The Cleveland Clinic, one of the country's top hospitals, is a surprising venue for the dispensing of herbs, a practice that is well established in China and other Eastern countries but has yet to make inroads in the U.S. because of a lack of evidence proving their effectiveness.
Up until very recently, herbal medicine was considered pretty much a pariah as a topic of conversation in polite medical circles. After all, why talk to a patient of an inexpensive 2,000 year-old Chinese herbal remedy for arthritis, when the drug rep for an arthritis pill manufacturer just slipped you four tickets to the Chinese Medicineplayoffs?
Products labeled "ginseng," "echinacea," and "ginkgo biloba" often contain no trace of these substances, according to an investigation announced today.
We are just beginning to understand the complexities of herbal medicine, with its multiplicity of active chemicals in a single herb, and the interaction of a mixture of herbs found in traditional therapies. Previously, scientific research relied on the drug development model, which focused on a single compound and mode of action.
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Traditional Chinese medicine originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use herbs, acupuncture, and other methods to treat a wide range of conditions. In the United States, TCM is considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. This fact sheet provides a general overview of TCM and suggests sources for additional information.