Traditional Chinese medicine--what are we investigating? The case of menopause

Complement Ther Med. 2007 Mar;15(1):54-68. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2005.12.002. Epub 2006 Feb 9.


CAM researchers commonly treat traditional medicines as unchanging systems. This article questions the validity of this approach by examining the treatment of menopausal syndrome by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Such treatment strategies were invented in 1964 and betray a strong influence of biomedical thinking. While they determine TCM treatment of menopausal syndrome in the West, physicians in China and Japan use many other treatment strategies from within the wider Chinese medical tradition in clinical practice. Cultural variability in the manifestation of menopausal syndrome furthermore questions the usefulness of simply importing treatment strategies from China to the West. This leads me to conclude that Chinese medicine as such can never be evaluated by means of clinical research. What we can do is use Chinese medicine as a resource for thinking about illness, and for formulating clinical interventions that may then be assessed using methods of evidence based research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Biomedical Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Menopause*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Syndrome