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This week: As China invests in plants to tackle the new flu; HEALTH looks at the merits of alternative medicines.

The power of plants and giving a new breath of life to our breathing. HEALTH takes a step away from the mainstream.


This week HEALTH starts at Europe’s largest herbalists, ‘La Grande Herboristerie de la place Clichy’ and meets with Jean Pierre Raveneau. A pharmacologist and biologist Raveneau has always been interested by plants. With over 900 species of plants in his herbalist’s shop he says that he can treat up to 80% of today’s ailments.

This herbalist shop first opened it's doors back in 1880. Some 16 years ago Raveneau took it over. There remains a dearth of scientific evidence to prove the medicinal capabilities of these plants and many doctors don’t accept the power of such natural defenses but Raveneau for one is convinced that they can, lend a helping hand at least.

"You can't cure AIDS with plants but we can improve the body’s immune system with medicinal plants so we can stop it from getting worse. It's a mix of essential oils and mother tincture...A liquid that is taken three times a day.

The idea is to prevent the virus from penetrating the cells, to boost the antibodies and thus reinforce the immune system. In that way we can stabilise, and we've tested the concoction for three years in Abidjan, we've managed to stabilise the white cells and thus stop the patient from getting worse."


Meanwhile across in China, the Health Bureau in Beijing says that a 5000 year old traditional treatment is working to cure the new AH1N1 virus.

Indeed a 'flu prevention drink' has just gone on sale there, made up a mixture of plants including, honeysuckle and peppermint. According to doctors there the plants are more effective than any western alternative.


 “When it comes to treating influenza A, these plants enable the patient to recover more rapidly than if they take western medicine. And unlike modern treatments, they dont have any adverse side effects,” notes Chen Dacan, Vice-president of the Guangzhou Hospital. From China Baptiste Fallevoz reports.


HEALTH then looks at the physical practices that may help our bodies to cope and defend itself. A visit to Generation Tao looks at the importance of breathing.


Wutao, a dance that gets the dancer to focus on every element of their movement, each bone, nerve and breath, will, according to the founder of the centre, help maintain a body’s form and keep it in good health.


"Behind the breath is a pulmonary respiration, which is the start of a circulation of the bodies fluids and thus of its energy if you like. If the cells in our bodies are no longer free and fluid...the physical, organic exchanges in our body won't work so well, and so will lead to a disorder if you like, and a degradation of our health....thus getting sick. Keeping all our cell membranes flexible, clear, and fluid by our movements and emotions is the gatekeeper of our health," says Pol Charoy.


Plants and deep breathing, alternative but perhaps not a strange as the images that close HEALTH this week: Adopt a frog...and stop the spread of dengue fever. Such is the unconventional idea offered by a town councilor in Argentina who is handing out hoping mosquito monitors. Frogs eat around 15,000 insects a month, mostly mosquitos – thus making the long legged creatures one of the better ways of fighting the current epidemic.



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