Listed in Issue 231


SHORTER and SEGESSER, (1)History of Medicine Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto review the literature for the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and pharmacologic drugs for psychiatric conditions.


This paper demonstrates that in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, there are striking similarities between the mechanisms of psychoactive agents used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and those of western psychopharmacology.


While western researchers search for new treatments and novel mechanisms of action, investigators in Asia are analyzing traditional remedies in order to understand the mechanisms responsible for their effectiveness.


A review of contemporary pharmacologic studies of agents used in TCM for psychiatric indications reveals that virtually all of the active principles of drug action established in 20th century psychopharmacology were encountered empirically in Chinese herbal medicine over the past 2000 years. Building bridges between these two traditions may thus be of benefit to both cultures.


In addition to providing western patients with a wider selection of treatment options, the effort may help Asian clinicians and researchers avoid some of the errors that have troubled their western counterparts.


Shorter E(1) and Segesser K. Traditional Chinese medicine and Western psychopharmacology: building bridges.  Phytother Res. 27(12):1739-44. Dec 2013. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4940. Epub Feb 17 2013.

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