Strict stan­dards can en­sure pu­rity of TCM herbs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - AF­TER THE RE­LEASE

of the first white pa­per on tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, the gov­ern­ment must now fo­cus on pro­tect­ing the qual­ity of the herbal sources used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine treat­ments. Bei­jing Youth Daily com­mented on Wed­nes­day:

Soil con­tam­i­na­tion, wa­ter pol­lu­tion and the overuse of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cide all threaten the qual­ity and pu­rity of the plants used in TCM, most of which are now com­mer­cially grown in­stead of be­ing col­lected from the wild. The de­te­ri­o­rat­ing qual­ity of the plants used for treat­ments means it is dif­fi­cult even for the most ex­pe­ri­enced TCM prac­ti­tion­ers to pre­scribe the cor­rect quan­ti­ties re­quired for a treat­ment to be ef­fec­tive.

TCM treat­ments are based on the ac­cu­mu­lated ex­pe­ri­ence passed from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other ac­cord­ing to the medic­i­nal ef­fects of the wild plants used in the past. To­day, the com­mer­cial farm­ing of these plants means their po­tency may not be the same as those found in the wild.

TCM at­taches great im­por­tance to the pu­rity of the plants used in treat­ments, some of the rarest and thus most valu­able plants tra­di­tion­ally were only found in a cer­tain place be­cause of the lo­cal cli­mate and soil. But the com­mer­cial farm­ing of these lu­cra­tive plants means that is no longer the case.

Some busi­ness­peo­ple plant the ex­pen­sive herbs ir­re­spec­tive of lo­cal nat­u­ral con­di­tions, and boost the out­put through ex­ces­sive uses of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cide, in dis­re­gard for the herbs’ true med­i­cal ef­fects.

As Wang Guo­qiang, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine, said in Bei­jing on Tues­day at the launch of the first white pa­per on TCM, the weak­en­ing of the ef­fec­tive­ness of plants used in TCM treat­ments, if it is not curbed, will harm the cred­i­bil­ity of TCM.

In this sense, pub­lish­ing the first white pa­per on TCM is only the be­gin­ning of the ef­forts needed to pro­tect and spread TCM.

Now what is needed are na­tional stan­dards for the qual­ity and pu­rity of plants used in TCM treat­ments.

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