Ways of modernising herbal medicine analysis

Growing Wiser; Herbal Medicine,” and it was published in The Economist (U.S.) in 2007. The article begins by referring to the age-old debate between traditional (pharmaceutical) medicine and herbal medicine. The irony here is that many of the sanitized, manufactured pharmaceutical cures we swallow today are herbal in origin. The process that purifies them and makes them more reliable and more effective is an improvement on herbal remedies that have been used for many years.

According to the article, Indian herbal remedies are being repackaged by an Indian-based company called The Golden Triangle Partnership. The purpose of the partnership is to legitimize herbal medicine by making it more scientific. This seems like a good idea to me, melding the old with the new in order to keep people healthy.

Reference: Growing wiser; Herbal medicine. (Modernising herbal medicine) (2007) The

Economist (U.S.) v384 i8542 p71US


Chinese herbalism has been used for over 4,000 years (Skinner, n.d.). That fact in itself attests to the success of this approach to treating the body. Chinese herbalism takes a holistic approach, considering the entire body as a whole instead of focusing on specific parts that are not well. When an individual is in pain, Chinese herbalism considers the organism as a whole: “Illness is seen as a disharmony or imbalance among these aspects of the individual” (Skinner, n.d.). We are more familiar with certain components of it that are widely practiced in this country, such as massage and acupuncture.

Another interesting concept about Chinese herbalism is that the roles of the patient and physician are reversed. Instead of the white-coated M.D. who orchestrates a treatment plan for a relatively passive and obedient patient, Chinese herbalism puts control in the hands of the patient. After all, it is his or her health that is at stake. Practitioners of Chinese herbalism guide the patient to learn more about himself, a process that is in itself a sort of therapy. This is not to say that Chinese herbalists disregard Western medicine. Rather, they supplement it in ways that have been scientifically proven. For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy often have immune systems that become compromised. Patients who undergo chemotherapy and supplement it with an herb called astragulus (huang qi) were found to have an improved degree of immune protection (Skinner, n.d.).

What was most fascinating to me was to learn that Chinese physicians did not learn the parts of the human body as Western physicians do, through the dissection of cadavers. Chinese physicians feel it dishonors the body and the ancestors of the deceased to cut open the body. Instead, over a period of years, they gained a deep understanding of the working of the body in a respectful manner. Chinese herbalists diagnose and prescribe differently as well. Instead of treating the symptom itself, the Chinese physician takes into account the whole person, observing features (dry lips? pale complexion? sour breath? lethargic movements). These indications, combined with what the patient says, give the Chinese physician an insight into what is really going on with the patient, but in a non-intrusive way (Skinner, n.d.).

Reference: Skinner, P. Herbalism, traditional Chinese. (n.d.) Gale Encyclopedia, pp. 1786-1789


The authors of this article review a book about ayurvedic therapies, curiously posing the question,: why another book on ayurveda? India is filled with such books, with 4-5 new titles emerging each month globally” (Bhattacharya & Cott, 2005). Why, indeed? Apparently, the editor of this book, L.C. Mishra, brings a significant amount of cross-training to the table, having studied both biomedical and ayurvedic medicine. What Mishra tries to do in this volume is to approach the language of ayurvedic medicine, seeking a way to describe it so that it is more readily understood by traditional Western practitioners. This may seem like a pretty basic point, but it is actually a very good place to begin: without appropriate language to discuss these medicines in their similarities and in their differences, true understanding of how well they can function and complement each other is not fully realized.

Reference: Bhattacharya, B., & Cott, J. (2005). Scientific basis for ayurvedic therapies.

Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology. v12 i10 p771(2).

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