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Chemical Foundation of TCM Becomes Clearer

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer

One of the greatest challenges to mainstream Western medicine's acceptance of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been the contrast between the ancient principles and language of TCM and its more modern counterpart.

New research from the United Kingdom may point the way to removing that barrier, however.

In looking at the categorical terms used by TCM practitioners, UK scientists analyzed the patterns among 8,411 compounds from 240 Chinese herbs and how they related to those categories. The team mapped their findings and found that many TCM categories can be meaningfully translated to Western terminology. One example: the "fire poison" group of TCM herbs compares favorably with Western anti-inflammatory medicines.

Researchers identified two benefits to seeking analogies between the systems. "This is likely to benefit both in the search for new drugs and, equally significantly, in understanding how Chinese medicine works," the authors note in their study.

Source: Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, November/December 2007 issue (American Chemical Society)

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