On this blog, I have discussed the lamentable quality of TCM products before (e. g. here, here and here). In a nutshell, far too high percentages of them are contaminated with toxic substances or adulterated with prescription drugs. It is no question: these deficits put many consumers at risk. Equally, there is no question that the problem has been known for decades.
For the Chinese exporters, such issues are a great embarrassment, not least because TCM-products are amongst the most profitable of all the Chinese exports. In the past, Chinese officials have tried to ignore or suppress the subject as much as possible. I presume they fear that their profits might be endangered by being open about the dubious quality of their TCM-exports.
Recently, however, I came across a website where unusually frank and honest statements of Chinese officials appeared about TCM-products. Here is the quote:
China is to unroll the fourth national survey of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) resources to ensure a better development of the industry, said a senior health official…
With the public need for TCM therapies growing, the number of medicine resources has decreased and people have turned to the cultivated ones. However, due to a lack of standards, the cultivated TCM resources are sometimes less effective or even unsafe for human use, said Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of TCM, at a TCM seminar held in Kunming, Yunnan Province in southwest China.
There is a pressing need to protect TCM resources, Wang said. “I’ve heard people saying that medicine quality will spell doom for the TCM industry, which I must admit, is no exaggeration,” he said.
The survey has been piloted in 922 counties in 31 provinces in China since 2011. According to its official website, it will draw a clear picture of the variety, distribution, storage and growth trends of TCM resources, including herbs, animals, minerals and synthetic materials.
TCM includes a range of traditional medical practices originating in China. It includes such treatments as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tuina), exercise (qigong) and dietary therapy.
Although well accepted in the mainstream of medical care throughout East Asia, TCM is considered an alternative medical system in much of the western world and has been a source of controversy. A milestone in the recognition of TCM came when Chinese pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou won a Nobel Prize in 2015 for her discovery of Artemisinin, a medicinal herb, to help treat malaria.
END OF QUOTE
Surely, these are remarkable, perhaps even unprecedented statements by Chinese officials:
…cultivated TCM resources are sometimes less effective or even unsafe for human use…
…medicine quality will spell doom for the TCM industry…
Let’s hope that, after such words, there will be appropriate actions… finally.