|New Sunday Times June 16, 2002
Seeking the essence of chicken
Since H.W. Brands, the chief chef to Queen Victoria of England in the 19th century concocted chicken essence, there have been endless claims about its potency. Now, Singapore scientist Dr. Sim Meng Kwoon has uncovered its postive effects on cardiovascular diseases. JOHNNY YEW writes
Essence of chicken (EOC), or any chicken extract for that matter, may be nature's greatest nutritional gift to mankind.
EOC performs such a multitude of biological functions in the body that it virtually enhances an individual's health as well as reduces the risks of a host of chronic illnesses and diseases. Best of all, it is not a drug and has absolutely no side effects.
Now a breakthrough research by Singapore scientist Dr. Sim Meng Kwoon has uncovered the suppressive effects of EOC on two wide spread cardiovascular diseases, cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart) and arteriosclerosis (excessive build-up of plague in the arteries) and also hypertension, the most prevalent chronic disease affecting the human race.
Since H.W. Brands, the chief chef to Queen Victoria of England in the early 19th Century, concocted chicken essence for her majesty, there has been an endless stream of claims about the potency, of this versatile health supplement.
In 1994, with the use of modern technology, Dr. Sim set out to investigate the efficacies of EOC. Dr. Sim's interest was prompted by four factors; a paucity of scientific information about chicken essence, the assumption that it contains active peptides that may affect the cardiovascular system, that it is a powerful brain transmitter and lastly, why so many Asians consume it although they do not fully know the active biological compounds of the product which is now commercially manufactured by more than 30 Asian companies.
Dr. Sim, who specialises in cardiovascular pharmacology at the National University of Singapore, was also inspired by British researcher Geissler's findings that EOC improved a person's metabolic rate and restored blood iron (serum Fe) in individuals who had donated blood.
This sparked Dr. Sim's interest in adopting a nutritional approach to prevent and combat common chronic and cardiovascular diseases. He explained that current treatment methods, using medication and surgery have been known to medical doctors for a long time, whereas, preventive nutritional approach was still a fairly new field to medical practitioners due to the scarcity of scientific research on the subject.
Dr. Sim embarked on a research crusade in the early nineties on the biological actions of chicken essence.
His research culminated in a landmark finding in 2000 when he discovered the suppressive effect of EOC on the pathologies associated with hypertension.
Dr. Sim's findings were published in the respected British Journal of Nutrition last year. Malaysians got a glimpse of his research findings when he presented them for the first time in Petaling Jaya recently.
For Dr. Sim, what really matters is the injection of fresh hope for the millions of hypertensive, cardiac hypertrophic and arteriosclerotic patients in the world. Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel for them.
Undeniably, he has carved a niche for himself in this part of the world as a pioneer par excellence in the art of tapping into the beneficial compounds of nutrition to treat and reverse the progression of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.
Through a methodology of oral feeding of normal and hypertensive rats over a 12-month period (a year of a rat's life is extrapolated to 50 years of a man's life), Dr. Sim's laboratory investigation and monitoring found significant attenuation of age-related development of hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and arteriosclerosis.
A concurrent study, using laboratory chicken meat extract, showed similar anti-hypertrophic, anti-hypertensive and anti-arteriosclerotic actions. He has termed his finding as unexpected and provoking that would pose fresh challenges to nutritional scientists with an interest in cardiovascular diseases and meat consumption.
Dr. Sim's research with EOC has also found startling results in containing restenosis and infarction of the heart. The former is a condition where re-formation of blood clot takes place in the heart after angioplasty while the latter is characterised by formation of dead tissues in the heart after a heart attack.
Dr. Sim, who holds three patents on his discovery of the biological actions of angiotensin peptides (a chain of bonded amino acids), said that his research with rats showed that regular feeding of chicken essence was able to prevent restenosis and attenuate cardiac infarct.
"Until today, there is no known drug in the world that can do this. So you can imagine the great potential of EOC's peptides and nutritional supplements in tackling hypertension and cardiovascular diseases," he said.
Although his research was conducted on rats Dr. Sim is confident that his positive findings will produce the same results in humans.
"Animal model studies are a good indication of how human beings may respond to experimental compounds," he said.
Dr. Sim explained that rats are widely accepted animal models in research, whether in the academia or in the industry.
"Physiologically, there are only minor differences between animals and humans. In fact, all medications evolve from experiments on animal models.
"Moreover, I'm using a product that has been approved for public consumption worldwide. It's not an experimental drug that requires extensive testing before it can be approved for public sale."
* Dr. Sim Meng Kwoon is Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore.