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Gut microbiota: a new angle for traditional herbal medicine research

Traditional Herbal Medicine (THM) has been used for thousands of years, and is still popular worldwide due to its effectiveness in a variety of diseases. THM has also formed the basis of and played an important role in discovering modern drugs like artemisinin and paclitaxel. Lin et al from China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Tianjin University, and Guangxi Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science investigated the studies available that focused on the efficacy, active ingredients and bioavailability of THM, and the function of gut microbiota in THM-mediated treatment of disease. They hypothesized that most THMs treated disease via three mechanisms: (1) metabolizing into active metabolites by the action of gut microbiota/flora, (2) regulation of gut microbiota balance, and (3) regulating the fermentation products of the gut microbes. Therefore, they concluded that focusing on these aspects could elucidate the pharmacodynamic constituents of THM preparations, and their therapeutic mechanisms of action.

Herbal medicine is another main approach besides acupuncture used in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Actually herbal medicine used in TCM also act on gut microbiota to affect/treat the body.

What is the difference between THM and Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM)?

IF a herb is used by the guidance of TCM theories e.g. five elements, four nature and five tastes, the herb can be called CHM! Simple difference right? 


Lin L, Luo L, Zhong M, Xie T, Liu Y, Li H, Ni J. Gut microbiota: a new angle for traditional herbal medicine research. RSC Advances. 2019;9(30):17457-72.

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