Database rates Chinese medicine

Local | Riley Chan 14 Dec 2017

Chinese University of Hong Kong researchers have developed Asia's first global online database on the effectiveness of Chinese medicine.

The bilingual evidence-based platform, "Integrative Medicine Clinical Evidence Portal," comprises more than 200 experiments on how effective Chinese medicine is in different situations.

CUHK Chinese medicine practitioner and assistant professor Vincent Chung Chi-ho said many research papers on Chinese medicine and complementary treatment are rather complicated to digest, even for health-care professionals.

So the university's Faculty of Medicine team simplified the study basics and findings of hundreds of experiments into language that is easily understood by the public. The team also ranked the credibility of each study to allow the public to choose the most suitable treatment.

Chung said one common question was whether the combination of oseltamivir - also named Tamiflu - and Chinese herbal formula maxingshigan-yinqiaosan is effective in treating H1N1 influenza. The database analyzed a study that looked into the case, concluding the combination significantly reduced the median time to fever resolution by 19 percent.

"A lot of Chinese medicine treatments are still controversial," Chung said. "With the portal, the public can check the effectiveness and credibility of some treatments they are receiving, or planning to choose."

CUHK also introduced the first Chinese medicine online course in English with the massive open online course provider Coursera.

Launched in September, the course has already attracted 1,700 people from around the globe, many from the United States.

Associate dean Justin Wu Che-yuen said the idea of running the online course in English came up two years ago. "We wanted to provide basic Chinese medicine knowledge to English speaking people around the world, especially those who do not have time to take a full-time course at the school," Wu said.

There are five one-hour sessions in total with one session a week. The course is in video format, combining animation and graphics. The first phase teaches basic theories of Chinese medicine such as Yin-Yang, Zang-Fu, seven emotions and six exogenous factors, and Chinese medicine diagnostic methods.

The second phase is on herbs, acupuncture and self-therapy. Preparation work is expected to start next year, and the free course will be available in 2019.

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