Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has recently launched what is considered to be the world’s first traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) research framework along with a guideline for herbal medicinal research.
The new initiative aims to assist traditional healthcare practitioners in developing science-based studies on complementary and alternative medicines. The framework will serve as a guide for stakeholders who are interested in designing, evaluating, and conducting T&CM research.
The Importance of Research in T&CM
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) worldwide, particularly in Asia. For example, T&CM has deep roots in Malaysia. People have long used it to complement healthcare provision in the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as such. “The total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures. Whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health, as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement, or treatment of physical and mental illness.”
However, one of the main challenges for T&CM research is the harmonisation of modern clinical research methodologies with traditional medicine principles and theories. Therefore, the new framework will address this issue. This is done by providing valuable input for evidence-based approaches in T&CM-related policy decision-making. Additionally, by creating an evidence base for information on the safety and efficacy of T&CM practices and products.
Guideline for Herbal Medicine Research
The Health Ministry has also launched the Guideline for Herbal Medicine Research, which follows the conventional requirements for evidence-based products. This guideline is aimed at herbal products that will be used for therapeutic claims as defined by conventional medicine. Also, it provides comprehensive information on the data required for herbal product development, including the quality, pre-clinical, and clinical aspects.
Key Topics Covered by the Framework
The new framework covers a variety of key topics, including general considerations and requirements to conduct research in Malaysia that conforms to current guidelines and regulations. Specific considerations for T&CM research delve more deeply into the principles and key components of T&CM research, including the conduct of clinical and pre-clinical research on T&CM procedure-based therapies and herbal medicine.
The Future of T&CM Research
The new research framework and guidelines for herbal medicine research represent a significant step towards the professionalisation of the T&CM industry. These initiatives will provide a comprehensive guide for researchers interested in developing and conducting T&CM research. Malaysia will regulate, professionalize, and standardize the T&CM industry. Valuable input for evidence-based approaches in T&CM-related policy decision-making is provided. The Health Ministry is optimistic that the new initiatives will create an evidence base for information on the safety and efficacy of T&CM practices and products.
Additionally, you can download the two documents for free from the Health Ministry’s website.