While modern medicine has a very well established system of clinical research which insists on evidence-based methodology, traditional medicine has not developed its own system of research, despite of its length of existence and unreceding popularity. Since there are still many problem areas in modern medicine, and traditional medicine possesses good records of efficacy in those areas, it is natural that experts in both areas should collaborate in a proper exploration to put traditional medicine into popular utilisation. One way of achieving this is to follow the requirements of modern clinical trials as much as possible. Obvious obstacles include the uncertain origin of supply of herbs and the inconsistency of their quality, manufacturing of convenient products (which has improved) and methodology for clinical trials. One practical way in pursuing this joint venture is to apply the efficacy-driven approach, which suggests the following: i) Using a simple herbal formula to try solving one difficult clinical problem and start an evidence-based clinical trial using methodology acceptable to standard clinical trials i.e., one which is randomised and placebo-controlled; ii) Organising parallel laboratory experiments to understand the mode of action; iii) Making sure that the quality of herbs or their extracts are of the best standard; and iv) Optimising the formula, once it is proven efficacious in a clinical trial, to give an upgraded product.
Chinese medicine individualises its treatment plan and practice and refutes any general law. Therefore, Chinese medicine practitioners do not have the tradition of research.
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