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Tuesday 25th October 2016

New cures from Chinese medicines?

18th February 2008

The Chinese have used a traditional approach to medication for thousands of years.


But until very recently western science has been reluctant to acknowledge that traditional Chinese medicine – or TCM – may have something to offer in the form of new remedies.

The Chinese government has long thought so and in recent years has been investigating whether its vast array of traditional herbal remedies can be converted into orthodox treatments.

Now, British scientists are to examine this theory more closely.

Dr Stephen Minger from King’s College London has been asked to lead a two-year project to see if TCM can be adapted for modern therapies. The focus will be on Alzheimer’s.

He is flying to Shanghai to bring Alzheimer’s specialists in the UK together with Chinese researchers to see if they can create a new medicine for the condition.

The inspiration came after a colleague indicated that a Chinese remedy could boost brain cell growth. Sceptical at first, he found that it did stimulate the cells to grow.

Dr Minger believes that TCM remedies, made from plant and animal products, can offer to something to evidence-based western medicine.

“I think there are clearly active ingredients in some of these plant extracts which have potent biological effects,? says Dr Minger.

With Alzheimers likely to be a huge burden on western healthcare, searching for new remedies is crucial.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust agrees that Chinese medicine could open up new avenues of treatment and why not, with experts now recognising that a quarter of all prescription medicines in the UK were originally developed from plants.


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