New research suggests that a Chinese herbal medicine called Ji-Sui-Kang (JSK) could significantly improve outcomes after spinal cord injury. The study showed that JSK decreased tissue damage, improved physical function, and protected the structure of neural cells after spinal cord injury in rats.
Anecdotal evidence from Chinese medicine practitioners has pointed to success with JSK for a variety of conditions, but there have been few experimental, controlled trials on the treatment.
Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada tested the effects of JSK on rats with spinal cord injury. Within 24 hours after the injury, the rats were given either JSK or a saline solution, and received the treatments daily for three weeks. After just seven days, the rats treated with JSK had significantly better locomotor function compared to the control group and appeared to support their weight more effectively. They continued to have better improvements at the 21-day follow-up.
After seven days, the size of the injured area reduced significantly in rats treated with JSK, and the structure of the spinal cord itself was better preserved. Upon examining tissue samples of the injured area, researchers discovered that there were fewer cell deaths as well as more intact axons and mylein. JSK was also associated with the increased expression of proteins believed to help neurons survive and recover after injury.
Researchers suggested that JSK could target several biochemical and cellular pathways in a way that protects against the initial traumatic injury in addition to subsequent injuries that develop over time.
While the total herbal composition of JSK was not released for proprietary reasons, some of the ingredients include Ginseng, Rhizoma (chuan xiong), Glycyrrhizae Radix (gan cao), Paeoniae Alba Radix (bai shao), and Cinnamomi Cortex (rou gui).
Although additional research is needed, it’s possible that this Chinese herbal medicine may be more beneficial to patients than steroid injections, which have been tied to worse outcomes after spinal cord injury in recent research.
Su,C, Zhang D, et al. Effects of a novel herbal formulation JSK on acute spinal cord injury in rats. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 2013; 31 (5): 597-617/