For thousands of years, tonic herbs have been successfully used all around the world to improve health, energy, and vitality. However, their underlying mechanisms of action in molecular/systems levels are still a mystery. In this work, two sets of tonic herbs, so called Qi-enriching herbs (QEH) and Blood-tonifying herbs (BTH) in TCM, were selected to elucidate why they can restore proper balance and harmony inside body, organ and energy system. Firstly, a pattern recognition model based on artificial neural network and discriminant analysis for assessing the molecular difference between QEH and BTH was developed. It is indicated that QEH compounds have high lipophilicity while BTH compounds possess high chemical reactivity. Secondly, a systematic investigation integrating ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) prediction, target fishing and network analysis was performed and validated on these herbs to obtain the compound-target associations for reconstructing the biologically-meaningful networks. The results suggest QEH enhance physical strength, immune system and normal well-being, acting as adjuvant therapy for chronic disorders while BTH stimulate hematopoiesis function in body. As an emerging approach, the systems pharmacology model might facilitate to understand the mechanisms of action of the tonic herbs, which brings about new development for complementary and alternative medicine. © 2013 Jianling Liu et al.
Liu, J., Pei, M., Zheng, C., Li, Y., Wang, Y., Lu, A., & Yang, L. (2013). A systems-pharmacology analysis of herbal medicines used in health improvement treatment: Predicting potential new drugs and targets. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/938764