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Leung 9

to be treated. Over even the course of a single visit, a traditional medicine practitioner will likely

develop a better understanding of my life and ways of thinking than a Western physician would

over years of treating only the flu or a sprain. Alternative medicine needs to be evaluated on its

own standards and guidelines, the ones from which it originally developed and expanded.

I believe that alternative medicines, where possible, should be integrated into modern

Western medical science. Governments and universities should increase funds for research into

the chemical values of traditional remedies. They must also realize that the traditional treatments

require a combination and amounts of different herbs into an individualized treatment: one single

combination is unlikely to be nearly as effective. For example, a recent drug trial is testing an

extract of fifteen Chinese herbs as a treatment for hepatitis B, after researchers worked for ten

years to find a standard formulation (Normille, 190). A different set of criterion may have to be

developed for evaluating traditional medicine, as this one single combination may not work to

the maximum benefit of all patients. Epinephrine and artemisin (for malaria) are two of the other

drugs developed from Chinese herbal medicine that are used in the U.S. More drug discoveries

are held back by a variety of reasons: herbal medicines are not innovative and thus cannot be

patented easily, which makes pharmaceutical companies less likely to invest in research; spotty

regulation lead to safety concerns; and skepticism by Western doctors over any possible

discoveries decrease usage of CTM (Normille, 189). Professor emeritis of clinical medicine

Wallace Sampson at Stanford University believes that medicinal plants promoted by traditional

Chinese medicinal texts (which many practitioners use and learn the concepts of) are unlikely to

lead to contributions to medical science and that claims of their efficacy are “unreliable, fanciful,

false, [and] irrelevant” (Normille, 189).

Leung 9

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