Syndrome differentiation in modern research of traditional Chinese medicine

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Apr 10;140(3):634-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.01.033. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


Syndrome differentiation (Bian Zheng) in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the comprehensive analysis of clinical information gained by the four main diagnostic TCM procedures: observation, listening, questioning, and pulse analysis, and it is used to guide the choice of treatment either by acupuncture and/or TCM herbal formulae, that is, Fufang. TCM syndrome differentiation can be used for further stratification of the patients' conditions with certain disease, identified by orthodox medical diagnosis, which could help the improvement of efficacy of the selected intervention. In modern TCM research it is possible to integrate syndrome differentiation with orthodox medical diagnosis leading to new scientific findings in overall medical diagnosis and treatment. In this review, the focus is to screen published evidence on the role of syndrome differentiation in modern TCM research with particular emphasis on basic and clinical research as well as, pharmacological evaluation of TCM herbal formulary for drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Diagnosis, Differential*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Syndrome


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal