Nature Outlook |

Traditional Asian Medicine

Using scientific techniques to investigate the claims of traditional medicine as practised in countries such as China and Japan can help sort effective treatments from unfounded superstitions — and perhaps give modern medicine a few insights into holistic approaches borne from thousands of years of herbal remedies.

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Although modern medicine is established in Asia, traditional medicine also plays a big role in people's healthcare — and is gaining in popularity in other countries too.

Outlook | | Nature

The concepts of Asia's traditional medicines might sound alien to Western ears, but some of them are starting to evolve to fit scientific investigation.

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Systems science can provide guidance in capturing the complementary approaches to healthcare, says Jan van der Greef.

Outlook | | Nature

Many ingredients in traditional herbal medicines cannot be absorbed by the human gut. Could our microbial inhabitants do for us what we can't do ourselves?

Outlook | | Nature

The repertoire of traditional Chinese medicine could offer rich pickings for modern drug developers, but researchers must first define and test herbal concoctions.

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The editor of Nature China reports on his first visit to a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to find out how this ancient practice is dispensed in the twenty-first century — and to see if anything can be done to relieve his back pain.

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The practice of traditional medicine in Japan includes many modern techniques but faces numerous challenges — including political pressure from China.

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Traditional plant-based remedies are not risk-free. Doctors and patients need to be informed about the possible side effects, says Masatomo Sakurai.

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To investigate traditional Asian medicines properly, we need to rethink the way they are tested, say Liang Liu, Elaine Lai-Han Leung and Xiaoying Tian.

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With an ingredients list that includes rhino horn and tiger bone, traditional Asian medicine is on a collision course with wildlife preservation.

Outlook | | Nature

Collection

Thalidomide, a drug reviled in the 1960s for its teratogenic effects, has been revived in recent years for cancer and leprosy therapy. A study now finds another use for this drug in vascular disease, providing further insights into the drug's mechanisms of action ( pages 420–428 ).

News & Views | | Nature Medicine