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The Shenzhou Vll spacecraft successfully lifted off from China carrying traditional Chinese herbal medicine to prevent the astronauts (taikonauts) from getting motion sickness.
Taikong Yangxin, or “space heart-nourishing” capsules, are “made of more than 10 types of Chinese herbs and have proven to be effective in improving the astronaut’s cardiovascular condition,” according to Li Yongzhi, director of the medical arm of the country’s astronaut training centre.
She told Xinhua News Agency that TCM pills are superior to western motion sickness cures because they do not have side-effects. The herbs will be taken in granule form which can be diluted with water and taken to treat motion sickness during the space flight.
Astronauts Yang Liwei, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, who flew in 2003 and 2005, took the herbal medicines before and after their spaceflight but not during it.
Li said the pills on the spacecraft will be particularly useful for the two astronauts who are scheduled to carry out the extra-vehicular activities. “The medicine will boost their physical conditions and improve their adaptability in an extreme environment,” she said.
Li said that the herbal pills, which have previously been found effective in rats, will be mass-produced for market sales in the future. Ingredients have not been disclosed but it is likely that they contain ginger and Chinese hawthorn.