TCM works to gain recognition in West

By Xu Jingxi and Wang Xiaodong ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-10-09 08:42:53

 TCM works to gain recognition in West

Paul Ryan, a US doctor studying traditional Chinese medicine in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, treats a girl with sanfutie plaster in July 2012. Provided to China Daily

Interaction between modern science and ancient texts needed to boost acceptance

Traditional Chinese medicine, practiced in China for thousands of years and used globally, has been gained worldwide attention with the announcement that a Chinese pharmacologist was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Oct 5.

Tu Youyou, 85, a researcher at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, was honored for developing artemisinin (qinghaosu), a drug therapy for malaria that has saved millions of lives across the world, the Nobel Assembly said at Karolinska Institute.

Qinghaosu, first acquired by Chinese scientists, including Tu, in the early 1970s, was extracted from Qinghao, a commonly seen traditional Chinese herb. The substance later became the standard regimen for malaria adopted globally.

TCM has won more recognition in Western countries in recent years, but the 5,000-year-old medical science still faces many challenges to break into the mainstream Western market, analysts say.

According to the Beijing-based World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, more TCM clinics have opened in the West and more colleges are starting to offer TCM education, but TCM has not attained legal status in many countries.

In some countries, TCM is considered a food supplement rather than having medicinal effects.

One reason that TCM is not widely acknowledged in these countries is a lack of research on TCM such as its pharmaceutical details and its interaction with other medicines, the federation says.

The number of registered TCM practitioners worldwide is estimated at about 500,000.

A cooperative project between the Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia is trying to combine TCM with modern interpretations of ancient documents and high-level clinical research.

"International society has increasing recognition of traditional Chinese medicine," says Lu Chuanjian, vice-president of the TCM hospital based in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. "TCM's natural therapies are in fashion, with many Western pharmaceutical companies looking for a formula for natural products when they develop new drugs."

"Tried and tested throughout several thousand years, the effectiveness of TCM is indisputable, with all the ineffective medicines and those with adverse reactions eliminated over time," she says.

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