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Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 723289, 9 pages
Review Article

Alternative Perspectives: How Chinese Medicine Understands Hypercholesterolemia

1Department of Medicine, Monash University, Prahran, VIC 3800, Australia
2Faculty of Health, Engineering & Science, Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, St Albans, VIC 8001, Australia

Received 17 March 2010; Revised 29 May 2010; Accepted 9 June 2010

Academic Editor: Jan Wouter Jukema

Copyright © 2010 Kylie A. O'Brien. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Treatment of cardiovascular disease, albeit under the auspices of other clinical descriptors to those described in western biomedicine, has a long history in China. Chinese Medicine (CM) is guided by unique philosophical underpinnings and theories. There are differences in how the heart is conceptualised traditionally in CM compared to biomedicine. This paper focusses on how hypercholesterolemia is understood from within the Chinese medical paradigm, including its aetiology, pathogenesis, and treatment. A brief overview of the key characteristics and theories of CM is given to provide context. Modern science has demonstrated that many Chinese herbs have cholesterol-lowering properties. Examples of research into individual herbs and medicinal formulae, combinations of herbs are presented. At a more sophisticated level, some researchers are challenging some of the very assumptions upon which CM is based, including applicability of CM theory to modern clinical entities such as hypercholesterolemia, and are seeking intersections of knowledge between CM and biomedicine that may extend CM theory.