Herbal medicine: Good enough for WHO, for you?

According to a report by Functional Ingredients, the World Health Organization has called for greater integration of traditional herbal medicines into national health care systems.

"Governments should establish systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of traditional medicine practitioners," said WHO in the declaration. "Traditional medicine practitioners should upgrade their knowledge and skills based on national requirements."

Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general, told the China Daily: "The two systems of traditional and Western medicine need not clash. Within the context of primary healthcare, they can blend together in harmony, using the best features of each system."

I certainly have seen an increase in alternative or holistic therapies offered alongside western medicine here in Colorado (for example, a friend of mine currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer is also able to take advantage of acupuncture and other complementary therapies, and I have heard friends say that their doctors recommend a particular immune-boosting herbal remedy, for example). What do you think: Is the fracture between alternative and western medicine in the U.S. starting to mend? Tell us your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Update on 12/10/09: Survey results just released today by the National Institutes of Health indicate that 38 percent of adults and 18 percent of kids in the U.S. use complementary and alternative medicine. Of the different types of therapies, natural products—such as fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng—topped the list. More people practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, and yoga than in the past. For a quick guide to alternative therapies, check out our guide "Alternative Medicine Practitioners."

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