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Three Leaders in Integrative Medicine – Part 2: Research

The UCLA Center for East-West Medicine presents the first in its series of visual history interviews with more than 100 prominent leaders in the field of integrative East-West Medicine in China, "Tracing the development of integrative medicine in China: Perspectives from three prominent leaders."


 Part 2 of 4: “On Research”

“We are still looking for a way to concisely capture the complexity of Chinese medicine in research,” says Wu Xianzhong, former president (1989-1995) of the Chinese Association of Integrative Medicine.

Chen Keji, former president (1995-2008) of the Chinese Association of Integrative Medicine, stresses that in researching integrative East-West medicine, quality control and evidence-based research are essential. He believes that the most important thing is to develop quality controlled treatment programs. While personal and historical experience is valuable, experience must be transformed into evidence-based guidelines that everyone can use.

Chen Kaixian, current president of the Chinese Association of Integrative Medicine since 2008, explains why the use of reductionist methods may miss the mark in studying herbal formulas. For 70 years since its founding in 1932, the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica focused primarily isolating effective chemical compounds in natural plants using modern Western pharmaceutical research methods. However, although this method can turn Chinese herbs and other medicinals into drugs with clearly outlined effects, it does not explain how medicinals work in Chinese medical theory, where effects are often only produced from a mixture of multiple ingredients is needed.

Despite the challenges, Chen Keji and Chen Kaixian point out that several breakthrough studies in integrative East-West research show promise for proving the efficacy of IM using modified research models in the future.


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