As Chinese medicine migrates to the West what standards are real, helpful, or appropriate?

Panel organisers:

Name Email
Erich Stoeger
Nina Zhao-Seiler N.N.


This panel deals with some of the many levels and aspects in which the issue of “standardization” has come into play as part of the process of Chinese medicine’s migration to the West [here referring primarily to Europe, North America, and Australia.

There is a huge cultural and social gap to be traversed so that this medicine can be of benefit to the populations of these countries. Over and over again in these lectures we will confront the issue of standardization — by whom, for whom, and for what purposes. We will approach this issue from a variety of perspectives and expertise, relying in this particular workshop on people who have grown up in the modern West.

The normal way in which standardization is accomplished in the modern world is detrimental to a proper understanding and utilization of Chinese medicine. Medical terms cannot be usefully translated by simply having commissions draft dictionaries, and medicinal materials found in historical texts will not be properly utilized unless any attempt to standardize them honors their traditional backgrounds and use. The variance of the pharmaceutical laws and understandings of the correct manner of medicinal monographs between the different countries of the West and the traditional approaches has to be addressed with finesse and care. Also the lack of a sense of context in the West, which insists on understanding the effect of medicinal materials in terms of single substances or even more extremely single chemicals, clashes with the way that East Asian societies always use frames of reference and must be taken into account.

These perspectives will include translation, practice, pharmacology, and regulation, together with economic and cultural considerations. The presenters will demonstrate how issues of standardization and regulation make it clear how Chinese medicine not only challenges preconceived ideas in the West, but also that some of the obstacles to the general acceptance of Chinese medicine as a way of helping people are put there as a means of limiting competition in the medical marketplace.

Impressions of ICTAM IX

  • Impressions of ICTAM IX, 2017, by Matthias Burmeister, ICTAM IX Filmteam

Trailer ICTAM IX, 2017