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: Classical enzymatic theory revised by including water motions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

Oct 30, 2014

Overwhelmed by speculators trying to cash-in on a prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to do at the local level what world leaders often fail to ...

How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

Oct 21, 2014

What do an accelerator complex at Cern, a manufacturing center in 19th century Philadelphia and lotus cultivation during the Qing dynasty all have in common? All such activities generate knowledge and know-how. ...

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

Heat-conducting plastic developed

20 hours ago

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional ...

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.