Chinese Herbal Medicine – Yesterday’s Wisdom, Today’s Applications

The clinical use of herbal medicine in China dates back thousands of years. With unsurpassed and documented clinical applications in the history of medicine, the wealth of knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine is now being modernised to meet today’s healthcare needs. According to the recent WHO study, 60% of deaths worldwide are now caused by chronic illness. Chinese herbal formulations are effective regulative medicine for chronic diseases resulting from metabolic syndromes, modern stressful lifestyle and increasing psychosomatic disorders. Research studies are now being conducted by respected institutions globally to modernise Chinese herbal medicine and re-establish its validity in the treatment of many diseases, including Western drug-based medicines that fail to cure or cause unacceptable side effects.

Chinese herbs were systematically classified by Li Shi Zhen (李时珍) in Ming dynasty (AD 1518). The publication of his comprehensive work “Ben Cao Gang Mu” (本草纲目) was a milestone in the history of medicine, summarising Chinese herbal materia medica since Shen Nong (神农) discovered herbs three thousand years before Li Shi Zhen.

Chinese herbal medicine is a major component of Chinese medicine used by every Chinese physician for their patients. In the West, acupuncturists who do not have any knowledge of Chinese herbal prescriptions and syndrome differentiation can only treat their patients symptomatically without the effective tool for dealing with deep rooted illnesses holistically. This diploma course is unique in developing the practitioner in this direction, in helping them to comprehend Chinese herbal medicine in clinical practice and build their experience in prescription formulation.

The course is also unique in combining the Chinese traditional methodology in teaching herbal medicine with the clinical requirements of the modern practitioners.

Identification of herbs (pharmacognosis) is also a feature of this course with an optional field trip studies in China at the famous Li Shi Zhen Botanical Garden which boasts having the complete range of herbs classified in the “Ben Cao Gang Mu” cultivated over the past sixty years.

With the increasing impact of Chinese medicine in future integrative approach to medicine, the study of Chinese herbs is essential for the modern physician. This diploma course is a timely development for all CMIR members as well as other qualified practitioners who wish to enrich their knowledge in the holistic syndrome treatment of their patients.

Professor Man Fong Mei

Chair, CMIR 2012