Ever since Chinese medicine started gaining popularity as the hot favorite alternative medicine after modern western medicine, there has been much debate on its efficiency. Research results too have been inconclusive. Why then is there still so much hype about Chinese medicine?
To understand how Chinese medicine works, we must go back to understanding the basic principles of Chinese medicine – treating the root cause instead of just the symptoms. Factors that affect the root cause are the causative agent and the patient's own body constitution. Variations in either factor would result in changes to the herbs used or the amount of each herb used. This makes it hard to regulate the research done on Chinese medicine. For example, using the exact same concoction on all test subjects would not yield the exact same result, some may recover, some may experience no change and there are the others in between.
Another reason why scientific research all over the world encounter conflicting results is because of the difference in brewing procedures – difference in the amount of herbs used, difference in boiling times and even difference in herb source can result in a different concoction. This problem can probably be followed by following a stringent brewing procedure, but the safest option would probably be brewing all the herbs at a go and keeping them in a refrigerator for future use. Then there would be another problem, just how much is enough?
To overcome the above problems, some researchers have gone on to do an extraction of the active component of the herbs. Not only are they easier to keep, but they are also simpler to deal with in volumes. These results have yielded promising drug potentials for various illnesses and can be easily made into pills to be marketed. However, Chinese medicine doctors still greatly do not rely on administering such tablets, but instead still use the traditional method of mixing herbs together. Why is this so if the pills are effective? This is because the mixing of herbs can produce additional effects to treat the secondary discomforts that the patient is feeling, and mixing certain herbs together can have additive effects to treating the primary problem.
The final problem with scientific research is the test subjects used. First the drug is tested on culture plates of cells that can range from normal human cells to cancer cells, obtained anywhere from the stomach to cervix. If this cell culture stage is promising, then the drugs are tested on animals. Rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and monkeys are some of the probable test animals used. However, they are not humans, so the drug prove effective, there are human clinical trials after this animal testing stage. However, drugs that work for animals may not work for humans, and likewise drugs that work for humans may not be effective on animals. Therefore, is it right to conclude that since the drug does not work on the cells or animals used during scientific research then it would not be effective on humans?
How do we determine if Chinese medicine is really effective then? Based on the long history that Chinese medicine has been through, and having taken through the test of natural selection and emerging today to be the hot alternative medicine that it is now, this should be all the evidence that anyone would need.