Dr.Byeon's main research is in the Brain Neurology field with a specific focus on establishing the mechanisms and effect of acupuncture and herbal extracts on Cerebral blood flow.
He is interested in investigating the mechanism and proving that acupuncture and herbal extracts can improve cerebral blood flow so that this can lead to developing strategies for prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cure of ischemic cerebrovascular disorders. With an educational background of Oriental Medicine and Cardiovascular and Neurologic Diseases, he has been working on exploring mechanisms and establishing proof of the effect of acupuncture and herb extracts on cerebral blood flow and its possible application in treatment of ischemic cerebrovascular disorders such as Stroke.
He truly believes that his scientific and Oriental medicine knowledge as well as research skills and achievements will contribute to develop novel therapeutic protocols of acupuncture and herbs against cerebrovascular disorders and will benefit the Stroke/ degenerative neural disorder scientific community and public healthcare in the United States by brightening the prospects for treating such diseases.
Research Field 1: Acupuncture effectiveness on Cerebral Blood Flow
This research chose the GV20 acupuncture point to evaluate acupuncture effectiveness, hypothesizing that its stimulation induces cerebrovascular responses. In this research, changes of hyperventilation-induced carbon dioxide reactivity and corrected blood flow velocities at 40mm Hg of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) and anterior cerebral artery (ACA) were assessed in healthy young male volunteers by transcranial Doppler ultrasound(TCD). In conclusion, my publication showed that rheological improvement by GV20 point acupuncture treatment results in increases in middle cerebral artery (MCA) and anterior cerebral artery (ACA) blood flow velocities, which are associated with improvements in carbon dioxide (CO2) reactivity during hypocapnia in healthy subjects. These results may be of importance in various types of brain ischemia and stroke because rheological factors may likewise be of great importance as the determinants of Cerebral Blood Flow velocity in ischemic brain, where vasodilation is maximal and autoregulation is impaired.
Research Field 2: Herbal extract effectiveness on Cerebral Blood Flow
Our research team chose Hyul-bu-chuke-tang (HCEt, known as Xue-fu-zhu-yu-tang in Chinese, a formula consisting of multiple herb extracts) since this is the best known traditional herbal medicine used for the treatment of cerebral infarction in Asia. Oriental Medicine suggests that HCEt treats blood stasis syndrome, which is a pathological state of blood stagnation in a certain area of the body due to impairments in hemorheology and microcirculation. The therapeutic effect of HCEt reducing platelet aggregation and enhancing erythrocyte deformability and blood filtration rates in vivo, resulting in treating ischemic cerebrovascular diseases has been researched recently but since the effects and mechanisms of HCEt on erythrocyte deformability and cerebral microcirculatory blood flow in humans have not been researched scientifically in depth, we started our project.
Our research investigated the acute effects of HCEt on erythrocyte deformability in normal subjects. Understanding erythrocyte deformability is important because this is known to be an important factor for microvasculature perfusion, diminished erythrocyte deformability increases microcirculatory resistance which leads to ischemic cerebrovascular diseases. We demonstrated that HCEt improves the cerebral blood flow by enhancing Carbon Dioxide(CO2) reactivity and erythrocyte deformability.
Research Field 3: Herbal extract effectiveness on Micro-vascular circulation
This research was on one patient with acute dizziness, ataxia, nausea, diarrhea who had a history of stroke, hypertension, arteriosclerotic change of intracranial vessels but central nervous vertigo was ruled out after the radiological examination, hence diagnosed with acute vestibulopathy characterized by Vertigo, Nausea, Ataxia, and Nystagmus.
We administered traditional herbal extracts of Korean medicine Kwak-hyang-jeong-gi-san and Ban-ha-baek-chul-cheon-ma-tang to the patient and the result was assessed by European Evaluation of Vertigo scale. The patient’s symptoms including dizziness subsided by ten days. The results of this research provide evidence for Herbal extract effectiveness on microvascular circulation.
Research Field 4: Acupuncture and moxibustion effectiveness on Degenerative Neurologic diseases
This research was to prove the effect of Electro-acupuncture and Moxibustion at points BL-32, CV-2, ST-30, SP-6, KI-5 on a patient with dysuria suffering from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a degenerative neurologic disease.
During eight weeks, the patient's symptom was assessed every two weeks by International Prostatism Symptom Score(IPSS) and Voiding diary. The patient showed improvement of IPSS, mean Self Voiding volume and mean Residual volume.
This result proved the effect of electro-acupuncture and moxibustion which will open doors for future research on Multiple system atrophy (MSA).
Research Field 5: Herbal extract effectiveness on post-Stroke management
This research was to find out if traditional herbal extracts of Korean medicine, such as Do-juk-gang-gi-tang, which is commonly used for post-Stroke management in urinary retention, can be proved scientifically of its effect.
Cerebrovascular disease induced dysuria in the cerebral shock stage is known to be a common outcome and treatments in earlier stages are vital for the recovery, according to the American Urological Association, which is why we researched on this very subject. We discovered that the traditional herbal extracts of Korean Medicine were proven to be effective in our research by assessing the patient’s total and self urination volume. The results of this research provide evidence for Herbal extract effectiveness on post-Stroke management, in terms of enhancing the cerebral blood flow to quicken the recovery process of dysuria after Stroke.
Research Field 6: Herbal extract effectiveness on Stress
The brain plays a critical role in the body’s perception of and response to stress. However, pinpointing exactly which regions of the brain are responsible for particular aspects of a stress response is difficult and often unclear. Understanding that the brain works in more of a network-like fashion carrying information about a stressful situation across regions of the brain can help explain how stress and its negative consequences are heavily rooted in neural communication dysfunction. In spite of this, since there is not a fundamental solution remedy for stress, we completed this research to show the traditional herbal extracts’ effect on stress and discovering the mechanism of how it helps the heart and the brain.
This research was to find out if traditional herbal extracts of Korean medicine, such as U-hwang-chung-sim-won, which is commonly used for cardiovascular and neurologic disorders, can be proved scientifically of its effect. The results of this research provide evidence for herbal extract effectiveness towards the cardiovascular and neurologic disorders, which can help develop treatments for people suffering from cardiac diseases or stress.
Research Field 7: Acupuncture with Bee-venom effectiveness on post-Stroke management
Stroke resulting edema in the hands is the most common post-Stroke symptom, which has a prevalence rate of 16-37% within the patients from Stroke, due to the patient’s motor function disorder which disables the blood circulation in areas of paralysis and this usually causes considerable impact on their rehabilitation.
Bee venom acupuncture treatment is a method administering venom extracted from a honeybee into local acupuncture points and has been a traditional Oriental medicine method to treat neuralgia and arthritis but also post stroke symptoms including shoulder pain. We treated a patient with Bee venom acupuncture and the symptoms were assessed by the diameter of the wrist and Activity Index (AI). The diameter of the wrist of the patient decreased significantly which suggests that Bee venom acupuncture is effective when treating Stroke patients with edema in their hands. The results of this research provide evidence for acupuncture and herbal extract combination effectiveness. This research also suggests that no extracts taken from nature are valueless.
Research Field 8: Moxibustion and Herbal extract effectiveness on post-Stroke management
This research was to find out if traditional herbal extracts of Korean medicine, such as Bo-gan-san, which is commonly used for post-Stroke management in diplopia, and also moxibustion on acupuncture points can be proved scientifically of its effect.
Wallenberg syndrome is a disorder in which the patient has a constellation of neurologic symptoms, such as diplopia, due to injury to the lateral part of the medulla in the brain, resulting in tissue ischemia and necrosis. Depending upon the size and location of the area of the brain stem damaged by the Stroke, it could take between weeks or months to a few years, which is why we researched on this very subject to find a solution to speed up the recovery rate.
We discovered that the traditional herbal extract, Bo-gan-san and moxibustion on points Tai-yang, TB-23, Yi-yao, BL-2, ST-1 were proven to be effective in our research by assessing the patient’s scale of difference from 0 to 10.
The results of this research provide evidence for Herbal extract effectiveness and moxibustion on post-Stroke management, in terms of enhancing the cerebral blood flow in the lateral part of the medulla in the brain to quicken the recovery process of diplopia after Stroke.
Stroke can leave sequela such as motor impairment, unconsciousness, dysphagia, cognitive disorder, aphasia. Aphasia can cause depression due to blocked communication amongst friends and families and is the most important factor that slows down the recovery rate. But, there are no specific treatments for aphasia after stroke, other than language therapy. Donepezil, Bromocriptine, Amphetamine, Piracetam are prescribed but the effects are not proven.
This research was to discover the effects of Korean Oriental medicine treatment on aphasia by evaluating retrospectively on post stroke aphasia patients. This was done by comparing the K-WAB(Korean version-the Western Aphasia Battery) AQ(aphasia quotient) scores between Korean medicine treatment and language therapy combined group and language therapy alone group of Kyunghee medical center. Korean medicine treatments and language therapy combined group had more improvements in both quantity and quality than language therapy alone group for post stroke aphasia recovery. This study is significant in that, for the first time in Korean Oriental medicine, compared with a control group retrospectively and had more patient numbers. Previous studies had only one or two patients evaluated and had no control groups. Therefore these were not as objective. Our study had 18 patients that were evaluated, meaning more objectivity.
Research Field 10: Herbal extract influence and effectiveness on conventional anticoagulation treatments for Stroke
Interaction of Warfarin with traditional herbal extracts remains controversial. Therefore our research aimed to examine the effect of herbal formula extracts containing Ginseng by observing Prothrombin time (PT), which is a blood test that measures how long it takes blood to clot, on patients being treated with Warfarin. This PT can be used to check whether medicine to prevent blood clots is working. A PT test may also be called an INR test.
Our results suggest that Ginseng included herbal formula extracts influences the outcome of the PT. This added intervention increases the PT, which means that it delays the time for the blood to clot. This is vital when Stroke can be prevented and stopped to cause further damage by inhibiting the coagulation of blood. This research means and suggests that if we use combined therapy of Ginseng included herbal extracts and Warfarin, it can not only help prevent second or third attacks after the first one much more efficiently than using just Warfarin, but also provide more safer and natural ways to manage post Stroke.