TCM is gaining popularity in Australia but the customised nature of TCM prescriptions makes it difficult to evaluate by Western standards, says Dr Josiah Poon from the University’s School of Information Technologies, host of next month’s Linking Practice to Research and Teaching of TCM lecture.
“Unlike Western practices, TCM remedies aren’t subject to clinical trials but – as the government looks to regulate practitioners from 2012 – there is a growing demand to prove the effectiveness of TCM with quantitative, empirical evidence,” he says.
“Our research applies data mining techniques and builds algorithms to ascertain the two or three core herbs used to treat particular ailments.”
The University is working with the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences to build data on the efficacy of TCM treatments for insomnia.
“It’s not enough to analyse the 120 herbs and 400 or so prescriptions used to cure insomnia,” says Dr Poon. “We also factor in the four or five body types identified by TCM, as each body type responds differently to herbs.
“We have managed to find two or three herbs which seem to be very important for all insomnia treatments. The feedback on our results from Beijing has been favourable, and consistent with the theory of TCM as documented by centuries-old literature.”
After completing its work on insomnia the group hopes to turn its research to public health issues of concern in both China and Australia such as cancer and diabetes.
Dr Poon and Professor Kelvin Chan (joint Chair of TCM at the University of Sydney and the University of Western Sydney) are combining their respective expertise in health informatics and TCM to build evidence of the efficacy of TCM in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Academy Vice President Professor Baoyin Liu and Professor Chan will individually outline their work at the lecture.
What:Linking Practice to Research and Teaching of TCM
When: 6pm for a 6.30pm start, Thursday 22 July
Where: Lecture Theatre 024, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free but registration at the School of Information Technologies website is essential.
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