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Interest in TCM fosters niche market for US farmers

Chinese medicine, Chinese herbs, US farmers

Expanding interest in traditional Chinese medicine in the United States is fostering a potentially lucrative new niche market for farmers who plant the varieties of herbs, flowers and trees sought by practitioners.

在美国,对中药渐强的兴趣正在为一些农场主创造一个有利可图的小众市场:他们种植开业医师想要的药草、花和树木。

While almost all practitioners still rely on imports from China, dwindling wild stands there, as well as quality and safety concerns, could drive up demand for herbs grown in the U.S. Several states have set up "growing groups" to help farmers establish trial stands of the most popular plants.

几乎所有医师还都依赖从中国进口的原材料,但野生药材的减少以及质量和安全问题可能提升对美国种植的药材的需求。几个州已经设立"种植小组",帮助农场主确定最常用药材的试验群丛。

"As a farmer, I love the idea of growing something no one else is growing, something that's good for people," said Rebekah Rice of Delmar, near Albany, who is among 30 members of a New York growing group. "This project is seriously fascinating."

德尔马的丽贝卡·赖斯说:"身为农场主,我喜欢这个建议——种其他人不种的东西,对人们有益的东西。这个项目真的很棒。"她是纽约种植小组的30名成员之一。

Jean Giblette, a researcher who has established New York's group, said it could also be a moneymaker. She estimates the market for domestically grown medicinal plants to be $200 million to $300 million a year.

建立这个小组的研究人员琼·吉布利特说,这也可能很赚钱。她估计,本地种植草药的市场价值将达到每年两三亿美元。

Traditional Chinese medicine is gaining mainstream acceptance in the U.S. There are 30,000 licensed practitioners across the country — 46 states issue licenses, often requiring a master's degree and continuing education credits. In 2014, the Cleveland Clinic opened one of the first hospital-based Chinese herbal therapy clinics in the country.

中药在美国逐渐得到主流的认可。全美有三万名执照医师。有46个州发放许可,常常要求硕士学位和进一步的资质。2014年,克利夫兰诊所开设了一家中药治疗诊所,这是全美第一批设在医院的中药诊所之一。

Jamie Starkey, a licensed practitioner of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine at the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, said quality, authenticity and purity are important concerns with herbal products.

克利夫兰诊所综合医学中心的针灸和中医执照医师杰米·斯塔基说,对草药而言,质量、真假和纯度都非常重要。

"If growers in the U.S. can produce a highest-quality product that is identical to species from China, without contamination from heavy metals or pesticides, I think it's a great opportunity for farmers," Starkey said.

斯塔基说:"如果美国的种植者能培育出跟来自中国的品种一模一样的高质产品,没有重金属或杀虫剂污染,我认为这对农场主来说是一个很好的机会。"

More than 300 plants are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. Giblette and Peg Schafer, an herb grower in Petaluma, California, compiled a list of marketable species for U.S. farmers. They include Angelica dahurica, a flowering perennial whose root is used to relieve pain and inflammation; Aster tataricus, a relative of garden asters said to have anti-bacterial properties; Mentha haplocalyx, a mint used for stomach ailments; and Salvia miltiorrhiza, a type of sage whose roots are used for treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

中医常用的草材有300多种。吉布利特和加利福尼亚州佩塔卢马的草药种植者佩格·谢弗为美国的农场主编纂了一个可销售药材品种表。表里包括白芷(一种开花的多年生植物,根部可用来缓解疼痛和炎症)、紫菀(据说有抗菌的功效)、薄荷(用于缓解肚子疼)和丹参(鼠尾草属植物,根部用于治疗心血管疾病)。

The National Institutes of Health says traditional Chinese medical techniques — which included practices such as acupuncture and Tai Chi — are primarily used as a complement to mainstream medicine. The agency cautions that some medicinal herbs can have serious side effects, and there isn't enough rigorous scientific evidence to know whether traditional Chinese medicine works for the conditions it treats. Clinical trials are difficult because treatments involve combinations of plants customized for each patient.

美国国家卫生研究院说,中医的技术——包括针灸和太极拳等技法——主要用作主流医药的补充。该机构警告说,某些草药可能产生严重的副作用,此外也没有严格的科学证据显示中医对于所治疗的病症确实有效。临床试验非常困难,因为治疗涉及针对每一位患者配制的草药。

Giblette, who started High Falls Foundation in New York's Hudson Valley in 2008 to foster research and conservation of medicinal plants, said growing under conditions similar to a plant's natural habitat is one of the keys to producing high quality medicinal plants. The foundation will provide the plants so it can ensure the authenticity of species and market products only to licensed herbal practitioners.

吉布利特2008年在纽约哈得孙谷创办海福尔斯基金会以促进草药的研究和保护。她说,要培育高质量的中草药,在与其自然生长环境类似的环境下种植是关键。这个基金会将提供有关的植株以确保品种的真实性并且只向持照中医销售产品。

Market research shows high demand and low supply, said Rob Glenn, chairman of the nonprofit Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Pilot, Virginia.

弗吉尼亚州派勒特的非营利机构蓝岭中药中心负责人罗布·格伦说,市场研究显示,对中药材的需求很高而供给很低。

"The current herbs from China are not of the quality they once were and U.S. practitioners indicate they are willing to pay a premium price for herbs grown with organic principles, locally, with high efficacy," he said.

他说:"目前来自中国的药材质量不比从前,美国医师表示愿意为在本地有机培育的高质药材支付额外费用。"

Using an economic development grant from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Blue Ridge Center is enlisting local farmers to grow medicinal herbs that the center will process and sell to licensed practitioners. This year, the center planted 38 species on 35 farms.

蓝岭中心用烟草种植地区振兴委员会的一项经济发展拨款招募当地农场主种植药用植物,再加工销售给持照医师。今年,该中心在35块农场种了38种中药材并把一批收成发给26位医师,他们同意对药材的质量和有效性进行评价。

The center sent samples from the first harvest to 26 practitioners who agreed to evaluate the quality and efficacy. "We were super impressed by the samples we received," said Ken Morehead, a practitioner at Oriental Health Solutions in Durham, North Carolina. "We really want to have access to clean organic herbs. I think the farmers can do well and we can have an industry that supports the local economy, is good for the environment and improves people's health."

北卡罗来纳达勒姆东方健康解决方案中心的医师肯·莫尔黑德说:"我们对样本的质量超级满意。我们非常希望得到干净的有机药材。我认为这些农场主可以经营得很好,我们也可以发展一项支持地方经济、有利于环境、改善人们健康的行业。"

From an economic standpoint, Glenn said the goal is to introduce a crop that could supplement a farmer's income by as much as $15,000 a year — effectively doubling the income of farmers in the economically distressed area.

格伦说,从经济角度,他们的目标是引进一种作物,每年最多给农场主的收入增加1.5万美元,相当于使经济困难地区的农场主增加一倍收入。

To reach that goal, a farmer would have to devote an acre to the project for eight years, Glenn said. Because some of the plants are trees or perennials that take years to grow to marketable size, it will take time to achieve maximum return on investment, he said.

格伦说,要实现这一目标,一名农场主需要拿出一英亩的土地在这个项目投入八年。他说,因为有些药材是树木或多年生植物,需要几年才能长到可以销售的程度,要实现投资的最大回报需要时间。

The center's initial research indicates a return-on-investment ranging from $1.69 per plant for Celosia, an annual flowering plant used for various eye maladies and bleeding, to $20 for Angelica.

该中心的初期研究显示,投资回报从每棵植物1.69美元到20美元不等。

"As we continue our experimentation, we will endeavor to have our farmers plant more of the high-value and high-demand plants," Glenn said.

格伦说:"随着实验的继续,我们将努力让农场主种植更多价值高需求量大的植物。"

2016-06-22

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