However, large sections of the population in developing countries still rely on traditional practitioners and herbal medicines for their primary care. In africa up to 90% and in india 70% of the population depend on traditional medicine to help meet their health care needs. In china, traditional medicine accounts for around 40% of all health care delivered and more than 90% of general hospitals in china have units for traditional medicine . However, use of traditional medicine is not limited to developing countries, and during the past two decades public interest in natural therapies has increased greatly in industrialized countries, with expanding use of ethnobotanicals. In the united states, in 2007, about 38% of adults and 12% of children were using some form of traditional medicine (ernst, schmidt, and wider 2005; barnes, bloom, and nahin 2008). According to a survey by the national center for complementary and alternative medicine , herbal therapy or the usage of natural products other than vitamins and minerals was the most commonly used alternative medicine (18.9%) when all use of prayer was excluded.
A survey conducted in hong kong in 2003 reported that 40% of the subjects surveyed showed marked faith in tcm compared with western medicine (chan et al. 2003). The major use of herbal medicines is for health promotion and therapy for chronic, as opposed to life-threatening, conditions. turmeric powder benefits However, usage of traditional remedies increases when conventional medicine is ineffective in the treatment of disease, such as in advanced cancer and in the face of new infectious diseases.
Furthermore, traditional medicines are widely perceived as natural and safe, that is, not toxic. This is not necessarily true, especially when herbs are taken with prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or other herbs, as is very common (canter and ernst 2004; qato et al. 2008; loya, gonzalez-stuart, and rivera 2009; cohen and ernst 2010). Herbal medicine has been commonly used over the years for treatment and prevention of diseases and health promotion as well as for enhancement of the span and quality of life. However, there is a lack of a systematic approach to assess their safety and effectiveness. The holistic approach to health care makes herbal medicine very attractive to many people, but it also makes scientific evaluation very challenging because so many factors must be taken into account.
In general, international research on traditional herbal medicines should be subject to the same ethical requirements as all research related to human subjects, with the information shared between different countries. However, the logistics, time, and cost of performing large, controlled human studies on the clinical effectiveness of an herb are prohibitive, especially if the focus is on health promotion. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new biomarkers that more clearly relate to health outcomes.
Predictor biomarkers and subtle but detectable signs of early cellular change that are mapped to the onset of specific diseases are needed. Over the past 100 years, the development and mass production of chemically synthesized drugs have revolutionized health care in most parts of the word.