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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 3, Pages 303-305

A Milestone in Codifying the Wisdom of Traditional Oriental Medicine: TCM, Kampo, TKM, TVM—WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region

1College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea
2Natural Products Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea

Received 10 October 2008; Accepted 5 December 2008

Copyright © 2010 Seung-Hoon Choi and Il-Moo Chang. 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.


The WHO published a dictionary-type book entitled ‘WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region’ which has a total of 3259 technical terms which have been commonly used in traditional Chinese (TCM), Japanese (Kampo), Korean (TKM) and Vietnamese (TVM) medicines. In this comprehensive guide, each term has the English expression, the original Chinese character and a concise English definition. The book covers 3106 terms from basic theories, diagnostics, diseases, various therapeutics including acupuncture and moxibustion and even the English wording of 153 titles which are considered the most important traditional medical classics published in these four countries. A prominent feature of the compilation is the codification format that assigns numbers in hundred decimal units for each category of the section. This type of coding system provides the flexibility for adding more terminologies in the future and is useful for constructing a database for the retrieval of various published scientific articles. Overall, the usage of these standard terminologies is highly desirable to deliver accurate meanings, and ultimately to avoid a variety of expressions for a single term in different scientific manuscripts on Oriental medicine.