Developing Traditional Chinese Medicines as Botanical Drugs for the US Market

| 01 August 2009

Therapeutic products derived from medicinal plants have been used throughout the history of mankind. The use of herbs for treating a variety of ailments has been described in the oldest of human civilizations. Several modern drugs owe their origin to plants.1 Some prominent examples are Tamiflu (based on the Chinese spice star anise), Atropine (plants of the Solanaceae family), Digoxin (Foxglove plant Digitalis Lanata) and Taxol (Pacific yew tree, Taxus brevifolia). While whole herbs have been used in various forms for medicinal purposes, extracts or partially purified components, called botanical drugs, have more commonly been used in herbal treatments. Botanical drugs differ from conventional drugs in that they comprise mixtures of multiple components whose therapeutic effects are not clearly defined. In many cultures, mainstream traditional therapies heavily rely upon treatment with botanical products. In the US, most botanicals are sold as dietary supplements.


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