Lucy S. Li, Ian Y. Zhu

January 2005


Dr. Lucy S. Li and Dr. Ian Y. Zhu have had opportunities to treat patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) in different healthcare settings which include hospital, rehabilitation centre, long term care facility and private clinic. Since Traditional Chinese Medicine is recognized in British Columbia and fully accessible to the public, Dr. Li and Dr. Zhu have initiated a research project that undertook four years. The study has supported evidence that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has significant medical benefits for persons living with spinal cord injuries, from post-trauma conditions, daily symptoms, to quality of life.

11 patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been treated during July 2000 to December 2004. Our clinical data shows that:

Five out of 11 patients were injured from sport (45%), three patients were injured from motor vehicle accident (27%), two were injured from work (19%) and one was injured from virus attack (9%).

Four were quadriplegics and seven were paraplegics;

All the patients have been on prescription drugs, physiotherapy and rehab. They all have been exposed to different alternative healthcare services such as chiropractic, naturopathy, massage therapy, etc.

Four patients started receiving acupuncture treatment right after their injuries (36%), while the other seven patients started the treatment after their conditions become plateau (64%), the longest SCI history is 24 years.

Nine patients received the full spectrum of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) program (81%), which includes acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbs, cupping, qigong, and food therapy. Two received acupuncture only (19%).

All patients came with their individual concerns. Issues included skin problems, circulatory conditions, respiratory conditions, bladder function, bowel function, sexual function, neuropathic pain and spasticity complaint. Some complications or conditions after SCI (osteoporosis, arthritis, insomnia, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.) were treated as well.

Three patients received treatment on regular basis (three treatments per week or more), while six patients received treatment on their own schedule (approximately once a week). Two patients received treatment when they need it, for example, when their symptoms worsened.

All patients were provided with individualized acupuncture treatment plan, strategic techniques which included: electro-stimulation, scalp acupuncture, ear acupuncture, embedded acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion.

Our study indicates that acupuncture is the quickest responding modality among Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), especially for pains and spasticity while herbal remedy is the most rewarding modality for functional problems. After receiving acupuncture on regular basis (electro-stimulation ear and scalp acupuncture alternatively applied, 20-30 minutes per session, daily) for two weeks, patients were able to cope with pain easier and seven out of eleven patients had decreased pain killers (64%). Acupuncture along with cupping, on FIVE SHU POINTS and DU meridian, spasticity effectively relieved, patients were awake and handled daily tasks better. With Chinese herbal medicine, patients' bladder function improved, urine residue reduced to less than 100ml and two regained their bladders' control (19%). As their symptoms improved, patients were physically more active and their stamina became stronger, respectively their mental stages were steadier and calmer. They all felt that their lives were easier and happier. Five of them did not depend on antidepressant any more (45%) and one had quit taking marijuana (9%).

Our study also indicates that the ongoing herbal remedies have significant benefits for those symptoms and conditions that arise after SCI. We were experiencing that certain herbs were tremendous helpful on specifics:

Low Blood Pressure:

Radix Astragali seu Hedysri, Radix Angelicae Sinensis, Rhizoma Cimicifugae, Radix Bupleuri, Radix Ginseng, Radix Aconiti Praeparata.

Loss of Appetite:

Radix Astragali seu Hedysari, Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae, Radix Paeoniae Alba, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Poria, Rhizoma Pinelliae, Exocarpium Citri Grandis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Fructus Ziziphi Jujubae.


Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae, Ochra, Os Draconis, Concha Ostreae, Plastrum Testudinis, Radix Paeoniae Alba, Radix Scrophulariae, Radix Asparagi, Fructus Meliae Toosendan, Fructus Hordei Germinatus, Herba Artemisiae Scopariae.

Weight Loss:

Fructus crataegi, Exocarpium Citri Grandis, Massa Medicata Fermentata,

Bladder Care:

Oothea Mantidis, Lignum Pini Poriaferum, Os Draconis, Plastrum Testundinis, Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae, Radix Angelicae Sinensis, Radix Polygalae, Rhizoma Acori Graminei.

Bowel Care:

Fructus Psoraleae, Semen Myristicae, Fructus Schisandrae, Fructus Evodiae, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Fructus Ziziphi Jujubae.

Neuropathic Pain:

Rhizoma Corydalis, Radix Rehmanniae, Radix Asparagi, Radix Ohiopogonis, Semen Biotae, Semen Ziziphi spinosae, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Radix Angelicae Sinensis, Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae, Poria, Radix Scrophulariae, Fructus Schisandrae.


Arisaema cum Bile, Radix Angelicae Dahuricae, Radix Ledebrouriellae, Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii, Radix Angelicae Pubescentis, Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong, Rhizoma Gastrodiae, Radix Paeoniae Alba, Bombyx Batriticatus.

Sexual dysfunction:

Fructus Corni, Rhizoma Dioscoreae, Poria, Cortex Eucommiae, Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae, Fructus Broussonetiae, Radix Morindae Officinalis, Fructus Lycii, Radix Rehmanniae Praeparata, Herba Cistanchis, Fructus Foeniculi, Rhizoma Acori Graminei, Fructus Schisandrae, Radix Polygalae.

Pressure Sore:

Radix Astragali seu Hedysri, Radix Ginseng, Radix Ophiopogonis, Fructus Schisandrae.



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