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— updated 2017-11-02

Herbalist Review, Issue 2017 #1:   Unlocking the wisdom of traditional Chinese herbal medicine with artificial intelligence

by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.

This newsletter briefly summarizes several major milestones at RMHI during the previous year.

If you have ever had an interest in studying Chinese herbal medicine, but gave up for lack of time or money or for thinking it would be too difficult, please study this newsletter issue carefully. I will explain how several pioneering breakthroughs in educational technology and artificial intelligence that we at RMHI have developed over the past 25 years are poised to revolutionize traditional Chinese medicine.

Subtopics on this page…

Copyright ©2017 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved.


AutoSage-TCM expert system

Developed at RMHI over a 25-year period, AutoSage-TCM is expert-system software ("artificial intelligence") for automated pattern recognition of the clinical syndromes constituting traditional Chinese medical (TCM) pathophysiology theory, including quantitative assessment of complex cases characterized by multiple simultaneous syndrome-patterns. I periodically search the scientific research literature for the latest developments in TCM expert systems, and, to the best of my knowledge, AutoSage-TCM is the only expert system capable of accurately analyzing the general health profile for clinical cases of multiple simultaneous syndrome-patterns. The vast majority of previous TCM expert systems have either been limited to specific medical disease categories or to identifying only a single predominant syndrome-pattern. Complex cases have become increasingly common over the past few decades due to the rapid proliferation of toxic dietary and consumer chemicals, contaminated vaccines, toxic and abusive medical procedures, and environmental pollution.

The AutoSage-TCM expert system for TCM symptom-pattern analysis has been up and running now for over a year. After over a dozen revisions based on user feedback, it has now been thoroughly tested and fully integrated into our curriculum.

In spring of 2017, we submitted this project as an entry to the international Herbal Medicine Awareness Competition sponsored by the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. This summer, we were surprised and pleased to learn that we had been awarded Honorable Mention (5th place) in this competition — surprised, because of RMHI's history of outspoken and blunt exposés of the sad state of American health care, including the education and practice of many alternative health modalities. Apparently even mainstream medical schools are acknowledging that American healthcare needs serious reform.

What this means for the future of healthcare:

  • The insights of traditional Chinese medicine will no longer be restricted only to practitioners who have studied for many years.
  • Anyone who is capable of taking an accurate and thorough case history (symptoms, tongue appearance, pulse qualities) can immediately access detailed, quantitative TCM syndrome-pattern analyses.
  • TCM clinical research now has no excuse for not incorporating proper protocols for individualized treatment plans in double-blind, controlled clinical studies. (This has formerly been a major bottleneck in the scientific study of traditional herbal protocols.)
 

Herbalists' BootCamp

Our initial release of AutoSage-TCM was too ambitious. We released the software with detailed instructions that the vast majority of early testers did not have the patience to read, and few users actually reached a stage of being able to use the system effectively. Consequently, it became clear that we needed to create a series of basic tutorials that guided users step-by-step through the entire process of installing the HerbalThink-TCM software package and illustrating the use of important features in each module.

We have christened the new tutorial series "Herbalists' BootCamp" for the following reasons:

  • Though straightforward, it demands self-discipline and persistence of participants.
  • Like conventional bootcamp, it is intended to ensure that graduates demonstrate that they know how to perform essential tasks without error.
  • These essential tasks, if performed correctly, allow one to avoid serious clinical errors and to steadily work toward effective solutions.
  • Intense and highly focused, it can be completed in less than 48 hours.

Over the past year, we have repeatedly demonstrated that people with a wide range of backgrounds can successfully complete BootCamp. Participants' formal education is irrelevant; some of our best students and graduates include homeschooled young people who have not attended college.

Successful completion of Herbalists' BootCamp is now required for all applicants to:

To apply for enrollment in Herbalists' BootCamp and to get started with the tutorial series, complete Tutorial #1.

BootCamp is currently free of charge to qualified applicants, though we may eventually charge a small fee for enrollment in the future. Enrollment includes access to a limited 'Test' version of the HerbalThink-TCM software and a complete textbook on the theory and use of AutoSage-TCM.

 

RMHInet brainstorming network — recruiting group leaders

Numerous academic studies of crowdsourcing reveals that groups that include ordinary people possess extraordinary and formerly unrecognized ability to solve even complex problems — like medical diagnosis. The keys to making such groups work are to:

  • Recruit members from a broad range of backgrounds and talents, from lay people interested in improving their own health to professionals.
  • Create membership requirements that include minimum criteria for ability, skills, and commitment.
  • Provide members with appropriate technology and tools for accessing, organizing, and communicating relevant information.

RMHInet is a brainstorming network focused on health, wellness, and longevity sponsored by RMHI. Beginner membership in RMHInet is free; the primary membership requirement is that you have successfully completed Herbalists' BootCamp. We are now specifically recruiting members who are interested in becoming local Group Leaders.

  • Do you have patience and empathy in listening to people and accurately reporting what they said? — absolutely crucial for taking an accurate and thorough health history
  • Are you good at explaining instructions, facts, and ideas to others and ensuring that they understand?
  • Do you have a good grasp of reason, logic, and the art of the argument/debate?
  • Are you skilled at using basic computer software? — the vast majority of RMHI's course material is provided as a software package comprising text references, databases, interactive games, video simulations, and expert-system modules.
  • Are you careful about following written instructions?
  • Do you enjoy reading books, news, and articles about health?

If you answered yes to most of the preceding questions, we hope you will consider becoming an authorized Group Leader. By serving as a local Group Leader, you will be providing a means for RMHI to effectively reach into communities worldwide.

We are seeking individuals and entrepreneurs interested in starting their own businesses by providing crucial educational services that the current healthcare system frequently fails to provide. The preceding subsection has been recently added to the RMHInet description page, so if you have already read about RMHInet, be sure to check out this last section of the article.

 

Misc. references

Food for thought...

  • "This is where we are going" In webpage at: https://seeker401.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/this-is-where-we-are-going/;   2017 Nov 02.
    "Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
    ...Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.
    ...Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?"
  • "Artificial Intelligence is on the precipice of revolutionizing medical diagnosis." In webpage at: https://latest.13d.com/artificial-intelligence-is-on-the-precipice-of-revolutionizing-medical-diagnosis-be6427239f58;   2017 Apr 14.
    "Last week, researchers at the Mayo clinic revealed a frightening statistic: 88% of the time, original diagnoses are revised upon evaluation by a second medical professional. This comes on the heels of a 2015 revelation by the National Academies of Medicine that diagnostic errors lead to up to 10% of all patient deaths, and up to 17% of all hospital complications. Despite generations of advances in disease understanding and testing technologies, diagnosis remains an art as much as a science, prone to imprecision, if not life-threatening error."