Major achievements of evidence-based traditional Chinese medicine in treating major diseases

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Graphical abstractA long history of use and extensive documentation of the clinical practices of traditional Chinese medicine resulted in a considerable number of classical preparations, which are still widely used. This heritage of our ancestors provides a unique resource for drug discovery. Already, a number of important drugs have been developed from traditional medicines, which in fact form the core of Western pharmacotherapy. Therefore, this article discusses the differences in drug development between traditional medicine and Western medicine. Moreover, the article uses the discovery of artemisinin as an example that illustrates the “bedside–bench–bedside” approach to drug discovery to explain that the middle way for drug development is to take advantage of the best features of these two distinct systems and compensate for certain weaknesses in each. This article also summarizes evidence-based traditional medicines and discusses quality control and quality assessment, the crucial steps in botanical drug development. Herbgenomics may provide effective tools to clarify the molecular mechanism of traditional medicines in the botanical drug development. The totality-of-the-evidence approach used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for botanical products provides the directions on how to perform quality control from the field throughout the entire production process.

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