Does Chinese medicine really work?
Wednesday, February 11, 2004 Posted: 4:03 AM EST (0903 GMT)
HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- For thousands of years,
Chinese medicine has been used to treat everything from
broken bones to headaches.
Chinese doctors and many of their patients are convinced of its
effectiveness, but now scientists all over the world are joining
forces to establish its true worth.
In a laboratory at the Hong Kong Medical School, scientists are
trying to find out how the Thundergod Vine root that's been used
for centuries in Chinese medicine actually helps in the treatment of
Overseeing the experiments is rheumatologist, C.S. Lau who says that as a Chinese doctor, he
does believe that Chinese medicine helps and can be very effective in certain conditions.
But the main problem with traditional treatments is that he doesn't know how the medicine
actually works, he says.
It is this lack of knowledge that is preventing Chinese remedies from being taken more seriously
by conventional medical practitioners.
While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting Chinese cures, there is not enough scientific
proof that the remedies are doing what the doctor says they will.
Yale University's Dr. Tommy Cheng says that it's very difficult to address the essence of Chinese
medicine and so as a result, it is very difficult to properly introduce Chinese medicine to the world.
There are several factors preventing Chinese medicine from being taken more seriously.
Compared to conventional treatments, Chinese doctors often use several different compounds to
treat one problem. This raises questions over exactly which chemical is doing what, and also brings
problems with maintaining quality control over the drugs being used.
These drawbacks have prompted the Hong Kong government to call for the licensing of Chinese
medicines in order to counter doctors who are making claims about their remedies that can't be
In a bid to help bring Chinese medicine