Herbal and Nutrient Medicines

Herbal Medicine has a long history of development, obviously, and current scientific refinement of the field is remarkable, especially in China. Chinese herbal medicine, unlike herbal science and practice in much of the world, has been largely preserved and supported, resulting in a refined science of herbal chemistry and effects that are well documented, and in the hospital setting, trained herbal pharmacologists prepare complex herbal decoctions and extracts from a very large selection of prepared herbs. Herbal medicine provides a very complex blend of low dose chemicals to achieve a broad array of effects in formula with almost no chance of adverse effects or toxicity in standard formula. In this sense its approach is at the opposite end of the spectrum of drugs from modern pharmacy, which provides a specific molecule at a near toxic dose to create a single potent effect. Patients should keep this in mind. The belief that herbal medicines are safe just because they are "natural" is misguided, as this assured safety comes from a history and science of professional herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is also traditionally linked to nutrient chemistry and dietary concerns, and works better as a part of a more complex holistic protocol in healthcare. Acupuncture stimulation provides a synergistic and systemic effect that makes herbal and nutrient medicine work even better by improving homeostatic function. The search for single miracle herbs in treatment is misguided, but there are instances where a single herb extract will have a significant effect, within a broader holistic treatment protocol. Patients should understand that the treatment protocol often has to address a broad array of physiological goals with herbal and nutrient medicine, requiring a relatively short course of a larger variety of synergistic chemicals to restore homeostasis, and should not treat herbal medicine with the same attitude as pharmaceutical treatment. Prescription, administration and preparation of herbal medicines for real medical care should be handled by highly trained professionals. Hopefully, one day herbal and nutrient medicine can again be integrated with standard care, and patient health will be more important that profits.

In the United States, native herbal medicine was cited as the main popular medical treatment until about 1915, when a systematic discouragement by such organizations as the AMA (American Medical Association) and the pharmaceutical industry resulted in much of this science being removed from standard medical curriculum. At this time the degree of Medical Doctor was restricted to University Medical School programs, and schools of medicine, such as the Eclectic School, which emphasized a holistic combination of botanical medicine, chemical medicine and physiotherapies rooted in the long study and scientific refinement of Native American medical practice by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, was phased out of legal practice. While our history would tell us that this was done to insure the "quack medicine" did not prevail, and to make medical practice safer, the result was obviously the opposite, as iatrogenic harm and death is now the biggest single cause of death in the United States, while harm and death from holistic medical practice is almost nonexistent. Much of this history is tied to the eventual creation of the system of pharmaceutical patent, and the legal determination that natural chemicals and medicines cannot be patented. This situation creates much incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to continue to try to undermine the popular use of herbal medicines. These questions are not binary, though, and there is obviously a place in medicine for both modern synthesized chemical drugs and herbal and nutrient medicines. Whether the public will support herbal and nutrient medicine and allow it to develop within the system of healthcare as an integrated specialty and achieve its best results is the question.

Use of herbal medicines and nutritional supplements has grown exponentially in recent years, despite strong health industry opposition. Unfortunately, much of this use of herbal and nutrient medicine involves self-prescribed herbs and supplements based merely upon claims of advertising, which are largely unregulated by the U.S. FDA. In the United States, where this herbal and nutrient industry is barely regulated, unlike most of the world market, much false information and poor quality product have been found in studies of products bought without professional prescription. In 2013, the New York Times noted that large studies using DNA testing found that nearly a third of all herbal products on the drugstore chain shelf did not contain the herbal extracts advertised on the label, and that a high percentage of these off-the-shelf products contained chemicals not listed on the label, some potentially harmful to individuals with allergies or who take pharmaceutical medicines with negative interactions with the drugs in the supposedly natural herbal and nutrient medicines. A Canadian study published in the journal BMC Medicine in 2015 randomly chose 44 commercial herbal products from drugstore shelves and found that in 30 of the 44 products, other chemicals were substituted for the herbal extracts on the label when DNA tested. In response to these reports, the New York State Attorney General's office conducted an investigation and found that, indeed, 4 out of 5 top-selling herbal medicines at 4 large drugstore chains, Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC did not actually contain DNA evidence of any of the herbs listed on the label, with many of these products containing nothing more than powdered vegetables and fillers, often combined with pharmaceutical chemicals not listed on the label. This unregulated manipulation of herbal and nutrient medicines is unacceptable, and could create harm for some individuals. Professional herbalists provide medicines that can be trusted. As herbal medicine in the United States becomes more accepted and popular, and more evidence-based, the systematic attempts to once again discourage its use, and public trust, is obviously stepping up. It is necessary for the public to take a realistic and objective view of this situation, and support professional herbalism and naturopathic medicine, which is not afflicted with this designed fraud and manipulation.

With the medical supplement industry now largely controlled by huge pharmaceutical companies, and total sales in the United States totaling more than $6 billion in 2013, this widespread marketing of fake herbal and nutrient medicines on store shelves is believed to have a purpose, discouraging many from trying herbal and nutrient medicine to treat their health problems to protect pharmaceutical profits. Many patients trying herbal medicines purchased from drugstores or bought online consequently believe that these herbal medicines do not work or have adverse effects, but much of this experience is now proven to be due to fake herbal products, and does not reflect on true professional herbal medicines. Patients are finally realizing that it pays to utilize professional guidance and prescription and obtain professional products with quality assurance when utilizing herbal and nutrient medicine. The only medical licenses in the United States that include professional certification of herbal prescription are that of the Licensed Acupuncturist (a TCM physician or L.Ac.) and Doctor of Naturopathy (ND). TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) continues to evolve in herbal medicine, and today traditional formulas are refined to include American native herbs, nutritional supplements, and organically certified sources, keeping pace with modern scientific research. Specific types of herbal chemicals are captured in either water extracts or alcohol and glycerite extracts, and standardization and careful control of chemical dosage, while not as important as in the production of synthesized chemicals in medicine, are assured in professional herbal and nutrient products.

Herbal medicine, or Herbology, is the practice of correctly combining herbs in formula to achieve medical goals in therapy, utilizing the correct extraction methods and mediums to obtain specific chemicals from herbs, and combining these numerous herbal chemicals with the nutrient molecules that work symbiotically with herbal chemistry to achieve the best holistic effects. Unlike pharmaceutical medicines, there are very many active chemicals in herbal and nutrient medical products, offering the patient a broad and holistic effect to address numerous aspects of a disease, injury or symptom. Herbal and nutrient medicine is not a substitute for pharmaceutical technology, but a means to achieve a better outcome in treatment through integration of complements to synthesized pharmaceutical molecules, many of which are still based on herbal chemicals.

Years of intense study are required to understand the actual physiological effects of herbal medicines, their symbiotic effects in formula, and the correct means of extraction of the array of chemicals from natural substances. While plant based medicines were the primary medical treatment in the United States up to the 1920's, and herbal medicines such as American Ginseng were once the chief export of the United States, the dominance of the chemical pharmaceutical industry all but stopped the practice entirely by the 1960's. This is because synthetic chemicals can be patented for high profits, while herbal medicines cannot be held to corporate patents. Herbal medicine thus threatens large pharmaceutical profits, and most of the negative attitude toward herbal medicine involves this economic bias, not the historic and current evidence of safety and efficacy of these valuable medicines. The intelligent choice in medical treatment is not a binary choice, black or white, but an integration of all medicines that are useful and effective, both synthetic and naturally derived.

As herbal and nutrient medicine again becomes accepted as evidence-based medicine, specific herbal chemicals are being highly studied and utilized in standard medicine as well. Unfortunately, there is almost no instruction in standard medical schools in herbal and nutrient medicine, and the Medical Doctor has been long indoctrinated in their study to deride this type of therapy. The most well studied and utilized evidence-based herbal chemicals, such as Resveratrol and Curcumin, are consistently promoted as being derived from common foods, such as wine and turmeric, while the sources of these valuable herbal chemicals are actually from the Traditional Chinese herbs Polygonum cuspidatum (Hu zhang), and Curcuma zedoaria or aromatica (E zhu or Yu jin). As enhanced and standardized chemicals from Chinese herbs and foods become widely accepted in standard medicine, it is important that the science of herbal and nutrient medicine is respected, and professional herbalists integrated into standard care. There is a long history of the study of isolated chemicals from herbal medicines, and the dangers of using standardized high-dose isolated chemicals rather than the complete symbiotic array of chemicals evolved in the plant. Some of the most potent chemicals in plant herbs have some toxicity, which is ameliorated by other chemicals evolved in the plant physiology, obviously to protect the plant from toxicity. For example, in 2015, the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, released a current report of the study of Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang, the main source of resveratrol, or trans-resveratrol, which has been developed as a synthesized analog in the pharmaceutical industry as well, and has shown great positive effects in treating an array of serious diseases. This university study showed that Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang, is widely distributed in the world and long used worldwide as a medicine, with over 67 chemical compounds isolated and studied. The pharmacological uses of these chemicals holds tremendous prospects, yet the varied quinones, stilbenes, flavonoids, coumarins and lignans are shown to act synergistically in the plant to counter inflammation, infection, cancerous mutation, and to regulate metabolism. Use of the whole plant extract presents a much safer approach, and in many ways better treatment results, with a lower dosage and lack of dose-dependent toxicity. Studies in Asia have also found that the now famous Artemisinin, derived from the Chinese herb Artemesia annua, or Qing hao, which finally received acknowledgement from the Nobel Prize committee in 2015, as one of the most important medicines of our time, works better to treat other parasitic infections, and cancers, when combined with other active chemicals in the herb. The development of more specific herbal medicines to treat difficult and threatening diseases is finally becoming accepted in standard medicine, and will present a new phase of development in herbal medicine.

In recent years professional herbal prescription and nutraceuticals have been well studied and scientifically reviewed and endorsed by the NIH, WHO, the European Union, and many countries and governments around the world. Today, more and more medical doctors are turning to herbal products and nutritional supplements and the pharmaceutical industry is investing heavily. One Traditional Chinese herb, Artemesia qinghao, with an active chemical called artemesin, or artemesinin, has been proven to be much more effective to treat the world's former number one cause of death, malaria, than any synthetic pharmaceutical product, and had been adopted as the chief medicine worldwide by the WHO, with successful outcomes. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) added a combination of a semi-synthetic derivative of this herbal chemical, artusenate, and the drug mefloquine, also derived from an herb, quinine from the Cinchona tree bark, to the WHO list of essential drugs. Studies have shown that Artemesia qinghao extract has a 97 percent cure rate for acute malaria, without side effects, though, while the side effects of its pharmaceutical counterpart, mefloquine (Lariam), were alarming enough to prompt U.S. marines to refuse the drug in Liberia in 2003, and the U.S. FDA to issue a black box warning in 2013, citing the risk that serious CNS side effects could become permanent after the use of this synthetic quinine. The story of why this effective herbal medicine artemesinin, or Qinghaosu, is altered to a semi-synthetic form and then combined with a pharmaceutical synthesized quinine, instead of being offered in its true herbal form, proven safe and effective, is now a long and complex story that fully illustrates the struggles of herbal medicine to even be allowed in standard medical practice by its wealthy big brother pharmaceutical industry. In 2015, a prominent cancer researcher in the United States, Dr. Richard Schlegel of the Georgetown University Medical Center, found that artemisinin, the active refined extract of Artemesia Qinghao was also very effective as an anticancer agent. For the first time in history, Dr. Schlegel was able to develop a medium to keep cancer cells alive in the laboratory for study, and testing hundreds of novel pharmaceuticals and herbal chemicals, he found that Artemesinin showed greater anticancer effects against specific cancer cell lines than anything else he was studying. We see that even isolated and standardized chemicals from Chinese herbs can not only treat serious diseases, but at the same time provide preventive effects for other serious diseases. Can synthesized pharmaceuticals achieve such broad beneficial effects? The answer is emphatically no. In fact we must constantly counter the serious adverse effects of synthetic medicines.

In September of 2011, the prestigious Lasker Award for clinical medical research, the American equivalent to the Nobel Prize for Medicine, was given to a TCM physician and researcher from China that was the former head of the Chinese Materia Medica (medicinal herbal institute) in Beijing, Tu Youyou, and in 2015 the Nobel committee followed the Lasker Award with a Nobel Prize for the research confirming this Chinese herbal medicine, artemesin, as such a safe and effective cure for one of the most deadly diseases, malaria. The use of Artemesin was heavily fought by the pharmaceutical industry for decades, despite the fact that it has saved many millions of lives for decades, and continued warnings that resistant strains of Plasmodium protists, which cause malaria, could result from overuse, unfounded as of 2013, has resulted in adoption of the semi-synthetic derivative combined with the synthesized quinine, mefloquine. The insistence on utilizing artemesin, or artemesinin, in standard practice only when it is combined with a synthetic quinine, mefloquine, which comes with such serious warnings and risks, highlights the continuing struggle to utilize safe and effective herbal medicines even when they are proven to be the most effective, and safest treatment. The ability to patent synthesized chemicals and profit heavily has driven this process, not public health concerns. Nonetheless, modern medicine is finding that important herbal medicines from China have produced a number of essential drugs and cures in the last couple of decades, such as Tamiflu, Artemesinin, Quinine, Allantoin, Anisodine, Atropine, Camphor, Colchicine, L-Dopa, Vincristine, and many more that are still in use. The 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine was shared by two researchers, William C. Campbell of Drew University and Satoshi Omura of Kitasoto University, who discovered that another chemical in herbal medicine, found in bacterial fermentation, could produce a very reliable cure for another common but serious parasitic disease caused by roundworms, producing Avermectin. A number of specific active chemicals in herbs are also emerging as potent medicines, such as Curcumin, Berberine, Resveratrol, and Quercetin, with attempts made to create patentable synthetic versions occurring in the pharmaceutical industry. As scientific research continues to focus on plant chemistry, or phytochemicals, more stories like this will emerge. Hopefully, the public will learn the full story of herbal scientific research and demand an integration of effective and proven herbal treatments into standard practice. In a free market, there is no reason that effective herbal medicines cannot be professionally prescribed and integrated into standard care if they are proven to be safe and effective. The only drawback is the subject of patent law, and the inability to patent natural medicines, which greatly decreases profiteering, which is good for the patient but bad for the industry.

In 2014, the World Health Organization called for the integration of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) into health systems in the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023 guidelines, declaring: "As the uptake of T&CM increases, there is a need for its closer integration into health systems. Policy makers and consumers should consider how T&CM may improve patient experience and population health. Important questions of access as well as population and public health issues must be addressed."

Why is herbal medicine gaining popularity? Alarming evidence of serious injury from pharmaceutical products continues to dominate the news today, and more and more patients and physicians are seeking safer alternatives to synthetic drugs when possible, or even ways to incorporate herbal medicines to reduce the necessary dosage and side effects of pharmaceuticals. Many patients are tired of the numerous side effects and want to improve their health and reduce chronic dependence upon prescription medication. Since chemical medicines utilize the same metabolic, or catabolic, pathways to break down these chemicals, taking too many pharmaceuticals at once presents dangers that the effective circulating dosages will be altered, increasing adverse effects or diminishing effectiveness. While prescription pharmaceuticals are often necessary to control disease, adopting a more conservative and benign treatment with integration of herbal and nutrient medicine can often be tried without health risks to see if it works for the individual, and this strategy is increasingly integrated into the standard practice of modern medicine despite resistance. Your TCM herbalist can work with you and your prescribing M.D.'s to achieve this goal, although there is still little cooperation from Medical Doctors. Herbal medicine, professionally prescribed, is extremely safe. You can do your own research and find virtually no cases of injury from professional herbal prescription. While there are numerous anecdotal warnings about potential herbal dangers, actual cases of injury are hard to find. While adverse effects do occur, these are generally mild, infrequently seen, and quickly subside with changes in your prescription. Professional herbalists are aware and highly trained in toxicities, contraindications with other pharmaceuticals and other herbs, and prescribe these medicines safely.

There is no group of herbalists with a greater history of organized herbal science than is seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact, many of the methods of classification of herbal chemistry seen worldwide originated in China. The texts that support TCM herbal prescription address both single herbs and formulas and incorporate current scientific study. Naturopaths, medical doctors, homeopaths and Western herbalists all utilize the information in Traditional Chinese herbalism. Since the science is so complex, treatment results may vary widely from one prescriber to the next, and it is advised to choose your professional herbalist wisely.

For more information on herbology and herbal prescription, refer to other articles on this website under For Patient, Diseases and Injuries, or access the article on research in herbal medicine under For Practitioners, Evidence-based Herbal Medicine. Just click on the calligraphy for acupuncture and moxibustion at the bottom of the page to get back to the homepage, the 3-line symbol at the top left, or utilize the search window for specific herbal and nutrient questions or topics. Research for nutritional medicine is also provided in these articles with links to published scientific studies and human clinical trials. All of the research cited is of high quality with links provided to the study summaries or the studies themselves. To go straight to the research, just access the sections of the articles entitled Additional Information and Links to Scientific Studies. The information on this website is limited to accepted modern scientific studies, rather than standard TCM teachings, to provide what is now considered "evidence-based" medicine.

Nutritional medicine, both the advice of dietary changes and the use of specific nutritional, or food based, molecules in medicine has gained great respect in the last decade. Numerous scientific studies, and now human clinical trials, as well as the research by pharmaceuticals into utilizing improved forms of common nutrient and herbal molecules, are available to the TCM physician and Naturopathic Doctor today to help guide therapy. The advancement of this science is astounding, and each year we see that research has provided us much improved products to achieve therapeutic goals. Often, by combining nutrient medicine with herbal prescription, the specific and individualized goals of therapy are achieved with much greater efficiency. While commercial advice continues to try to get patients to utilize nutrient medicine without professional guidance, the public is finally becoming aware that the array of miracle cure claims are untrue, and that the array of nutrient medicines is huge, requiring some expertise to utilize these medicines effectively. While the idea that one specific nutrient purchased for the rest of your life may indeed cure your problem is a great notion, it is almost always untrue. What is apparent is that an intelligent course of nutrient molecules, adaptive to the individual and the changing course of their individual disease, may have dramatic benefits. While many physicians untrained in nutrient medicine now tout the use of tests of circulating levels of nutrients to guide therapy, this is also misleading, as circulating blood levels do not reveal a clear picture of deficiency and need. For instance, a low level in blood circulation of a particular vitamin may mean that the body has experienced either increased need or deficient intake or production. Simply providing more nutrient supplementation does not guarantee a resolution to this problem. Most patients in developed countries do not have many routine deficiencies of nutrient chemicals, and some of these deficiencies noted in a high percentage of the population are due to secondary problems, not nutritional intake. A thoughtful analysis will reveal the correct course of therapy.

Additional Information and Links to Research Data

  1. Many developed countries have a system of evaluation and regulation that respects and supports herbal medicine as in integrated part of standard care. Here is a brief synopsis of the system in Japan: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S104366189990645X
  2. A 2014 multi-center article reviewing the vast subject of the history and present state of herbal medicines and resources, by experts at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, and Hong Kong University, in China, the Medical University of Graz, in Austria, the University of South Florida, and the American Academy of Natural Medicine, in the U.S.A., provides a thorough overview of herbal formulary and Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM). The fact that 85 percent of the world population still depends on traditional herbal medicine to some extent, and obviously because it works, is often overlooked in modern civilization: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/525340/
  3. A report from the Institute of Science in Society outlines the potential for Chinese Herbal Medicine on the global market in standard medicine. China has worked with the World Trade Organization and has advanced an herbal cancer preparation that was patented to stage 2 human clinical trials in the United States. After creating a synthetic version of the herbal chemical artemisinin to satisfy the demands of the industry in antimalarial drug acceptance by the World Health Organization, and not patenting this medication, which is now widely used across the globe, in forms patented by the pharmaceutical industry, the Chinese have focused efforts through Hong Kong University to develop such patented forms or standardized herbal chemicals. Such work will change medicine as we know it, and will finally show that herbal medicine has always had great potential, whether used traditionally in formulas, or in standardized chemical forms: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GCM1.php
  4. The World Health Organization has recognized that herbal and nutrient medicine is still a big part of essential healthcare throughout the world, and has worked with the International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines (IRCH) since its establishment in 2006, with annual meetings expanding from Beijing, China to countries throughout the world, including Canada, Brazil and Portugal: http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/traditional/irch/en/
  5. The Beijing Declaration was adopted in 2008 by the World Health Organization (WHO) congress on Complementary and Integrative Medicine, called the WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine, as a guideline adopted internationally to achieve global standards of care with traditional medicines, treatments and practices: http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/traditional/congress/beijing_declaration/en/
  6. A WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023 was published to support integration of Complementary Medicine worldwide within the standard medical industry and public healthcare systems. The main goals of this strategy are to build a broader knowledge base to support national policies inclusive of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM), to strengthen regulation and quality assurance of herbal and nutrient medicines, and improve education of CIM physicians and practitioners, and to promote universal health coverage by integrating Traditional or Complementary Medicine into all health service delivery and promoting informed choices about self-health care to improve health outcomes: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/92455/1/9789241506090_eng.pdf?ua=1
  7. A 2015 statement from the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, at the International Forum on Traditional Medicine, further outlines the problems and biases inherent in the effective use of Traditional Medicine as an adjunct and complementary medical care. Dr. Chan makes clear that the WHO studies have shown that the reasons long cited to discourage traditional herbal medicine and other traditional medical treatments, that it will discourage patients from seeking standard care, and that it is not proven to work, are false, and that the reality worldwide is that standard medical care, and even essential medicines, are not available to many populations, and that increasing specialization, limitations on the development of new drugs, and increasing adverse health effects from standard care point to the need for greater integration of safe and effective Traditional Medicine that complements standard care. The need for regulation and standardization of Traditional Medicine has not been realized in 80 percent of WHO Member States, and the standard medical industry uses immense resources of advertising and publication to discourage integration of Traditional Medicine to protect profits. Such statements from the leading health organization in the world were long overdue, and the adoption of these recommendations will now be very difficult. Hopefully, times and attitudes will change as quickly as possible: http://www.who.int/dg/speeches...http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2015/traditional-medicine/en/
  8. A 2014 study at the University of California at Irvine showed that a chemical in the Chinese herb Corydalis yanhusuo, one of the main herbs used in formulas to treat pain traditionally, called DHCB (dehydrocarybulbine), dramatically decreased both inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain, which is very difficult to relieve with current pharmaceutical pain medicaton, and did not produce the tolerance with continued use seen with synthetic pain medications. Of course, the effects are dose-dependent, and most patients in the U.S. are reluctant to take enough dosage to relieve their pain effectively due to decades of negative advice on herbal medicine from standard medicine. UC Irvine has created a project to assemble an herbalome with reverse pharmacology to provide evidence of a broad array of Chinese herbal chemicals. We shall see whether this database survives, as other universities have created herbal phytochemical databases that were taken down in the last two decades: http://news.uci.edu/press-releases/chinese-herbal-compound-relieves-inflammatory-and-neuropathic-pain/
  9. A 2010 review of the printed studies of herbal and nutrient medicines for relief of pain, by experts at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. outlines the few well studied herbal and nutrient medications that are proven effective in pain relief as part of an integrated protocol. While this type of study is still only reluctantly printed in standard medical journals, there was strong evidence of efficacy for Curcumin (E zhu, Yu jin and Jiang huang, or turmeric), White Willow bark extract (the origin of aspirin), Boswellia serrata (Ru xiang, or Frankincense tree resin, Olibanum), Pycnogenol (pine bark extract rich in lignans), Capsaicin, Resveratrol (from Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang), Uncaria tomentosa (called Cat's claw in South America, but Gout teng in China), and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (Krill oil) and green tea polyphenols. This small list does not reflect all of the herbal chemicals studied in Asia for pain relief, or all of the herbal and nutrient medicines studied for promotion of tissue healing. Treating holistic medicine like we treat standard allopathic remedies, looking for just the one chemical in treatment, is not sensible, though, and a larger perspective is needed to successfully integrate herbal medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011108/
  10. A 2015 article in the London Telegraph shows that Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine is indeed being taken seriously, with companies such as Phynova, a phytomedicine company based in Oxford, releasing a line of drugs based completely on TCM herbology supported by scientific research at many University Medical Schools. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Glaxo-Kline-Smith are also investing heavily into the Chinese research to produce what is expected to be a huge surge in use of non-patented herbal medicines in the near future: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/pharmaceuticalsandchemicals/11671942/New-over-the-counter-drugs-based-on-Chinese-medicine-to-hit-UK-chemists.html
  11. A 2013 report from the the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, the Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology shows that presently about 80 percent of the world's pharmaceutical medicines that treat microbial disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer have their origin in plant chemistry, and that about half of the medicinals in the world today are derived from plants, or herbal medicine. The amount of sales generated from these abundant medicines are miniscule compared to the total pharmaceutical sales, since they cannot be patented and require much less investment in research and development. Herbal medicine has not only provided humanity with most of its effective cures in history, but is a viable resource for future medicines, and has the ability to keep healthcare spending down. The denigration of herbal medicine by the medical industry is unwarranted, and this article explains how much scientific data is available to support herbal medicine: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/627375/