Journeying to the West

By Zhang Yihua Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/21 18:58:39

How traditional Chinese medicine goes global


Wu Yiling, the founder of Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd. Photo: Courtesy of Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd



The third Chinese Health Festival was held from June 16 to 18 at the Yiling Health Center, a subsidiary corporation of Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (Yiling) in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province.

With the theme of developing the health industry and building a healthy China, the festival showcased the traditional health-preserving culture and attracted tens of thousands of people.

Wu Yiling, the founder of Yiling, vice chairman of the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and vice president of the China Society of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, attended the festival.

See Chee Kong, the minister counselor at the Malaysian Embassy in China; Hoda JadAlla, the press counselor at the Egyptian Embassy in China; Cherett Campbell, the minister counselor at the Jamaican Embassy in China; and Kalamkas Duzbayeva, the first secretary of the Kazakhstani Embassy in China also took part in the event.

Yiling is a high and new technology enterprise. With taking traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) research and development to industrialization as its core principle, it integrates scientific research, clinical practices and production with marketing and teaching. To date, Yiling products have been exported to many countries and regions, including South Korea, Vietnam, England, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore and Russia.

Through Yiling , TCM is on its way to going global, but there is still much work to do.

Cherett Campbell (2nd left); the minister counselor at the Jamaican Embassy; Hoda JadAlla (3rd left), the press counselor at the Egyptian Embassy; and Kalamkas Duzbayeva (right), the first secretary of the Kazakhstani Embassy visit the Yiling Health Center on June 16. Photo: Courtesy of Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd



The road to globalization

There is a long history of health regimens in China, according to Wu.

"Inheriting the traditional health theories, innovating through practices and developing the health industry with Chinese characteristics are important subjects in today's society," he said.

According to him, the development of the health industry combines the traditional with the modern. The traditional includes not only TCM but also the idea of regimens from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

"The traditional ideas are attractive for many foreigners," he said. "What seems very national can also be international."

Taking the Yiling Health Center as an example, Wu said the center has received clients from Europe, some of whom were suffering from tumors that were not responding to the local treatment. He said after receiving a treatment that combined TCM with dietary regimens and exercise, they went into remission and that their success stories have attracted others to come to China for similar treatments.

"Gradually, foreign participants in medical tourism in China will be in fashion," Wu said.

He predicts that medical tourism as an industry will become a new kind of tourism in China in the future.

Wu also believes that there is a great opportunity for TCM to go global. With holism in life sciences becoming the background in the 21st century, the holistic and traditional way of thinking embedded in TCM has attracted the attention of many Chinese and foreign experts of system science, he said.

He added that TCM products can be patented in the US and many countries in Europe. For example, Lianhua Qingwen capsules, a medication that is used to relieve high fever, produced a great clinical effect in the US.

He noted that Nature journal once published an overview that recorded and spoke highly of the clinical effect of many Chinese patented medicines in 2015, which was the first time a distinguished journal paid attention to TCM clinical research.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology also recently published an overview of TCM clinical research in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, recognizing Tongxinluo capsules for cardio-cerebrovascular diseases and Qiliqiangxin capsules for heart failure.

"For TCM to go global, on the one hand, we need to grasp the chance; on the other hand, we need to employ more research methods that are in accordance with the international standard to help the research be recognized by more international journals and organizations," said Wu.

He said Yiling held the Chinese Health Festival to raise public awareness of health. Wu also said that as the problem of food and clothing settles, the pursuit of health and wellness is becoming a need for many, but not much knowledge concerning health has been shared in the public, and few organizations have contributed to building public awareness.

"Many people want to stay healthy, but they do not know how. Therefore, we propose that one's health and body need to be managed, and we wish to spread knowledge about health, provide health services, and promote the development of China's health industry through the festival," he said.

Foreign views

On the morning of June 16, the diplomats went to the exhibition area of the Yiling Health Center where some TCM services, such as massages, health products and advanced equipment for growing vegetables at home were exhibited.

Yiling's staff members showed the diplomats Zhonghua Tongluocao, aerobic exercises created by Yiling based on TCM ideas that are helpful in dredging energy channels and improving microcirculation in the body.

The diplomats were amazed when they saw the exhibited TCM ingredients, including cicadas, woodlice, gypsum and so on, many of which they never heard of or did not know could be used a kind of medicine.

Hebei Yiling Hospital staff and diplomats during the hospital visit on June 16 Photo: Courtesy of Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd



In the afternoon, they visited Hebei Yiling Hospital, which was founded by Wu in 1992. The hospital specializes in the prevention and treatment research of motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis neurology complicated diseases. It has treated hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from muscle atrophy over the years, producing a significant clinical curative effect and social benefits.

The hospital has received patients from over 30 countries and regions, including the US, Japan, Canada, Australia, Russia, Egypt and Argentina.

The patients give high praise to the hospital for its excellent service and diagnosis and its treatment advantage in the combination of TCM and Western medicine.

The diplomats were encouraged to try TCM services, including acupuncture, massages and cupping therapy.

A breast cancer patient from Sweden tries TCM treatment at the Yiling Health Center in March. Photo: Courtesy of Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd



Opportunities for cooperation

See said the Chinese Health Festival was a very useful platform to showcase China's advancement in the TCM industry. Malaysia, as a multiracial country, also promotes traditional and complementary medicine that includes traditional Chinese and Malay medicine as well as traditional Indian medicinal practices.

He noted that in Malaysia, traditional and complementary medicine is an important component of the healthcare system. It coexists with modern medicine and helps improve people's health and quality of life.

The Malaysian government has introduced and enforced the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Law in 2016 to regulate this industry. Currently, 15 public hospitals in Malaysia provide traditional and complementary medicine services, including acupuncture, traditional Malay massage, herbal therapy and postnatal treatment. Also, six universities in Malaysia provide courses in traditional and complementary medicine, he said.

"Malaysia has signed a government-to-government memorandum of understanding on cooperation in traditional and complementary medicine with five countries: China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei," he said.

According to him, Malaysia is rich in tropical herbs, and the country would like to invite interested Chinese companies to explore business and investment opportunities and further expand the usage and application of tropical herbs available in Malaysia. Interested Chinese companies are welcomed to make Malaysia the manufacturing hub of the ingredients for TCM to serve China's domestic TCM industry.

"To encourage investment in traditional and complementary medicine, Malaysia offers attractive tax incentives," he said. "In light of the One Belt and One Road initiative and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and given the excellent bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, TCM and other related industries in Malaysia and China can jointly explore business collaboration in the export of TCM services along these routes."

Campbell believes that the possibility for cooperation between China and Jamaica is rich, for example, in the field of medical tourism.

To her understanding, there are so many side effects when resorting to the treatment of Western medicine, but TCM, on the other hand, is mild and healthier because it is natural and holistic.

JadAlla said the Chinese Health Festival is a good opportunity to promote TCM and that she hoped the promotion can reach the Middle East where not many people know about TCM and its good effects.

She considers TCM a time-honored medical practice that focuses on boosting the body's inner power, stimulating immunity to fight diseases, especially in the early stages, and unblocking the energy pathways so that energy can flow smoothly and restore health and balance. She also believes that there are many similarities between TCM and the ancient traditional Egyptian medicine.

She said that traditional Egyptian medicine used many substances like therapeutic herbs, honey and milk to cure diseases. Massages and surgeries were also documented on papyrus and temple murals.

"The number of health centers that use TCM is increasing in Egypt," she said. People try TCM side by side with Western treatment in many cases as a catalyst or complementary medication. TCM can also be used alone in some cases like pain and obesity treatment.

She thinks that there are great opportunities for China and Egypt to cooperate in developing TCM. "The two countries can exchange knowledge in this field and create training programs for doctors and practitioners," she said.

According to her, the two countries can also cooperate in medical tourism. She explained that there are many places that are famous for medical tourism in Egypt, such as Helwan, Ain El Sira, Al Ain Sokhna, Hurghada and Fayoum.

"Chinese tourists are welcome, and we encourage Chinese investors to establish TCM centers in Egypt for both Egyptians and tourists," she said.

Wu Yiling (left) and Professor Colin Riordan, the president of Cardiff University Photo: Courtesy of Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd





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