When a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescription doesn't prove effective, sometimes it's not the doctors, but the quality of its different components that should take the blame.
Ruan Hongxian, President of Yixintang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in Kunming, Yunnan Province, told Beijing Review that ingredient quality mainly derives from two aspects--plantation and processing.
"Some ingredients or herbs can grow only in specific areas to achieve their optimal functioning," Ruan, a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, said. "It is not right to promote the plantation of these TCM components in other areas featuring different climates and geographical features."
Some areas in China are known as top-notch production places for specific TCM ingredients. For example, Wenxian County in Henan Province is renowned for its Chinese yams, claimed to restore the body's vital energy--or qi. Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is known to produce the best goji berries, thought to be one of the best ingredients for promoting liver and kidney health.
The processing methods of TCM ingredients are manifold. They include roasting, stir-frying--with or without liquid excipients, calcining, and steaming; all aim to reduce toxicity and reinforce efficacy. "The processing methods have been developed and honed by TCM practitioners over thousands of years," he said. "Some processing methods require extraordinary skill and the number of people with these skillsets is decreasing. We need to find ways to encourage more young people to get involved."
TCM has played an important role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with several recipes shown to be effective for treating patients. It has helped Chinese people survive quite a few major epidemics throughout history. "It's time to establish a national standard to regulate the plantation and processing of the ingredients so that they can function optimally," Ruan said.
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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