China / Society

Traditional Miao cures to boost health of Guizhou's economy

By Yang Jun and Peng Yining (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-18 07:52

Herbal medicines developed by the Miao ethnic group over thousands of years are to be used to strengthen the economy of Guizhou province.

The need to develop ethnic medicine has been included in the 2015 Government Work Report.

"We will support the development of traditional Chinese medicine and the traditional medicine of ethnic minorities," Premier Li Keqiang said during the two sessions.

In 2013, revenue from sales of Miao medicines in China reached 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), more than the total from all other ethnic medicines, including Tibetan and Mongolian treatments. Ninety percent of Miao medicines were discovered and developed in Guizhou,

According to the government's plan, the total value of the new health and medical industry in Guizhou will exceed 80 billion yuan by 2017.

As a core sector of the health and pharmaceutical industry, Miao medicine will become a new driver for the province's economy, said Lu Hongguang, deputy director of the Affiliated Hospital of Guiyang Medical College.

"Living in the mountains of southwest China, Miao people have rich experience of using herbs to fight diseases," Lu said.

There are more than 1,500 kinds of Miao medicines, and 165 are commonly used to treat illnesses from flu to leukemia.

In 2014, a Miao medicine developed by a pharmaceutical company in Guizhou was found to have a therapeutic effect in the treatment of diabetes. The finding was reported in the US medical journal Diabetes.

The first national seminar on ethnic medicine was held in 1984, and since then Guizhou has been organizing large-scale Miao medicine research and development projects.

In 2014, plans to build a 46 million yuan Miao medicine research center were given the go-ahead by the central government. It will be the country's first national Miao medicine center.

Dou Qiling, chairman of Yibai Pharmaceutical Co, said Miao medicine has been widely accepted because of its curative effects.

Her company, one of the country's largest producer of Miao medicine, became Guizhou's first private pharmaceutical company to be listed in 2004.

"Unlike the traditional Miao medicine of ancient times, our products are made in a modern pharmaceutical factory and meet national quality standards," Dou said.

She said the company grows herbs in a special environment so the quality and yield can be controlled.

"We encourage local farmers to grow the herbs we need, so they also benefit," she added.

Su Jiangyuan and Zhao Kai contributed to this story.

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