Acupuncture lecturer gets stuck into Chinese medicine research


An acupuncture lecturer from the University of Lincoln will travel to Beijing to join a research team exploring the effectiveness of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.


Dr Jason Tsai, from the University’s School of Health and Social Care, has been invited to team up with 12 other academics on a study into the treatment of panic disorders.


The group has been awarded a grant by the Chinese government to carry out the work at the prestigious China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.


Dr Tsai, who joined the University of Lincoln in September 2007, said his involvement in the project was a privilege for him and the University.


He said: “The Academy is the number one research institute in the world in this field. This is very important for Lincoln because I believe we are the only university in the UK with links to it.”


The research team will compare the effectiveness and side effects of modern drugs and traditional Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of panic disorders.


A pilot study has already indicated traditional Chinese methods could be used to tackle panic disorders without the adverse side effects of western drugs – which can induce nausea, insomnia, tremors or dizziness.


The research project, which is expected to last three years, will involve patients from Beijing hospitals who are being treated for panic disorders.


Dr Jason TsaiThey will be randomly assigned into two groups. One group will be given conventional western medicines, while the other will receive Chinese herbal medicine called the Three Sen Decoction – a type of herbal tea.


Dr Tsai said: “We developed this from a traditional formula used about 800 or 900 years ago. Nowadays most Chinese people don’t use traditional Chinese medicine. They prefer to use western medicines. One reason for this is the country’s modernisation and also it is just easier to take the tablets. This study will compare the efficacy of Chinese medicine and chemical drug treatments and closely investigate the side effects.”


Dr Tsai studied pharmacy in his native Taiwan then took a masters degree and a PHD in biochemistry.


It was while he was working as a research fellow at Imperial College London that he decided to turn his focus towards traditional Chinese herbal medicine.


He studied the discipline in Beijing, where he first met Professor Guohua Yang – the academic leading the latest research project.


She is head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and a professor at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine – the leading university in the field.



Notes – Dr Jason Tsai was recently appointed as a member of the accreditation committee of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board.


Details of the research project will be published in the Chinese Journal of Psychiatry – the country’s leading journal in the subject.