Indian imaginaries of Chinese success in the global herbal medicine market: A critical assessment

Chithprabha Kudlu, Mark Nichter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


India's share in the global herbal market is dwarfed by that of China. Public and policy discourse in India exhorts Ayurvedic stakeholders to emulate Chinese medicine's "science-based approach" to expand their global market share. But contrary to popular perception in India, China has been largely unsuccessful in making inroads into the coveted Euro-American herbal medicine market. Chinese medicine's global footprint is largely the result of historical-cultural links, diasporic influences, and acupuncture practitioners. With national traditional medicine policies increasingly shaped by the evidence-based regulatory paradigm, the future of these informal bottom-up pathways is uncertain. Ignoring the roots of Chinese medicine's global career has led to a distorted image of its "success" as an outcome of state investment in scientific validation and standardization programs. Our findings underscore the need to critically examine the imaginaries of success that drive stakeholders of non-biomedical traditions toward scientization to earn legitimacy and profits in the global realm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-144
Number of pages41
JournalAsian Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Ayurveda
  • Chinese medicine
  • Globalization
  • Indian medicine policy
  • evidence-based medicine
  • herbal medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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