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Chin Med. 2013 Feb 18;8(1):4. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-8-4.

Effects of Panax ginseng-containing herbal plasters on compressed intervertebral discs in an in vivo rat tail model.

Author information

  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR, PR China. mason.leung@polyu.edu.hk.



Tienchi (Panax notoginseng) has been used in conservative treatments for back pain as a major ingredient of many herbal medicines. This study aims to investigate the effects of a herbal medicine containing tienchi on compressed intervertebral discs in rats.


Using an in vivo rat tail model, intervertebral disc compression was simulated in the caudal 8-9 discs of 25 rats by continuous static compression (11 N) for 2 weeks. An herbal medicine plaster (in which the major ingredient was tienchi) was externally applied to the compressed disc (n=9) for three weeks, and held in place by an adhesive bandage, in animals in the Chinese Medicine (CM) group. The effect of the bandage was evaluated in a separate placebo group (n=9), while no intervention with unrestricted motion was provided to rats in an additional control group (n=7). Disc structural properties were quantified by in vivo disc height measurement and in vitro morphological analysis.


Disc height decreased after the application of compression (P < 0.001). The disc height decreased continuously in the control (P = 0.006) and placebo (P = 0.003) groups, but was maintained in the CM group (P = 0.494). No obvious differences in disc morphology were observed among the three groups (P = 0.896).


The tienchi-containing herbal plaster had no significant effect on the morphology of compressed discs, but maintained disc height in rats.

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