The quest for modernisation of traditional Chinese medicine

Author: Qihe Xu 1*, Rudolf Bauer 2, Bruce M Hendry 1, Tai-Ping Fan 3, Zhongzhen Zhao 4, Pierre Duez 5, Monique SJ Simmonds 6, Claudia M Witt 7, Aiping Lu 4, Nicola Robinson 8, De-an Guo 9 and Peter J Hylands 10
* Corresponding author: Qihe Xu Author Affiliations 1 King's College London, Department of Renal Medicine, London, UK 2 Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmacognosy, Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Graz, Austria 3 Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK 4 School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China 5 Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Bromatology and Human Nutrition, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium 6 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK 7 Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany 8 Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University, London, UK 9 Shanghai Research Centre for TCM Modernisation, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China 10 King's College London, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, London, UK
Conference/Journal: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Date published: 2013
Other: Volume ID: 13 , Pages: 132 , Special Notes: doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-132 , Word Count: 314

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an integral part of mainstream medicine in China. Due to its worldwide use, potential impact on healthcare and opportunities for new drug development, TCM is also of great international interest. Recently, a new era for modernisation of TCM was launched with the successful completion of the Good Practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research in the Post-genomic Era (GP-TCM) project, the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) coordination action on TCM research. This 3.5-year project that involved inputs from over 200 scientists resulted in the production of 20 editorials and in-depth reviews on different aspects of TCM that were published in a special issue of Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2012; volume 140, issue 3). In this narrative review, we aim to summarise the findings of the FP7 GP-TCM project and highlight the relevance of TCM to modern medicine within a historical and international context. Advances in TCM research since the 1950s can be characterised into three phases: Phase I (1950s-1970s) was fundamental for developing TCM higher education, research and hospital networks in China; Phase II (1980s-2000s) was critical for developing legal, economic and scientific foundations and international networks for TCM; and Phase III (2011 onwards) is concentrating on consolidating the scientific basis and clinical practice of TCM through interdisciplinary, interregional and intersectoral collaborations. Taking into account the quality and safety requirements newly imposed by a globalised market, we especially highlight the scientific evidence behind TCM, update the most important milestones and pitfalls, and propose integrity, integration and innovation as key principles for further modernisation of TCM. These principles will serve as foundations for further research and development of TCM, and for its future integration into tomorrow’s medicine.

Keywords: Evidence-based medicine; Chinese herbal medicine; Acupuncture; History; Science; Efficacy; Safety; Integrity; Integration; Innovation

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