This is how you show the value of traditional medicine.
Science and Traditional medicines to not have to be exclusive to one another.
Answering an Appeal by Mao Led Tu Youyou, a Chinese Scientist, to a Nobel Prize
By JANE PERLEZOCT. 6, 2015
BEIJING — During the upheaval of China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, when many of the country’s Western-trained scientists were shunned and persecuted, the government had an urgent scientific problem that needed attention.
North Vietnam, an important ally that was in the middle of war with the United States, had asked for a way to reduce the deaths of its soldiers from malaria, which had become resistant to the drug chloroquine. Malaria was also killing large numbers of people in southern China.
Mao Zedong set up a secret military project, Project 523 — named after its starting date, May 23, 1967 — to find a solution. But China’s top expert in the field of malaria research, like legions of other Chinese in this time of high political turmoil, had been labeled a “rightist” and shunted aside.
After making little headway on the problem, the government turned to the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, and to a little-known scientist, Tu Youyou, who had studied both Western and Chinese medicine — and who found the solution in traditional Chinese healing.
Dr. Tu, 84, on Monday became the first citizen of the People’s Republic of China to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, for discovering artemisinin, a drug that is now part of standard antimalarial regimens. She shared the Nobel for medicine or physiology with two scientists who also developed antiparasitic drugs.
Dr. Tu, through the Institute of Chinese Materia Medica at the Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences where she works, issued a statement about the value of artemisinin and traditional Chinese medicine.
She visited traditional medical practitioners across China, and from those conversations, compiled a notebook, “A Collection of Single Practical Prescriptions for Anti-Malaria.” Among 2,000 traditional Chinese recipes, she said, one compound was found to be effective: sweet wormwood, or Artemisia annua, which was used for “intermittent fevers,” a hallmark of malaria.
In the interview, Dr. Tu told New Scientist that she reread a particular recipe, written more than 1,600 years ago in a text titled “Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One’s Sleeve.” The directions were to soak one bunch of wormwood in water and then drink the juice.
But Dr. Tu said she realized that her method of preparation — boiling the wormwood — probably damaged the active ingredient. So she made another preparation using an ether-based solvent, which boils at 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When tested on mice and monkeys, she said, it proved 100 percent effective.
After the successful animal tests, Dr. Tu volunteered to be the first human subject, along with two colleagues. Satisfied that she had suffered no ill effects, she conducted clinical trials with patients.
“We had just cured drug-resistant malaria,” Dr. Tu told New Scientist. “We were very excited.”
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