Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chinese Medicine May Soon Become Mainstream

Chinese Botanicals

Ginger Tea: “Ginger is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in China as a medicinal practice to reduce nausea. Ginger was used by the ancient Greeks to prevent nausea after feasting. Recent studies suggest that it may help people with chemotherapy-induced nausea as well,” says About.com
Photo Source: Food.com

There has long been interest in the West of non-traditional, non-pharmacological medicines, most notably those that come from China, which has had a long history of providing plant-based curatives to its citizens. An article, by Pamela Boykofff, in CNN says that, with changes in FDA rules, more Chinese medicines will receive regulatory approval and become consumer items in the United States.

Boykoff writes:
At Chi-Med's labs in Shanghai, a group of 70 chemists has been working for a decade to try and crack the mysteries of Chinese medicine. The company's scientists are attempting to break 1,300 medicinal herbs into their component parts and then test them for global use against diseases. It's an ambitious effort and one that looks close to paying off. Chi-Med, in partnership with Nestle, has started the first worldwide phase III clinical testing trials—the final step before approval for sale—for a botanical drug based on Chinese Traditional Medicine.
If Chi-Med and Nestle succeed in winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, the companies will be at the forefront of efforts to export Chinese medicine beyond its loyal following at home. They'll also have tackled the central problem in taking Chinese medicine global: how do you get a centuries-old remedy through the rigors of modern government regulation? "The simpler the product, the better at this stage," says Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg. "The more similar it is to conventional drugs, the better from the FDA standpoint." That's why the company has started with a drug called HMPL-004, which treats inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
The testing was made possible by a change in the FDA policies and procedures in 2004 regarding botanical drug products. The new guidelines removed some of the obstacles involved in getting an investigational new drug application (IND), the first step in getting a drug developed and marketed in the U.S. Since the guidelines were introduced, the FDA has only approved two botanical drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Fulzaq, an antidiarrheal drug used for HIV/AIDS patients and derived from the red sap of the Croton lechleri plant, was approved in December 2012. Veregen, a treatment for warts based on green tea extract, was given the green light in 2006.
By Chinese medicine standards, HMPL-004 is a simple drug. It's a single extract from a single herb, called andrographis, which has a long history of use in Asia for stomach problems.
This is good news all around; Chinese medicines have the potential to provide westerners complementary methods to combat a host of diseases that affect humanity. The more choices the better for consumers, and for patients seeking relief from illnesses that affect them. In many all-too-many cases, there are serious side effects resulting from taking pharmacological products.

For example, chemotherapy, which I am currently undergoing, often induces severe nausea, an unpleasant side-effect that suppresses the appetite and lasts for days.Ginger tea is as effective relief from nausea as any pill that I have taken, and I prefer the tea with some honey and a slice of lime or lemon. It’s both soothing and tastes great. These are the kind of remedies that humanity needs. All the best to the Chinese scientists in their endeavours

You can read the rest of the article at [CNN]

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