Disclaimer: The following is made for informational and educational purposes only.  It is not intended to be medical advice nor an exhaustive list of specific treatment protocols.  The approach and perspective is only based upon the content contributor’s knowledge, research, or clinical experience. The content creators, authors, editors, reviewers, contributors, and publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or continued accuracy of the information or for any consequences in the form of liability, loss, injury, or damage incurred as a result of the use and application of any of the information, either directly or indirectly. Each remedy plan must be individually tailored with the guidance and clinical judgment of your medical or healthcare practitioner.

In this article, we’re going to cover:

Part Three

  1. Where To Find Research
  2. What If There Is No Research
  3. Conclusion

After Part 1 and Part 2, we now have a solid concept and fundamental idea of what science and research are, and how they are built upon our curiosity and discovery in order to uncover the unknown mechanisms. As a form of communication that is free of influences or manipulations, it is a process of long-term observation of a specific group.

Accordingly, most modern scientific research conclusions are based on the view of what works or doesn't work with certain methods on a specific group of people or dish at a particular time. Ultimately, scientific research itself never proves or disproves findings because data doesn’t speak for itself but it must be interpreted.


There are a variety of sources for gaining access to published research. Some sources provide free anopen source access to abstracts or full articles, but many require a fee or even a credential to download the whole piece.

While the abstracts are convenient in helping to search for articles that are relevant, they don’t often include important details that help review the study critically.

If the articles require a fee to access the full article, they can always be accessed for free through a member organization, such as a university, public library, advocacy organization. Check with your local library, university, or advocacy organization about the databases they subscribe to and their availability to the general public.

If you’re looking for the topics that are less being studied or funded within your local area, for example, cannabis was mostly researched in Israel and documented in ancient TCM records that most relative research wasn’t being funded in the US;

Or the Classical/Traditional Chinese Medicines are relative new outside of Asia and mostly researched as well as practiced in its origins;

The lack of research in North America is one of the reasons, however, it doesn't necessarily mean that there is a lack of research overall. Fortunately, our technology today allows us to connect to databases globally.

Here are a short list of places to start:
  • Google Scholar
    You can search all academic and scientific articles through Google Scholar. This, along with PubMed, is a great jumping-off point to find out what research is out there. Google will often provide the link to the abstracts and full articles. The downside of Google Scholar is that it casts its net pretty wide and does not provide the capability to filter through the results as PubMed so you will have to sift through things; however, it is another tool to help you get started.
  • PubMed
    PubMed is the most extensive database of medicinal-based research and is run by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. It is a collection of abstracts and a great starting point for your search for relevant research on herbs. It will also provide you with links to the full text.
  • CAM on PubMed
    CAM on PubMed is a sub-database that houses all research on complementary and alternative medicine. Essentially, it applies a filter to your PubMed searches so that it only accesses complementary and alternative medicine research.
  • Web of Science
    Web of Science is a scientific database run by Thomas Reuters. It is broader than PubMed and includes research from various scientific disciplines. Membership is required to access Web of Science. Most libraries and universities are members and it can be accessed for free from these institutions. Unlike PubMed, it does not allow you to search abstracts for free.
  • Science Direct
    This is another common database of scientific research, including medicine and herbs. While it is accessible from any computer and will allow you to search through abstracts, you will need to access it from a university or public library computer to have free access to full articles.
    This is the most common database of scientific and academic research used by universities and public libraries. It is broader than just medical research and must be accessed from a local university and library. It also provides access to other membership based databases, such as AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine Database) run by the British Library and AltHealthWatch.
  • Open Source
    Open Source databases are available for free to the public and accessible from your home computer. While it is tempting to rely on these because they are free, be aware that not all open source resources may be reputable, so do your research if you are searching from a database that is open source and not listed here.
  • American Botanical Council & HerbMed
    The American Botanical Council stays on top of the latest research that applies to western herbal medicine and through its HerbClip service offers summaries of this research. HerbMed is an online database of all herbal research run by the American Botanical Council. You can search for free and view abstracts but need to be an ABC member to access everything and even then you may not have access to full articles. It is another great tool to help you begin your search for what relevant research is available on any particular herb.
  • Chinese Medicine Development Fund
    It is a more comprehensive list of resources include the biggest ones in the world
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine Database
    This database is hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It contains information on more than four hundred types of commonly used Chinese medicinal herbs in Hong Kong or southern China.
  • Library of the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine, Ministry of Health and Welfare
    This library provides specialized information resources on Chinese medical science. The main purpose is to support researchers in the institute and provides archive, exhibition, education, and informative services in Chinese medical science. The collections include 1,500 category and 12,000 classic books of Chinese medicines, reference books, pharmacopeia, illustrations, dictionaries, and research in Chinese, English, and Japanese.
  • Autcollab
    Aut Collab (the Autistic Collaboration Trust) is a community that welcomes all individuals and groups who fully appreciate the value of neurodiversity. It’s a global network of collaborative Autistic peers, Autistic organisations, Autistic medical professionals, and NeuroDiVentures. You may also find useful resources for your research.


Photo : Denise Tuksar

Research on new science, herbal and plant medicines, and any traditional practices in some countries is relatively new and scarce compared to other kinds of medical research.

Therefore, it is very likely that you will not find any clinical research on a particular classical herbology, traditional medicine, or spiritual practice, especially in the western scientific settings. This is due to several factors, including research costs, cultural differences, religious restrictions, and legal limitations.

As an example, research on herbs tends to focus on a few factors: one, it is a well-known and widely-used herb (such as Echinacea); two, it has the potential to have a good return on investment and that research could lead to the creation of additional products; and three, the phytochemical makeup of the plant has been analyzed, and key phytochemicals have been identified. However, the importance of plant energetics, temperatures, and essential meanings to particular tribes or medical groups isn't being studied nor being acknowledged because they aren't seen as valuable to future development in modern days.

It is because of all of these factors that exotic herbs are often studied more than those that can be found in your backyard, so don't be surprised if you have trouble finding relevant clinical research for some of your favorite herbs.

If this is the case, search for the best available research, especially those from previous lineages or masters, even if it is not a clinical trial. In addition, it is important to explain to clients that although herbal medicines have been around for thousands of years, science has only recently begun to examine them from a scientific perspective, and most herbs do not have gold standard clinical trials.


Photo : Elia Pellegrini

"Research" is defined as "looking again" (Re-search). By gaining a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms, our support systems are better able to function as correlative scientific and medical models. This is not meant as a definitive conclusion or an absolute conclusion. By zooming out with a macroscopic lens, we see that the cosmos and living things are diverse, constantly evolving and in constant flux. No one certainty can be found as all things co-exist and interconnect collectively.

“We are one but not the same, we’re different but not divisive” - Gail Parker, PhD

Different lenses and multiple perspectives show us our differences, but they shouldn't be the cause or factor of failure; instead, they are part of and co-exist in our full pictures.

One of my TCM teachers, Arthur Lo, PhD, often reminds his students:

In English translation, “Never apply a 'dead' formulation or protocol to a living person.”

In other words, research and data based protocols are one of the most useful pieces of information and clues, but it also requires flexibility and adjustment depending on the particular events, causes, times, and situations.

One of the core elements of Classical Chinese Medicine has been the transmission of this wisdom over the centuries through different lineages or classical Chinese Medicine Students yet mostly abandoned by modern or modernized traditional practice, scientific research, or economical situations.

Remember that human beings are part of nature. And nature is never static, it’s dynamic and in a constant change.  It echoes part 1 on how we started : The unique biological makeup affects each of our wellbeing.  

Research & Resource
  1. Is Most Published Research Wrong?
  2. Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
  3. Getting Started in Interpreting Research: Methodological reflections, personal accounts, and advice for beginners by Gile, D., Dam, H., Dubslaff, F., Martinsen, B., Schjoldager, A. (Eds.)
  4. Challenges to Autism Research
  5. Errors of omission: Why we are deeply concerned about research on autism therapies
  6. Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature: A manual for evidence-based clinical practice by Guyatt, G., Rennie, D., Meade, M., Cook, D.
  7. Empirical Failures of the Claim That Autistic People Lack a Theory of Mind
  8. British Medical Journal’s Collection of articles on how to interpret research
  9. Interpreting clinical trial results: seven steps to understanding in Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, 123:5, by Elwood, J. M.
  10. List Of Scientific Research On Traditional Chinese Medicine
  11. High Quality Herbal Studies

Science + Technology

More from 

Science + Technology


View All