Mother Nature's Medicine Cabinet - Scientific American
Today many other compounds taken from Nature's medicine cabinet are at odds with traditional healers in many parts of the world, who have. Comparison Between Traditional and Modern Medicine In relation to medicine, conventional medicine employs herbalism or even the utilization of crops or. You've been shuttled around from doctor to doctor, handed prescription after prescription after prescription. Your medicine cabinet is filled with.
Huge demand for pharmacists led to the dramatic multiplication of retail pharmacies by the mids. Recently, each pharmacological college has over-recruited students and produced far more pharmacists than this nation needs, and it is feared that pharmacists face a very uncertain future. In our country at present, basic chemical, pharmaceutical, food, hygiene industries, and the like, are not fully developed and thus they cannot create jobs for pharmacists.
Therefore, graduates of pharmacological colleges tend to open their own businesses year after year, precipitating the rampant growth of retail pharmacies. This has inevitably created disorder in the drug business.
Comparison Between Traditional and Modern Medicine | Death By Modern Medicine
We [pharmacists] request that the government should intervene in the situation and return the supply and demand of pharmacists to appropriate levels that the nation can accommodate, strengthen the standards for opening schools, and control class size. Quoted in KPA To make up for lost business, some pharmacists began to dispense herbal medicines, installing the traditional herbal medicine cabinet in their shops.
At that time, the market for herbal drugs was wide open. As a pharmacist who had endured the changing ecological environment of the pharmaceutical market for decades put it: In the mids large-scale local pharmacies like Bo Ryung dumped pharmaceuticals at very low prices and began to dominate the market, so that relatively small-scale independent local pharmacies, including mine, began to falter and to be marginalized in the marketplace.
In search of a less competitive market, pharmacists turned to herbal medicines. Unlike his sales of Western medicines herbal medicines, when the pharmacist sold herbal medicines he did not need to compete against other pharmacists: Kim, interview with a Western-style pharmacist on June 24, in Seoul, Korea As many more pharmacists entered the herbal medicine market, pharmaceutical companies that had seen their sales slump turned to making herbal extracts.
They even offered free night classes on herbal medicine from the mids through the early s. Soon the National Assembly stepped in to address the situation. Chinese medicine and drugs are used in tandem with diagnosis and treatment based on the patient's eum, yang, heo, sil, han, yeol, and jeung. Without having studied [the appropriate] prescription methods and actions of herbal drugs such as guigyeong, suchi, and bangje for an extended period of time, it is impossible to prescribe and dispense herbal drugs.
They advocated a 6-year course of undergraduate study as a prerequisite for dispensing herbal medicines. An exception could be made for herbalists with at least 5 years of hands-on experience in a traditional clinic or herbal shops: Practitioners attempted to amend the pharmacy law by adding a clause that prohibited pharmacists from prescribing, compounding, or dispensing herbal medicines Park By defining a firm line between herbalists and pharmacists and between herbal medicines and Western medicinesthey believed that Oriental and Western medicine could both be given the chance to develop on their own.
In response, the Korean Pharmaceutical Association argued that the profession of pharmacy should be independent from the profession of medicine, as the prescription and dispensation of drugs required specialized knowledge independent of the practice of diagnosis and treatment.
The group contended that Oriental physicians had been allowed to prescribe drugs only because of particular historical and social contingencies, referring to the contemporary pharmacy law to strengthen its position: Furthermore, they appealed to legal authority, pointing out that the comprehensive rights of pharmacists to issue prescriptions were set out in the pharmacy law of The upshot of this debate was a resolution passed by the National Assembly in that outlined guidelines for pharmacists' prescriptions.
To make the boundary between Western and Oriental medicine quite visible, legislators identified Oriental practitioners' practice of preparing herbal remedies squarely with practices of traditional diagnostics and therapeutics.
This meant that a pharmacist who issued herbal remedies was guilty of malpractice even if he or she relied on the standard Traditional Diagnostics and Therapeutics Han bang ryo beop. The Korean Pharmaceutical Association was asked to tighten up the ethical practices of its members. Epistemic Buffer Once the Korean Pharmaceutical Association had been armed with a set of state-approved ethical guidelines, the medicine cabinet became a contested site.
The presence of the traditional medicine cabinet in Western-style clinics and pharmacies implied that herbal remedies were concocted there. To avoid this impression, the association soon began to look for something that could replace the antiquated chest of drawers. A representative spoke of the new cabinets as if they alone would transform traditional medicines into modern pharmaceuticals: With the drawers labeled with the Latin names of the herbs, the new model Fig.
The upper drawers were intended to accommodate herbal medicines, whereas the lower section would contain Western pharmaceuticals. Although some members adopted it in the early s, the new cabinet failed to catch on. Pharmacists held onto their old cabinets, giving them a conspicuous location in their shops to reassure customers. Moreover, they continued to dispense traditional medicines in addition to modern forms of the herbal drugs being marketed by the pharmaceutical companies.
Repeated petitions from the Oriental medicine lobby and counter-petitions from pharmacists prompted the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to introduce a legal amendment concerning the traditional herbal medicine cabinet along with a restrictive measure to control pharmacists' prescriptions. In Marchthe ministry passed the amendment as a compromise measure to ease the heightened tension between Western pharmacists and traditional practitioners: But within a month, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs sent a communication to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and local governments, advising them not to enforce the law.
It had become clear that the ministry lacked the funds needed to implement the new law. After the government came to the conclusion that the presence of the medicine cabinet at a pharmacy would not and could not be controlled, the Association of Korean Oriental medicine sent an official letter petitioning the ministry to immediately initiate inspections and sanction offenders. Moreover, the Oriental medicine lobby then mobilized supporters at numerous localities across the nation to protest the government's apparent slight.
Responding to the pressure, the ministry's director of pharmaceutical affairs held a press conference and explained: The clause was added to signify that it is, in principle, within the purview of herbal dealers and practitioners of Oriental medicine to dispense and administer cheop yak herbal tonics by cutting the herbs with a fodder chopper.
Accordingly, pharmacists should be forbidden to dispense herbal medicines. The presence of a traditional type of medicine cabinet in a pharmacy might lead some to conclude that the pharmacy is a place where herbal medicines are dispensed. Although it is true that the relevant law was proclaimed in order to avoid such misunderstandings, enforcement has been continually postponed because of the expense.
Ji, UiSam internal correspondence ; July 22, As evidenced by a press interview with the official who had been in charge, the law about the medicine cabinet had been proposed to ease tensions between the Western-style pharmacists and the herbalists. Members of the Korean Pharmaceutical Association interpreted the clause differently from members of the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine.
They interpreted the dispensing of herbal medicines by pharmacists as an encroachment on the rights of traditional practitioners. In contrast, pharmacists emphasized that the law was enacted in order to modernize and standardize herbal drugs: They insisted that the particular form and appearance of the medicine cabinet had changed over time: The legal clause served as a safety barrier, maintaining a peaceful relationship between two distinct spheres for more than a decade until animosities resurfaced in The Material The herbal medicine cabinet is used to categorize, organize, and store medicinal specimens such as herbs, minerals, and animal specimens.
It is designed to enable its user to repeatedly rearrange materia medica as needed. Some traditional herbal medicine cabinets see Fig. The ornate design of these custom-built medicine cabinets associates them with the studio of a scholarly physician. It is said to date back thousands of years, to the earliest times when herbs were utilized for treating illnesses. Although wild speculations abound, the oldest artifacts are only very roughly dated Lim ; Dongseo Medico-Pharma Museum When I spoke with them inpractitioners of and historians of Korean traditional medicine told me that the organizing principle for classifying the herbs was drawn from Daoism.
Only a vestige of that principle is still honored, for the cabinet is divided into three sections according to the therapeutic properties of the herbs. The lower parts of the cabinet were used to store toxic and rare materials. In contemporary Korea, the traditional type of herbal medicine cabinet is found in multiple social worlds, those of Oriental physicians, herbalists, herbal dealers, and Western-style pharmacists.
Mass-produced by Hanseong Hanyakjang or some other local manufacturers, the cabinets share a more or less uniform design: Although the medicine cabinet acquired a standardized form, more research is needed to determine whether embodied practices and procedures surrounding the cabinet are stable and commensurable across the diverse users in clinical settings.
Pros & Cons of Alternative Medicine, Modern Medicine, & Traditional Medicine
The struggles took place in the midst of a massive program of national modernization that included efforts to set medicine on a firmly scientific footing. To present itself as a modern industrialized nation, the South Korean government restructured bureaucratic, administrative, and legal institutions. Inevitably, the South Korean government did not treat the traditional medical system as the equal of Western medicine in drawing up medical and public health policies.
And the government's ambiguous attitudes shaped the cultural, social, and political space in which the relevant professional organizations maneuvered.
The strategic employment of discursive and material resources allowed traditional practitioners to open a cultural and political space in which they were able to invalidate the credentials of Western-style pharmacists to dispense herbal preparations and to argue for elevated professional and political status. By presenting their knowledge and practices as authentic Korean medicine, Oriental medicine doctors claimed an alternative medical paradigm, and Oriental practitioners consolidated their power over rivals such as herbalists and acupuncturists.
In the process, the herbal medicine cabinet served as a material and symbolic link between two distinct professional realms see Table 1. When Korea revived diplomatic relations with China in the late s, traditional Chinese medicine, in its institutionalized form and practice, was reintroduced to South Korea. This exposure prodded local practitioners to begin institutionalizing Oriental medicine in education by, for instance, appropriating Chinese texts. As with most professions, Oriental practitioners homogenized their knowledge and practice by creating uniform curricula.
When Oriental medical schools standardized medical texts in the early s, they embraced the modern sciences embedded in Western medical education. In addition, researchers are under mounting pressure to find compounds to replace those that have become less effective. With bacterial resistance on the rise, for example, the world desperately needs new antibiotics. The same holds true for cancer drugs, which can lose their potency in a patient over time.
And Nature may still be the best place to hunt for such lifesaving compounds. Finding the Needle in the Haystack With about 10 million species inhabiting the earth, how do scientists determine which ones contain potential panaceas? In many cases they are screening randomlya process that yields on average one useful drug for every 20, samples analyzed.
But other researchers employ a different strategy, consulting indigenous people when possible. According to Conservation International, studies have shown that plants identified by locals are in fact up to 60 percent more likely to have pharmaceutical potential than their randomly collected counterparts. Recently plants and sessile or slow-moving marine invertebrates such as sponges, corals and sea slugs have attracted particular attention because for these organisms, running away from a predator is not an option.
Instead they have chemical defenses. And with a little tweaking, the potent toxins they produceas well as those manufactured by certain poisonous snakes, frogs and land invertebratescan actually save lives.
Many drugs in use today have their basis in wild plants. A selection of these are shown here.
Mother Nature's Medicine Cabinet
Of course, targeting a promising compound is only the first step. Before developing a drug from it, a renewable resource for the compound has to be established. This task poses an enormous barrier. Because these compounds often come from rare or slow-growing organisms, or are produced in minute quantities, harvesting the source organisms in sufficient amounts may be unrealistic.
To address this problem, researchers usually try to make synthetic derivatives. But sometimes synthesis proves impossible, or uneconomical, as in the case of Ecteinascidin, an anticancer compound currently in clinical trials that comes from a creature called a sea squirt. In other cases, simply culturing cells from the source organism is sufficient.
Once developed, these drugs, as with all proposed pharmaceuticals, must pass a battery of rigorous test that evaluate their safety and efficacy in animals and then humans. This step, too, can take its toll, especially on start-up companies. Take, for example, the case of Shaman Pharmaceuticals, a once-promising company armed with a product poised to treat people suffering from chronic diarrhea.
Their drug, Provirderived from the sap of croton, a common Amazonian treedid so well in two years of clinical trials that the FDA granted it fast-track status, requiring only one final Phase III trial instead of two. Today the company sells dietary supplements.