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Traditional and Herbal Medicines, Regulation: East Asia

Conventional views about herbal medicine, as compared with biomedicine, include the following notions: that herbs are more natural than synthetic biomedical pharmaceuticals; that, as an essential part of therapeutic tradition, herbs have a long history of use and thus are safe; that herbal medicine leads to fewer adverse effects and has a gentle therapeutic power; and that herbal medicine has been used for huge populations. So, from a public health perspective, it should be less expensive than biomedicine, which has become burdensome in developed countries.

These views, although not without merit, fall short in their understanding of the transformation of herbal medicine in response to biomedicine, which has existed in East Asia for over 400 years now and has become a permanent component of health services. ...

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