As I mentioned in my recent post on What's New in 2016, I plan to share more yoga and wellness related content on the blog in the coming year. I completed my 200 hr yoga teacher training last spring, and it has introduced me to a lot of interesting new people and ideas that I want to share with you. While I learned a lot about the history and practice of yoga during my training, it was also a gateway into the broader topics of Eastern medicine and philosophy. Even though I am half-Chinese, I grew up in America, and learned very little about Chinese history and culture in school. I've been exploring these topics more lately, and have been learning all kinds of cool stuff - like the story of YouYou Tu, an 84-year old scientist, and the first Chinese woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. When I read the incredible story about how she, along with a team of researchers, developed a treatment for malaria by consulting an ancient Chinese text, I was pretty impressed! Keep reading to learn more about this amazing discovery:
WHO IS YOUYOU TU
YouYou Tu is one of the 2015 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Born in China in 1930, she studied pharmacology in Beijing, and went on to become a researcher at the Academy of Chinese Traditional Medicine.
In the 1960's, she was tasked with finding a new treatment for malaria, which had grown resistant to existing drugs, and was killing millions of people worldwide. In the search for a new anti-malarial drug, thousands of compounds had been tested with no success. So YouYou and her team began screening traditional Chinese herbs for anti-malarial compounds. They turned to ancient Chinese texts for clues, and found sweet wormwood listed as a treatment for malaria. The team was able to identify an active compound, artemisinin, which proved to be effective in the fight against malaria, and has saved millions of lives over the past several decades.
Why It Matters
YouYou's discoveries highlight China's rich history of medical knowledge. Traditional Chinese Medicine is often dismissed by many Western doctors, but I think there is a lot to be learned here. We are only beginning to incorporate these ideas into modern medicine, and I'm excited about all the possibilities for the future.