Research: BORCHERS and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 36


BORCHERS and colleagues, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California at Davis 95616 USA write that demand for and scientific interest in many aspects of complementary medicine, particularly medicinal botanicals has increased considerably in recent years. Chinese herbal medicines and their Japanese counterparts Kampo are those with the longest tradition and for which the most extensive data are available.



The authors review (54 references) representative examples of studies researching the effects of certain traditional Chinese medicines upon various aspects of the immune response. The author cites in vitro and in vivo studies, the latter including animal and human clinical trial data.


The review demonstrates that considerable research has focused upon the specific benefits of Chinese herbal medicines; however, many fewer studies exist which study the mechanisms whereby they exert their immunomodulatory actions. The limited number of mechanistic data presented in the review demonstrate that a number of mechanisms are likely to be involved in the various actions of even a single medicine.


The elucidation of these mechanisms will ultimately provide the scientific basis to establish the safety and efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines and ultimately all forms of medicinal botanicals.


Borchers AT et al. Complementary medicine: a review of immunomodulatory effects of Chinese herbal medicines. Am J Clin Nutr 66(6): 1303-12. Dec 1997.

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