A Rosetta Stone for traditional Chinese medicine

Oct 29, 2007

Scientists in the United Kingdom have "decoded" the inscrutable language of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), revealing its strong chemical foundation in a way that may help scientists mine age-old Chinese medicines to develop tomorrow's new drugs. Their study is scheduled for the Nov./Dec. issue of ACS' bi-monthly Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.

David J. Barlow, Thomas M. Ehrman, and Peter J. Hylands point out that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) - regarded by many Western experts as an archaic system doomed to extinction 50 years ago - has undergone a "remarkable renaissance" in recent years.

However, the arcane language used to describe categories of medication in TCM has hindered effective understanding of one of the most developed and mature systems of alternative medicine in existence.

To overcome that barrier, the researchers analyzed patterns among 8411 compounds from 240 Chinese herbs in relation to the categories found in traditional Chinese medicine. Organizing their findings in a kind of herbal "map," their results reveal that many categories in Chinese medicine are amenable to translation to Western terminology.

TCM's "fire poison" group, for example, is comparable to today's family of anti-inflammatory medicines. Now, future researchers will better understand the chemical basis of remedies that have been in use for thousands of years, the study indicated.

"This is likely to be of benefit both in the search for new drugs and, equally significantly, in understanding how Chinese medicine works," say the authors.

Source: ACS

Explore further: New material steals oxygen from the air

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Recommended for you

New material steals oxygen from the air

6 hours ago

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations. Just one spoon of the substance is enough to absorb all the ...

Driving cancer cells to suicide

6 hours ago

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers report that a new class of chemical compounds makes cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs. They have also pinpointed the relevant target ...

Neutral self-assembling peptide hydrogel

9 hours ago

Self-assembling peptides are characterized by a stable β-sheet structure and are known to undergo self-assembly into nanofibers that could further form a hydrogel. Self-assembling peptide hydrogels have ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vlam67
not rated yet Oct 29, 2007
Fascinating. So the trouble is not the science behind it but of chemical manipulations and philosophies that were not written and discussed in Western notations and traditions so they are all considered to be all most nothing but bullshit and does not warrant the time and effort to learn it natively.