Different cultures have radically different ideas about what is acceptable food and acceptable medicine. Chinese have a long history of using various species of insects as medicinal ingredients. In the last several years, ants have become a somewhat popular remedy for the treatment of diabetes and other vacuity conditions in the People’s Republic of China. In issue #1, 2002 of Si Chuan Zhong Yi (Sichuan Chinese Medicine), Liang Qi-gong et al. published an article titled, “the Treatment of 56 Cases of Diabetes Mellitus with Yi Xiao Tang Jiao Nang (Ant Disperse Sugar Gelatin Capsules).” This article appeared on pages 28-29. A precis of that article is given below.
All 56 patients in this study were seen as out-patients. Among them, there were 21 males and 35 females. Nine cases were over 60 years of age, 26 cases were 45-60, and 21 cases were less than 45 years of age. The shortest course of disease was six months, and the longest was four years. All these patients had varying degrees of oral thirst, rapid hungering, polyuria, obesity or emaciation, and generalized lack of strength. Fasting blood glucose was equal to or more than 7mmol/L (126mg/dL) and glycosuria was +-++++.
Yi Xiao Tang Jiao Nang consisted of: Formicida (Ma Yi, ants), 60g, Radix Pseudostellariae Heterophyllae (Tai Zi Shen), 10g, Radix Trichosanthis Kirlowii (Tian Hua Fen), 15g, Radix Puerariae (Ge Gen), 10g, Radix Dioscoreae Oppositae (Shan Yao), 10g, Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli (Ji Nei Jin), 6g, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae (Bai Zhu), 10g, Rhizoma Atractylodis (Cang Zhu), 6g, Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis (Wu Wei Zi), 10g, Fructus Corni Officinalis (Shan Zhu Yu), 10g, Radix Scrophulariae Ningpoensis (Xuan Shen), 10g, uncooked Radix Rehmanniae (Sheng Di), 20g, Cortex Radicis Lycii Chinensis (Di Gu Pi), 6g, Rhizoma Anemarrhenae Aspheloidis (Zhi Mu), 20g, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae (Dan Shen), 20g, uncooked Radix Glycyrrhizae (Gan Cao), 10g, Radix Astragali Membranacei (Huang Qi), 15g, Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici (Mai Men Dong), 15g, Rhizoma Polygonati (Huang Jing), 10g, Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui), 15g, and Herba Cistanchis Deserticolae (Rou Cong Rong), 15g. These medicinals were ground into fine powder and disinfected, after which 0.3g were put into each capsule and stored for use. Ten capsules were administered each time, three times per day, and three months equaled one course of treatment. After 2-5 such courses, outcomes were assessed. During treatment, patients were counseled not to eat acrid, peppery, stimulating foods.
Marked effect was defined as disappearance of clinical symptoms, FBG lower than 7mmol/L (126mg/dL), and negative glycosuria. Some effect was defined as marked improvement in clinical symptoms and marked lowering of blood sugar and urine glucose. No effect meant that, after 1-2 courses, there was no obvious improvement in any of the above parameters. Based on these criteria, there were 38 patients (67.9%) who got a marked effect, 12 patients (21.4%) who got some effects, and six patients (10.7%) who got no effect, for a total amelioration rate of 89.3%. However, these effects were most significant in those with the early stage of disease who were asymptomatic and less pronounced in those with many years’ diseases and lots of symptoms. According to the Chinese authors of this study, there were no observable side effects from this protocol.
Within this formula, Ma Yi, Shan Zhu Yu, Wu Wei Zi, and Rou Cong Rong are the sovereign medicinals for supplementing the kidneys. The ministerial medicinals in this formula are Haung Qi, Tai Zi Shen, Huang Jing, Bai Zhu, Cang Zhu, Ji Nei Jin, Shan Yao, and Ge Gen. These medicinals fortify the spleen and boost the qi. The adjunctive medicinals in this formula include Tian Hua Fen, Sheng Di, Zhi Mu, Mai Men Dong, Di Gu Pi, and Xuan Shen which clear heat, nourish yin, and engender fluids and Dang Gui and Dan Shen which quicken the blood and transform stasis. Last but not least, uncooked Gan Cao performs as the messenger medicinal. Therefore, as a whole, this formula fortifies the spleen and boosts the qi, nourishes yin, clears heat, and engenders fluids, and quickens the blood and moves stasis. By using this formula, the latter heaven root obtains fullness and nourishment and the former heaven root obtains consolidation and securing. In particular, Ma Yi are a type of kidney-supplementing medicinal which also quickens the blood and supplements the qi, boosts the qi and soothes the sinews, disperses accumulation and transforms stasis, combats debility and combats cancer. When combined with other medicinals which fortify the spleen and boost the qi, nourish yin and engender fluids, and quicken the blood and transform stasis, it achieves exceptionally satisfactory therapeutic results.