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Originally published November 16 2014

Traditional Chinese medicine effectiveness studied with benefit of modern data analysis

by Jennifer Lilley

(NaturalNews) Use of traditional Chinese medicine in the Western culture has been closely scrutinized and, often, downright criticized. On one hand, there are stories of people who credit the use of Chinese modalities for their ability to reverse ailments and vastly improve overall health. On the other hand, plenty of skeptics -- from medical professionals to people desperately in need of healing -- remain adamant that the lack of scientific data regarding the Eastern approach renders its effectiveness questionable.

Therefore, there's often been a clear separation between the two practices. Traditional Chinese approaches which consist mainly of the use of herbs, acupuncture and tai chi often sit in one corner of the boxing ring, Eastern pharmaceuticals and their medical procedures in the other. (1)

But that appears to be changing.

The effort to integrate traditional Chinese medicine with Western approaches

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, there's a surge among respected U.S. and European university researchers interested in bringing the two often divergent practices together rather than keeping them on either side of an invisible dividing line. (1) In tandem with Chinese universities, experts in the United States and Europe are in the process of assessing the Chinese belief that the body operates as a whole network, determining ways to marry that concept with how proteins and genes operate throughout the entire body instead of only analyzing single molecules or genes. (2)

The effort involves applying more modern data analyses to the traditional Chinese medicine approach so that the two can ultimately blend. To achieve this, experts note that it's an involved process well worth exploring that includes establishing guidelines, sorting through scientific definitions and getting on board with standardizations that will give herbal concoctions a more recognized role in the healthcare realm. (2) Such efforts will hopefully lead to findings that are reproducible and therefore allow traditional Chinese medicine to be more widely adapted as a viable approach to bolster health.

Western and Eastern views coming together on a variety of health fronts

For example, the Netherlands' Jan van der Greef, a professor of analytical biosciences at Leiden University, is looking at an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine called qi, or life energy, as it pertains to the environment and forces in the body. (2)

Yale University's pharmacology professor Yung-Chi Cheng and others are assessing an herbal concoction which has already demonstrated effectiveness in chemotherapy settings, that may have the ability to lessen nausea and diarrhea while enhancing colon-cancer treatment. (2)

Dr. Shao Li, deputy director of the bioinformatics division at Tsinghua University in Beijing says that researchers in his group feel that "in such a big-data era, a new way can be eventually found to connect Eastern and Western medicine at the molecular and systematic levels." (2)

Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years. Many people today feel that it's effective in treating a range of conditions; Chinese herbs such as thorowax root and Oriental ginseng, for example, have been seen as ideal remedies for those with ADHD. Thorowax root produces a sedative effect that may lessen hyperactivity and impulse behavior, while Oriental ginseng is thought to benefit those individuals who need to improve memory, reduce stress and boost concentration levels. (3)

Herbs such as dragon's blood (Sanguis draxonis) and wheel wingnut (Cyclocarya paliurus) have been touted for their role in helping regulate insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. (3,4) Other modalities such as acupuncture are also often considered beneficial among prediabetic individuals and those with type 2 diabetes, as it not only helps alleviate ankle and foot pain but can improve neuropathy symptoms as well. (4)






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