Traditional Chinese medicine going global with new alliance

08:22, August 11, 2010      

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A Chinese doctor treats an Ecuadorian patient through acupuncture. (File photo by Hao Yunfu / Xinhua)

A government-backed industry alliance to further promote traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) throughout the world has been launched in Beijing - the first such organization in the country.

Members of the alliance include Peking University, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, the health ministry's Development Center for Medical Science and Technology, and 12 domestic pharmaceutical corporations.

The number of countries and regions that recognize the advantages and special features of TCM in treating diseases are on the rise, and many countries are seeking cooperation with China on TCM, according to Wang Guoqiang, vice-minister of the health ministry, and also the director of the TCM State Administration.

China has signed more than 90 pacts related to TCM cooperation with about 70 countries and regions. TCM has spread into more than 160 countries and regions internationally, official statistics showed.

"However, the international interests and recognition focus mainly on TCM therapies such as acupuncture, instead of the medicines and the industry in China where the ancient medical science originated," said Wang Shoudong, a licensed acupuncture practitioner based in the United States.

Traditional Chinese medicines, mostly mixtures of a number of ingredients or medicinal plants, are recognized only as dietary supplements in the Western world, despite a well-proven efficacy in China for thousands of years, experts said.

Meanwhile, in recent years, the global market for the herbal medicines has been growing at an annual rate of 10 to 20 percent, experts estimated.

However, China only accounts for less than 10 percent of the global market in herbal medicines, and the rest is dominated by Japan and South Korea, official statistics showed.

Therefore, promoting Chinese TCM practitioners, as well as TCM businesses, to go global has become a top priority, Wang said.

In late July, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of Zhimingde Wuqingtongtizuhe, a domestically grown natural herbal TCM product, as a dietary supplement.

Previously, the product by Zhimingde International, a manufacturer and distributor of herbal-based health products, was approved by drug authorities in Australia and Singapore.

"That's a successful try by the Chinese TCM industry and will help with TCM's world popularity," said Zhang Heyong, former deputy director of the State TCM Administration.

By Shan Juan, China Daily


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