Planta Med 2011; 77(9): 873-881
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1270983
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

The Role of Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Chronic Diseases in China

Miao Jiang1 , Chi Zhang1 , Hongxin Cao1 , Kelvin Chan2 , Aiping Lu1
  • 1Institute of Basic Research in Clinical Medicine, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2The University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Further Information

Publication History

received Nov. 11, 2010 revised March 16, 2011

accepted March 19, 2011

Publication Date:
06 April 2011 (eFirst)


Chinese medicine (CM) has a long history of experience and proven successful treatment for chronic diseases and has also played an important role in the provision of health care in China. Patients with chronic diseases are happy to accept CM and physicians are willing to use CM to relieve patients suffering from chronic illnesses. The Chinese health authorities encourage CM development to meet the requirements for the treatment of chronic diseases. CM products are an essential part of medications that have a predominant role in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in China. A large number of CM clinical studies, including a substantial number of available randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews, have shown that CM is effective and safe in the treatment of chronic diseases. Although the efficacies of some evaluated CM therapies remain uncertain, it is worth assessing them by using CM pattern (Zheng or syndrome) differentiation to verify treatment outcomes. CM is considered to have a better safety profile compared to pharmaceutical chemicals, but inappropriate applications of CM also makes the safety issues a hot discussed subject. As a medical system, CM should be able to provide worldwide contribution for the patients who are suffering from chronic diseases. The application of CM pattern classification in diagnosis with corresponding prescribed treatment using herbal formulae in the relief of chronic diseases can be linked with modern biomedical parameters (biomarkers) as treatment outcomes. These outcome parameters, together with the patients' reported quality of life assessment, can provide innovative approaches for evidence-based estimation of the efficacy of CM treatment in chronic diseases.


Prof. Kelvin Chan

HMREC Faculty of Pharmacy
The University of Sydney and CompleMED College of Health & Science
University of Western Sydney

Locked Bag 1797

Penrith NSW 2751


Phone: +61 2 91 14 14 85

Fax: +61 2 46 20 32 91


Prof. Aiping Lu

China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences

Nnaxiaojie 16#, Dongzhimennei

Beijing 100700


Phone: +86 10 64 06 76 11

Fax: +86 10 84 03 28 81