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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86 Suppl 2:159-64.

Immunomodulating Chinese herbal medicines.

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Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Traditional Chinese medicine always pays close attention to the strengthening of the patient's general resistance against illness, there are many Chinese herbs used for thousands of years are considered as tonics. Animal experiments and modern clinical trails have shown that quite a number herbs are immunologically active, and most of the tonics are excellent immunomodulating agents, such as polysaccharides or saponins isolated from Astragalus mongholicus, Acanthopanax senticosus and Panax notoginseng, which stimulated macrophages, promoted antibody formation, activated complement and increased T lymphocyte proliferation. Moreover, some of them were proved to be anti-irradiative and protected animals from liver intoxications. On the other hand, some anti-inflammative or anti-pyretic herbs such as Tripterygium wilfordii, Aconitum and Artemisiae species were proved to have immunosuppressive principles, some of them were now used clinically for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, chronic nephritis, systemic lupus erythematosis and various skin disorders. Pharmacological studies revealed that they have depressant effect on most of the humoral-immunity but not on the cell-mediated immunity. Some of them stimulated adrenal cortex functions and prolonged the survival time of transplanted allograft tissues.

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