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Traditional Chinese medicine and agriculture; organic life and sustainability for future

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Sustainability is a long-term and wide-ranging concept that requires producers to look to the future as well as the present, and consider both global and local situations. Cultivation of Chinese medicinal herbs and usage of traditional Chinese medicine significantly helps to promote sustainable agricultural development via growing demand for organic and herbal products in different regions. Chinese medicinal plants, both endemic and widespread, must be preserved since these plants could be renewable source for new drugs. Some advantages of organic farming of medicinal plants are to produce material in optimal quality and sufficient quantity, to protect medicinal plants against pests and disease, to maintain the genetic diversity of medicinal plants, the enhance the biosynthesis of efficacious substances, to increase growth rate and biomass yield of medicinal plants. On the basis of economic prospects, organic farming may lead to increase more market opportunity, to maintain high market price, to achieve optimal quality and economic returns and to secure economic growth and social stability. Traditional Chinese medicine plays an important role in sustainable agriculture and food systems, it also offers a holistic approach to prevent diseases while making appropriate use of organic and herbal products especially growth by small-scale family farmers.
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(REVIEW ART I C L E )
Traditional Chinese medicine and agriculture; organic life and sustainability for
future
Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian 1, 2, Wenli Sun 1, 2 and Qi Cheng 1, 2, *
1 Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China.
2 Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory, Qi Institute, Building C4, No.555 Chuangye, Jiaxing 314000, Zhejiang, China.
Publication history: Received on 26 March 2019; revised on 15 April 2019; accepted on 17 April 2019
Article DOI: https://doi.org/10.30574/gscbps.2019.7.1.0052
Abstract
Sustainability is a long-term and wide-ranging concept that requires producers to look to the future as well as the
present, and consider both global and local situations. Cultivation of Chinese medicinal herbs and usage of traditional
Chinese medicine significantly helps to promote sustainable agricultural development via growing demand for organic
and herbal products in different regions. Chinese medicinal plants, both endemic and widespread, must be preserved
since these plants could be renewable source for new drugs. Some advantages of organic farming of medicinal plants
are to produce material in optimal quality and sufficient quantity, to protect medicinal plants against pests and disease,
to maintain the genetic diversity of medicinal plants, the enhance the biosynthesis of efficacious substances, to increase
growth rate and biomass yield of medicinal plants. On the basis of economic prospects, organic farming may lead to
increase more market opportunity, to maintain high market price, to achieve optimal quality and economic returns and
to secure economic growth and social stability. Traditional Chinese medicine plays an important role in sustainable
agriculture and food systems, it also offers a holistic approach to prevent diseases while making appropriate use of
organic and herbal products especially growth by small-scale family farmers.
Keywords: Traditional Chinese Medicine; Organic Life; Sustainability
1. Introduction
It has been reported that China is the native home to a greater diversity of the world’s herbal plants than any other
regions in the world. China is a major country and source of valuable medicinal plants, herbs, crops and of course
ornamental species [1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12]. Chinese agriculture started during Neolithic period and this farming
culture has persisted for many years; in spite the fact that, China is still at a critical point of agricultural transformation
from traditional to modern methods [13]. China has historical relationship with medicinal plant for more than 2000
years, and it was demonstrated by medicinal herbs which have been found in the Mawangdui tombs of Hinan province
that is related to 186 B.C. The herbal apothecary in China grew from hundred herbs recorded in the oldest version of
Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing by Tao Hongjing to almost 1,900 substances in Li Shizhen,s monumental encyclopedic research,
the Bencao Gangmu published a few years after his death in the late Ming dynasty, 1596 AD. TCM theory has the
character of holism, and is told mainly by concepts related to Chinese philosophy and culture. The classic canons of
Chinese culture, such as The Book of Changes and Laozi or Taodejing, have their deep relationships with NeiJing that
lays a foundation of TCM theory. These books acknowledge of that everything in the world is movable and changeable,
so do the health and disease of a man. TCM theory mainly emphasizes on the self-healing power of man for curing
disease and keeping fitness, and many of its therapies are employed for enhancing this power. TCM includes herbal
medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, food therapy and physical exercise. According to the principle of TCM,
the herbal formulae include four elements: the monarch (Jun), minister (Chen), assistant (Zuo), and servant (Shi). In
Mohamad et al. / GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2019, 07(01), 091095
92
TCM formulae, monarch aims at the cardinal pathological symptom of a disease. Minister assists monarch to treat other
secondary symptoms. Assistant and servant mainly coordinate the formulae, facilitate performances of monarch and
minister, and decrease their side effects. They work together harmoniously to achieve an ideal therapeutic outcome
[14]. Both TCM and modern medicine contain different ways of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation as well as
health care due to their individual theories. Chinese Pharmacopeia were changed for what part of the herb or species
could be use from wild-gathered herbs. For example, for Xi Xin (AsariHerba) and Lu Gen (Phragmitis rhizoma) the whole
plant was used rather than just the root, and the Aristolochia fangchi species began to be used for Fang Ji (Called Guang
Fang Ji) [15].Cultivation of medicinal herbs in both Asia, Europe and of course North America is the appropriate
alternative to use wild medicinal herbs. Agronomic management like crop rotation, organic growing methods and using
plants propagated from sprouted seeds could be use also for Chinese medicinal herbs. Due to rapid grows of global
market for medicinal herbs, new agricultural technology such as cultivation techniques such as plant propagation is one
of the introduced option of this technique. While many companies and farmers choose to spend time and higher price
for organic food production, the appropriate management of pesticide and herbicide use can be practiced in China and
other regions. Unlike the some traditional beliefs that emphasize on the importance of growing herbs in their traditional
environments, Chinese medicinal herbs can introduce to new regions. But, in all situations, sustainable practices from
cultivation to final harvest should be part of agronomical management of traditional Chinese medicine. The goal of
organic farming of medicinal plants include producing material with both better quality and high productivity, and
ensuring the conservation and sustainable utilization of these important plants. The simple definition of sustainability
is a perfect strategy for living that uses its finite resources without exhausting nor destroying them. It does not
necessarily mean that do not consider maximum yield and profits, but it simply means considering maximum yield and
fastest growth as much as thinking about the health of the entire ecosystem. Besides, the developing and production of
traditional Chinese herbs should be at a speed that does not destroy the system’s balancing mechanisms. Also, all drug
discovery programs, synthetic or natural, should be the concept of sustainability [16]. It is essential to understand the
ecology of a species to assess how it should be harvested and how much can safely be taken each time without causing
decline in its population or having negative influence on the environment. In sustainable agriculture, it is also important
to keep a balance between production and demand; a rapid rise in demand for a medicinal herb maybe a threat to its
sustainability. Various researches have been complied regarding their conservation, including the establishment of
systems for species inventorying and status monitoring, and the need for coordinated conservation practices bases on
both in site and ext site strategies [17]. Good agricultural practices for medicinal plants have been formulated to regulate
production, ensure quality and facilitate the standardization of herbal drugs [18-19-20-21-22]. An appropriate
agricultural practices approach ensures high quality, safe and pollution-fee herbal drugs by applying available
knowledge to address various problems [23]. Some advantages of organic farming of medicinal plants are to produce
material in optimal quality and sufficient quantity, to protect medicinal plants against pests and disease, to maintain the
genetic diversity of medicinal plants, the enhance the biosynthesis of efficacious substances, to increase growth rate
and biomass yield of medicinal plants. On the basis of economic prospects, organic farming may lead to increase more
market opportunity, to maintain high market price, to achieve optimal quality and economic returns and to secure
economic growth and social stability. Zhao-Seiler [15] has concluded that the demand for Chinese medicinal herbs has
grown rapidly and significantly over past decades, and practitioners are starting to be concerned not only about the
quality of the herbs they use, but also about their sustainability. Zhao-Seiler [15] had noticed that the biggest challenge
to sustainability of sensitive medicinal herbs is increasing demands, and this demand is found in both in the world-wide
TCM community, and in the international cosmetics and food industries. Wang et al. [24] reported that from the
perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) constitution theory, the TCM constitution focuses on the life process
in a continuous evolution based on individual development at different phases or stages from infancy to senility. They
have also mentioned that the development of traditional Chinese medicine constitution is beneficial in accumulating the
theoretical and practical experience for promoting the application of TCM constitution health service into the full life
cycle and providing theory, technique and method for TCM health service in the full cycle. Sun et al. [25] concluded that
traditional Chinese medicine constitution (TCMC), is one of the most important parts of Chinese medicine theory, which
attracted the attention of more researchers during past several decades. Liu [26] indicated that the traditional Chinese
medicine (TCM) perspective is based on energy; so, extending research on the human energy system may lead to the
establishment of a modern TCM research field that is firmly grounded in the principles of TCM. Dong et al. [27]
mentioned the importance of harmony between the heart and kidney in traditional Chinese medicine which is important
in patients with insomnia, anxiety disorder and menopausal syndrome. Chen et al. [28] showed that both conservation
strategies (e.g. in situ and ex situ conservation and cultivation practices) and resource management (e.g. good
agricultural practices and sustainable use solutions) should be adequately taken into account for the sustainable use of
medicinal plant resources. Health management interaction based on traditional Chinese medicine has a positive
influence on improving people’s attention to their health, encouraging them to participate in health management
activities and develop the habit caring about their health over long term [29-30].
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Table 1 Main Chinese material medica under cultivation [31]
Chinese material medica
Main producing area
Area (km2)
Dangshen
Linchuan
3.3
Danshen
Shangluo, Fangcheng, Zhongjiang, Linqi
51
Panaxpseudoginseng
Wenshan
67
Banlangen
Fuyang, Daqing
40
American ginseng
Jingyu
10
Panax ginseng
Jingyu, Fusong, Ji,an
10
Coptis
Shizhu, Zhenping, Enshi city
45
Huajuhong
Huazhou
10
Xuanshen
Zhenping
7
Changzhou
Luotian
2
Touhualiao
Shibing
20
Ginkgo
Chongming, Pizhou
24
Jinyinhua
Pingyi, Fengqiu
12
Tiepishihu
Wuyi, Tiantai, Xinshuangbannan
6
Chuanxiong
Pengzhou
67
Dihuang
Wushe
200
Fuzi
Jiangyou
2
Shanmaidong
Quanzhou
5
Chuanxinlian
Qingyuan
3
Dengzhanhua
Luxi
7
Chuanbei
Sonpan and Mao County
2
Shanzhuyu
Xixia county
147
Yanhusuo
Fuzhou in Jiangxi province
24
Kushen
Changzhi
67
Longdan
Qingyuan
13
2. Conclusion
TCM, which is an essential part of the health care system in most Asian countries, relies on natural products and has
been playing a very important role in health protection and disease control for many years. When it comes to sustainable
production of traditional Chinese herbs, considering the quality of grown or harvested should not endanger the future
survival of the plants or adverse influence on the environment. Like other crops, sustainable production of traditional
Chinese herbs depend on innovations in various agricultural fields, such as genetics, breeding, agronomy, crop
physiology, germplasm resources, grain chemistry, grain storage and final processing, crop biotechnology, crop
management practices and biomathematics. Some advantages of organic farming of medicinal plants are to produce
material in optimal quality and sufficient quantity, to protect medicinal plants against pests and disease, to maintain the
genetic diversity of medicinal plants, the enhance the biosynthesis of efficacious substances, to increase growth rate
and biomass yield of medicinal plants. On the basis of economic prospects, organic farming may lead to increase more
market opportunity, to maintain high market price, to achieve optimal quality and economic returns and to secure
economic growth and social stability.There are various factors that may need to take into account in assessing
sustainability, such as ecological, social, cultural and economic variables. Traditional Chinese medicine plays an
Mohamad et al. / GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2019, 07(01), 091095
94
important role in sustainable agriculture and food systems, it also offers a holistic approach to prevent diseases while
making appropriate use of organic and herbal products especially growth by small-scale family farmers. Integrative use
of modern agriculture and science of traditional Chinese herbs with novel technologies will secure production of
medicinal herbs in China and other parts of the world.
Compliance with ethical standards
Acknowledgments
Thankful to Qi Institute and Faculty of Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science for financing the
research expenses.
Disclosure of conflict of interest
We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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The adzuki bean (Vigna angularis) is a traditional legume crop that plays a crucial role in both the sustainability of agricultural systems and the supply of food protein. Having been used for thousands of years in China as traditional Chinese medicine and food, the adzuki bean has a great potential to be a drug candidate or functional food. Adzuki is a good source of essential fatty acids, fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals such as polyphenols and phytates. Legumes are nitrogen-fixing systems that have long been used for biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture. The biologically fixed nitrogen of adzuki beans can reduce the hazards of chemical fertilizers. Because of the increasing requests for plant production, especially protein and oils, and to decrease the economic and environmental pressure on agricultural ecosystems, grain legumes such as adzuki beans are expected to play a major role in future crop systems and sustainable agriculture. Legumes, especially those that have various medicinal effects, can help to restore organic matter to the soil and reduce pests and diseases problems, and they may lead to increased soil fertility. Adzuki beans have considerable potential globally to be a functional food for health promotion and disease prevention not only in Asian countries, but also in other parts of the world. China is the home of the soybean. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a natural and organic healthcare system in which the body is viewed as a complex network of interconnected parts. The most important health benefits of soybeans are that they improve metabolic activity, promote healthy weight gain, have anticancer potential, boost heart health, relieve menopausal symptoms, boost digestion, improve bone health, prevent birth defects, improve circulation, control diabetes, and relieve sleep disorders. Soybeans can clear heat, detoxify, ease urination, lubricate the lungs and intestine, and serve as an excellent source of protein. In soybeans, atmospheric nitrogen (N2) fixation happens in the nodules, which grow in the roots and are produced by N2-fixing rhizobial bacteria. Most of these bacteria belong to the genera Bradyrhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Rhizobium, and Sinorhizobium. With the world’s increasing dependence on agriculture to feed its population, the use of reduced nitrogen derived from energy provided by fossil fuels is not likely to be sustainable. The key to future sustainable agriculture is to utilize the fundamental knowledge of the process of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in association with other agricultural practices to benefits an increasing world population. The food therapy of TCM aims to maintain balanced nutrition through diet. Mung beans, also known as lu dou, are a traditional soy food consumed mainly in East Asia, especially China and Japan. It has been used both as nutritional food and herbal medicine. The two principal properties that make mung beans useful to agriculture are their high protein content and their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The factors determining the symbiotic process are the genetic constitution of the host plant and the bacteria, the environment, and technological inputs such as inocula, fertilizers, and pesticides. As a consequence of the persistent energy crises, which result in higher fertilizer costs, biological N2 fixation has become one of the most attractive strategies for the development of sustainable agricultural systems. Inoculation with Bradyrhizobium enhanced the nodulation, shoot biomass, and grain yield of mung beans. The legume residues can supply more mineral nitrogen to the succeeding crops than cereal residues can, owing to the relatively high nitrogen content of the legume residues. In traditional Chinese medicine, the mung bean clears heat, detoxifies, quenches thirst, promotes urination, reduces swelling, and reduces edema in the lower limbs. It is recommended for edema, conjunctivitis, diabetes, dysentery, summer heat, heatstroke, dehydration, and food poisoning from spoiled food. All in all, the most important health benefits of mung beans are antioxidant effects, antifungal and antimicrobial activity, antiinflammatory activity, and their antidiabetes, antihypertension, and anticancer effects. Mung beans are rich is easily digestible protein. They also contain vitamin A, iron, calcium, zinc, and folate. and are high in vitamins B1, B2, and C and niacin. Their antinutrients are phytic acid, tannins, hemagglutinins, and polyphenols. Nutrition therapy based on TCM is quite effective at treating common diseases.
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The functional food industry has been developing rapidly in recent years. Great progress has been made in this industry, especially in the number the claims related and the quality of the functional foods. The most important pharmacological properties of jujube are antidiabetic effects, hypnotic-sedative and anxiolytic effects, neuroprotective activity, sweetness inhibition, anticancer activity, antimicrobial activity, antiulcer activity, antiinflammatory and antispastic effects, antiallergic activity, permeability enhancement activity, cognitive activities, antifertility property, hypotensive and antinephritic effects, cardiovascular activity, immunostimulant effects, antioxidant effects, and wound-healing activity. The lotus has various notable pharmacological activities such as antiischemic, antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, antiobesity, lipolytic, hypocholestermic, antipyretic, hepatoprotective, hypogylcemic, antidiarrheal, antifungal, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, and diuretic activities. Coix is a source of ornamental beads, a stable sustenance, and a productive fodder grass that is increasingly viewed as a potential energy source. Chinese medicine classifies the lily plant as bitter in taste, mild in nature, and beneficial to our hearts and lungs. The flowers are dried and used in cooking stews or soups. The healing properties of lily include moisturizing the lungs, relieving cough from lung dryness, clearing heart fire, and tranquilizing the mind. Dried lily bulbs are commonly used in herbal formulas for promoting lung health; treating yin deficiency of the heart. which manifests as irritability, insomnia, dreaminess, palpitations, and absent-mindedness; promoting vital fluids; and improving the complexion. The most important benefits of the Tremella mushroom are antiaging effects, antiinflammatory effects, decreasing cholesterol, combating obesity, and protecting the nerves, and it may fight cancer. The most powerful nutritional constituents of Tremella are amino acids, vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides, glucomannan 1,3-alpha-glucan, epitope 9beta-D-glucuronosyl, glucuronic acid, glucuronoxylomannan, N-acetylglucosamine, flavonoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, and organic acids. Functional foods are making inroads into Chinese diets with their promises to improve health and nutrition. Chinese consumers should choose nutritional and healthy food to maintain their general health and reduce the risk of health problems.
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The functional food industry has been developing rapidly in recent years. The most important pharmacological properties of jujube are anti-diabetic effects, hypnotic-sedative and anxiolytic effect, neuroprotective activity, sweetness inhibitor, anti-cancer activity, antimicrobial activity, anti-ulcer activity, an-ti-inflammatory and anti-spastic effect, anti-allergic activity, per-meability enhancement activity, cognitive activities, anti-fertility property, hypotensive and anti-nephritic effect, cardiovascular activity , immunostimulant effects, anti-oxidant effects, and wound healing activity. N. nucifera has various notable pharmacological activities such as anti-ischemic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, antivi-ral, antiobesity, lipolytic, hypocholestermic, antipyretic, hepato-protective, hypoglycaemic, antidiarrhoeal, antifungal, antibacte-rial, anti-inflammatory and diuretic activities. Coix is a source of ornamental beads, a stable sustenance, and a productive fodder grass increasingly viewed as a potential energy source. The healing properties of lily include moisturizing the lungs, relieving cough from lung-dryness, clears heart-fire and tranquilizes the mind. Dried lily bulbs are commonly used in herbal formulas for promoting lung health, treating yin-deficiency of the heart which manifests as irritability, insomnia, dreaminess, palpitation and absent-mindedness, and promotes vital fluid and improves skin complexion. The most important tremella mushroom benefits are anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, combat obesity, protect nerves and may fight cancer. Functional foods are making inroads into Chinese diets with their promises to improve health and nutrition. Chinese consumers should choose nutritional and healthy food to maintain general health and reduce the risk of health problems.
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This study aimed to analyze the decisions of farmers in the use of organic fertilizer and analyze the impact of the use of organic fertilizers on productivity and farm income. This study was conducted in Ngawi regency of East Java Province. A total of 88 farmers of paddy were used as respondents in this study. The logit regression and propensity score matching (PSM) were used to examine factors affecting farmers to adopt organic fertilizers and the impact of organic fertilizer on the productivity of rice farming. The results of the study showed field school, farmer ages, farmers 'education level and participation in farmer groups had a positive and significant influence on farmers' decisions to use organic fertilizer. Furthermore, the results of the PSM analysis show that farmers who use organic fertilizer obtain higher production than farmers who do not apply. This can be stated that the use of organic fertilizers is able to provide higher productivity and better agricultural sustainability.
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The functional food industry has been developing rapidly in recent years. The most important pharmacological properties of jujube are anti-diabetic effects, hypnotic-sedative and anxiolytic effect, neuroprotective activity, sweetness inhibitor, anti-cancer activity, antimicrobial activity, anti-ulcer activity, anti-inflammatory and anti-spastic effect, anti-allergic activity, permeability enhancement activity, cognitive activities, anti-fertility property, hypotensive and anti-nephritic effect, cardiovascular activity, immunostimulant effects, anti-oxidant effects, and wound healing activity. N. nucifera has various notable pharmacological activities such as anti-ischemic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral, antiobesity, lipolytic, hypocholestermic, antipyretic, hepatoprotective, hypogylcaemic, antidiarrhoeal, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and diuretic activities. Coix is a source of ornamental beads, a stable sustenance, and a productive fodder grass increasingly viewed as a potential energy source. The healing properties of lily include moisturizing the lungs, relieving cough from lung-dryness, clears heart-fire and tranquilizes the mind. Dried lily bulbs are commonly used in herbal formulas for promoting lung health, treating yin-deficiency of the heart which manifests as irritability, insomnia, dreaminess, palpitation and absent-mindedness, and promotes vital fluid and improves skin complexion. The most important tremella mushroom benefits are anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, combat obesity, protect nerves and may fight cancer. Functional foods are making inroads into Chinese diets with their promises to improve health and nutrition. Chinese consumers should choose nutritional and healthy food to maintain general health and reduce the risk of health problems.
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