Herbal Product Manufacturer - Custom Formulations and Herbal Extracts
Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine

The major stumbling block in the true modernization of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the difficulty in obtaining herbal materials that are consistently reproducible and representative of the traditional herbs in their totality.  This totality includes identity (often more than 1 plant species, plant part, processed form, etc.), sources (a few to many – from indigenous to non-indigenous), chemical composition (many to countless, including active and inactive), and commercial status (age, degree and stage of handling/processing since harvest), etc.  Despite continuing worldwide scientific endeavors to standardize traditional Chinese medicine, the approach has been invariably bent towards a reductionistic pharmaceutical model – precise botanical (e.g., a voucher specimen) or chemical identification (e.g., an arbitrarily selected marker chemical, since it’s impossible to identify all the compounds present).  The result is this approach has so far not produced a workable system for acquiring botanical reference/research materials that are suitable for exploring the true value of TCM other than using them as a material sources for modern drug development.  Hence, an acute need exists for Botanical Reference Materials (BRMs) that are not only botanically authenticated but also representative of the herbal materials as they have been traditionally known, used and documented.

Dedicated to the true modernization of TCM not its westernization or inappropriate commercialization, we at Phyto-Technologies, Inc. have been continuously looking for innovative ways to contribute to the true modernization, utilizing state-of-the-art modern technologies without losing sight of the age-old TCM tradition.  Instead of zeroing in on 1 or 2 specifics, we keep our eyes open to the whole spectrum of potentially relevant issues.  Since TCM, like modern medicine, is more an art than an exact science and should be treated accordingly, we have taken the holistic approach in the development and production of Representative Botanical Reference/Research Materials (RBRMs™) which is a natural extension of TCM’s holistic nature.  Using advanced scientific techniques simultaneously with traditional wisdom, we have developed a technology that will allow us to address most of the issues accompanying Chinese medicine which have so far prevented them from being scientifically explored appropriately and meaningfully.  The first products emerging from the application of this new technology are RBRMs that are representative of the herbs as they have been known, used and documented since ancient times.

This RBRM technology utilizes advanced and appropriate analytical techniques (FTIR, HPTLC, UV/VIS, GC, HPLC, photo-microscopy, etc.) to profile the traditional Chinese herbs after they have been correctly identified via traditional methods.  Only herb materials sourced from indigenous and traditional regions are used in our RBRMs.  However, materials from non-indigenous and/or non-traditional regions may also be included when their physicochemical profiles match those of the indigenous and traditional materials.

Why RBRM™?  In the research and development of traditional herbal medicines, using modern science alone is not enough.  The science used must also be in tune with the very tradition followed in creating the herbal formulas/medicines in the first place.  Traditionally, Chinese herbal medicines/foods come from very diverse sources, with major indigenous/traditional regions supplying the mainstream materials on which documentation of their properties, uses and efficacy is largely based.  Hence, depending on whether a source has been established for centuries or only for decades, certain herbal materials from certain regions have become more representative of a particular medicine or food than others as they have been continually documented.  In other words, a Chinese herb grown in the United States is most likely not going to have all the same properties as the same herb grown in its indigenous/traditional regions in China.

The identities of Chinese herbs have been established for centuries primarily by organoleptic examination and process standardization along with human experimentation/experience, not by the modern science of botany. The latter has only been recently used to assign or confirm their botanical identities that only constitute one of numerous parameters defining what Chinese medicines are.  Therefore, the modern practice of relying on the voucher specimen as the ultimate criterion of an herbal material’s identity lacks relevance in Chinese herbal medicine research and in the production of Chinese herbal products.  Only RBRMs, with or without voucher specimens, can serve as truly meaningful and relevant botanical reference/research materials.

RBRMs™ vs. voucher specimens.  Traditional Chinese medicines and foods have been developed over millennia by precisely documenting herb identities, growing regions, harvesting methods, processing and preparation methods, traditional properties, toxicities, indications and efficacy, etc.  This diverse totality that makes up traditional Chinese medicine cannot be captured by a single standard voucher specimen, but it can be very closely represented by an RBRM™.  Thus, for research on the traditional properties and other well-documented aspects of complex traditional Chinese medicines, RBRMs are a prerequisite to obtaining reproducible and consistent results.  While other reference materials based on voucher specimens from particular growing plots may be adequate for research on a known chemical or a targeted bioactivity, they aren’t necessarily relevant in research on complex traditional Chinese medicines/foods because they are not representative of the diversity inherent in Chinese herbs and foods.
 

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