Applying evidence-based medicine to traditional chinese medicine: debate and strategy

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Apr;12(3):255-63. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.255.


Drawing on recent paper published literature in both English and Chinese, this explores reactions to the evaluation of Chinese medicine using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and the standards of evidence-based medicine (EBM). The literature review revealed a few sources which contend that Chinese medicine should not be evaluated on the basis of RCTs, but a far greater number which advocate for applying RCT and EBM standards to Chinese medicine. This paper describes the position of the detractors and points out ways in which their arguments contain oversimplified representations of Chinese medicine, biomedicine, EBM, and RCTs. In describing the position of the proponents, the analysis outlines some of the numerous innovative techniques they are developing for dealing with issues of control and standardization in efficacy research. Overall, the analysis indicates that important refinements are being generated in Chinese medicine research and clinical trial design in response to the challenges posed by the forced encounter of these two paradigms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / standards*
  • Peer Review
  • Professional Competence
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome