Herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years. The practice continues today because of its biomedical benefits and place in cultural beliefs in many parts of the world. The economic reality of the inaccessibility of modern medication for many societies has also played a major role in the broad use of herbal medicines.
The World Health Organization has recognized the contribution and value of the herbal medicines used by a large segment of the world’s population. A growing interest in usage has created the need for greater precision in preparation and evaluation and has stimulated research into herbal medicines’ various uses and applications.
The Western Pacific Region has a rich tradition of preparation and use of herbal medicines. In 1992, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific invited a group of experts to develop criteria and general principles to guide research work on evaluating herbal medicines. These guidelines have been prepared for research on different forms of herbal medicines, including those in traditional use. Basic scientific principles as well as any special requirements related to the use of herbal medicines in traditional practice have been incorporated in these guidelines.
These guidelines are published to support the application of evaluation principles by modern science to a tradition of herbal medicine that is still extremely vibrant and of growing interest throughout the world.
S.T. Han, MD, Ph.D.