Modern Western medicine generally prescribes treatments for specific diseases, often on the basis of their physiological cause. Traditional Chinese medicine, however, focuses on symptoms, and uses plant and animal products, minerals, acupuncture and moxibustion — the burning of the mugwort herb (Artemisia vulgaris) on or near the skin. But whether these methods are effective and, if they are, how they work remain a source of some derision. The greatest divide is in the testing. In the West, researchers test a drug's safety and efficacy in randomized, controlled trials. Traditional Chinese treatments are mixtures of ingredients, concocted on the spot on the basis of a patient's symptoms and characteristics and using theories passed down through generations.The article discusses how researchers in China and elsewhere, meanwhile, are advocating systems biology — the study of the interactions between proteins, genes, metabolites and components of cells or organisms — as a way to assess the usefulness of traditional medicines.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Can Systems Biology integrate Chinese and Western Meidicine?
Here is the PDF of an interesting article by Jane Qui that I pass on in part because I have been struck by the number of emails I have received from readers of this blog asking questions about alternative medicine and cures (a subject on which I an NOT an expert). The article addresses the question of whether a formidable gap can be addressed: