Sidebar: For Further Information - Alternative Medicine

With consumer interest in "natural" remedies on the rise, some academic and corporate researchers have begun to look for new drugs among ancient remedies. Several such efforts focus on the rich, detailed pharmacopoeia of Chinese herbal medicine, which has been painstakingly recorded and passed on for generations. In contemporary China-as in much of the world-herbal concoctions remain the predominant form of medication. In the hands of Western scientists, however, traditional herbs represent potential sources of single active compounds.

BUDDING PROMISE: Sylvia Lee-Huang and colleagues have identified molecular mechanisms by which a protein derived from bitter melon, shown here, may act to suppress HIV infection.
These projects, though still in their infancy, grew out of the pharmaceutical industry's longtime practice of seeking drug leads in plants. Some of the many plant-based medicines include digitalis, from foxglove, used to treat congestive heart failure and cardiac...

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