It is essential that an information campaign promoting proper use of TM/CAM is undertaken with knowledge of the social, cultural, religious and spiritual context in which it is based. Each country has its own set of medical knowledge based on the local culture and past experience. As a result, medical concepts and understandings can vary significantly from one country to the next. For instance, a traditional Chinese medicine for the heart will not treat the same conditions as heart medications in conventional medicine. This is because the term ‘heart’ in traditional Chinese medicine does not only mean the physical organ ‘heart’, but also includes some functions conventional medicine would attribute to the brain. This is an example of how simple cultural misunderstanding can easily occur.
When medicines are being traded in foreign markets, the domestic consumers often wrongly apply their own medical concepts and understanding to the imported traditional medicines, often resulting in misunderstanding and subsequent misuse.