng.


ERK; PI3K/AKT; Panax notoginseng saponins; collagen; migration; proliferation

PMID: 25755732

The Divine is in the Details (Especially when it comes to Food)

I think most would agree that peanuts are a food that are fairly high on the allergen list.
I grew up eating peanut butter. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, but my mother had a child almost every year, producing eight children in ten years. Peanut butter was quick, easy, satisfying and most of the children ate it without argument.
Many children today have full blown peanut allergies and those statistics continue to grow rapidly.
I often have these “what’s wrong with our food today” conversations with my father because it usually engenders lengthy “battles of scientific study” that are fun and mentally stimulating.
One of my continued arguments with my father, who was a PhD analytical chemist in food science for his entire carreer with the United States Army, is that if we would just embrace ancient sprouting techniques, we wouldn’t have most of the legume and grain reactions that we do today.
Well, I was mildly vindicated by an unlikely source.
My father purposefully walked into my kitchen several weeks ago and plopped his copy of Food Technology onto my kitchen table. It was open on page twelve and he points his finger at the article without saying a word.
“Germination Decreases Allergenicity of Peanuts” is the title of a 100 word article with a link to the research. The abstract was published ahead of print, but it is available in full text print online.

I didn’t know what to do. I could do my victory dance, or ask the question that most of us in the natural products industry ask which is, I wonder why the sudden interest in this ancient food technology? Is it because peanut sales are down?  Is it because the peanut industry is truly concerned about the probable allergenicity of this legume?

We may never know for sure what has inspired the scientific inquiry, but I was content to see the early possibility of confirmation regading sprouting making this food safer to consume, especially since it is linked with some of my most pleasurable childhood memories.

You can click on this title to read the abstract in PubMed.

J Food Sci. 2016 Jan;81(1):T255-61. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13161. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Beneficial Influence of Short-Term Germination on Decreasing Allergenicity of Peanut Proteins.
PMID: 26618608