Traditional Chinese Medicine recognized by 2015 Nobel Prize
I just found some exciting news! Chinese Medicine figured prominently in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine. Tu Youyou from the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Beijing) shared one-half of the prize "for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria" using the Chinese herb qing hao (Artemisia annua). A little background: modern medicine in the 20th-century used chloroquine or quinine to treat malaria, but by the 1970s, parasite resistance to the drugs caused an increase in the incidence of malaria. Dr Tu set out to find something "new" in the Chinese Materia Medica (Qing hao has been used for thousands of years in China). She was able to extract what came to be called Artemisinin with the guidance from the instructions in A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, written in 340B.C.
As an acupuncturist, I'm always happy to hear Chinese Medicine get credit for the excellent things it can do to help people. As an anthropologist, I want to highlight the fact that part of her discovery involved reading the ancient texts to provide clues to the herb's use and extraction. To get full benefit of medicinal substances and health enhancing techniques from other medical systems, we cannot ignore the context in which we use them.
Photo: "Artemisia annua" by Jorge Ferreira - Original work by Jorge Ferreira. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Artemisia_annua.jpg#/media/File:Artemisia_annua.jpg