According to local media reports, Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has recently finished development of a new herbal medicine databank. Two years in the making, the new database uses modern technology to identify and classify 300 types of traditional herbal medicine at the molecular level.
The project was completed with the support of the Department of Industrial Technology under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
Local herbal botanical experts were sent to collect 300 herbal medicine samples from the source of the material’s main production areas, both in mainland China and Taiwan. The collected samples included 185 traditionally used Chinese herbal medicines as well as 115 kinds of herbal medicines only found in Taiwan.
The herbal medicines were classified using several newly developed criteria including chemical and DNA fingerprinting, a preserved sample herbarium and GIS-based plant distribution maps.
Project director Lee Lian-si said that traditional methods of herbal medicine identification required experts with many years of experience, and were often dependent on observing the medicine’s external appearance. As the herbal medicine compound is altered after processing, the ability to identify the herbal compound by traditional methods can be compromised, leading to contamination and reduced medicinal effectiveness.
ITRI and the Department of Industrial Technology hope the resultant databank, now capable of identifying herbal drug breeding matches, quality detection and raw material authentication, will contribute to the internationalization of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.