East Meets West In Alternative Medicine

Posted on Jun 10, 2012

East Meets West In Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine Versus the FDA

It’s been a long time coming but there is progress being made in the meeting of the minds when it comes to the alternative medicine practices of traditional Chinese medicine and the FDA regarding testing on oral botanical drugs for major medical indications.  More than 15 years ago Mary Tagliaferri, MD, L.Ac. and Isaac Cohen, OMD, L.Ac. co-founded the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program at the University of California.  San Francisco’s Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center was opened as the first traditional Chinese medicine clinic at UCSF.  The plan was straight forward: employ state of the art technology to rigorously identify and test the active ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine herbs and botanicals.

The results were better than expected in treating breast cancer and menopausal hot flashes creating an alteration to the original plan.

Alternative Medicine Shrinks Tumors

A long used formula in traditional Chinese medicine showed evidence of shrinking tumors and extending life spans without the life threatening toxicity which is inherent to available conventional treatments for advanced breast cancer.

Cohen and Tagliaferri’s menopausal hot flash compound is derived from 22 TCM herbs and botanicals, proved to be clinically effective in early trials in the lab, and had no serious side effects.

The success of their early studies led Cohen and Tagliaferri to form a company dedicated to the development of TCM derived compounds which would become FDA approved drugs for unmet needs in women’s health and cancer.

Alternative Medicine Versus Conventional Medicines:  Strengths and Weaknesses

There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides of this cause.  TCM’s strengths include a 4,000 year history of documented results with safety and efficacy.  Conventional medicine’s strengths include a rigid, formulaic approach to drug development which results in large masses of statistical data noting drug tolerances and safety.

While TCM has not undergone the rigorous scrutiny common with FDA approved products and has some unknown mechanisms of action, Western medicine’s sledgehammer approach to healing can come with deadly side effects when addressing menopausal hot flashes and breast cancer.

While it’s very clear that there is still work to be done with the east meeting the west, there is a great potential for the development of safe and effective remedies where the current marketplace has a large void.  Traditional Chinese medicine will not only gain recognition but respect and acknowledgement while women will gain more hope in the safe treatment of cancer and menopausal issues.


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