The Times of India reports that scientists of both countries are currently working to produce a common certification and common pharmacopoeia of qualitative standards for herbal drugs and nutraceuticals. They are also aiming to build a herbal trade route between the two nations.
Almost 20 different herbs with important medicinal properties have already been identified which can be made a part of this herbal trade package, according to the report. These include the herb swertis chirats, extensively used in Ayurveda for its hepato-protective action and immuno-modulators, and abundantly available in China, while an anti-malarial herb Andro Graphis is widely available in India.
The joint research will also help keep the costs of herbal medicines down. According to the Times, Ayurvedic medicines are slowly becoming out of reach of ordinary Indians but China has been relatively more successful in stabilising prices of these herbal products.
Chinese delegates attending a recent workshop on 'Quality control and standardisation of traditional medicine' in India also said that the success of Chinese herbal drugs was owed to stringent quality control. Modern practices like using chemical markers to check that all herbs collected from the wild have the desired compounds have been put into place.
The total nutrition products market in Asia during 2001 was estimated to be worth $37.4 billion. This is growing fast as the region contains China, the world's fastest-growing economy, and Japan, the world's second largest economy. The region also includes six of the world's most populous countries - China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan. East and Southeast Asia also have the fastest ageing populations in the world, with China and India together expected to have 370 million people aged over 65 by 2030.