This year's Nobel Prize went to three Chinese scientists. It was the first time China won a Nobel in science. The committee emphasized it was not giving the award to traditional Chinese medicine, just the scientist who applied her knowledge of it to her research.
While the award legitimates Chinese medicine in the eyes of some who have long believed in its benefits, others worry that the award dismisses the cultural heritage of Chinese medicine, instead rewarding the very narrow aspects of the work that satisfy a Western definition of what medicine should - and can be. It raises the question of how we judge the legitimacy of medicine.
Some people use Chinese medicine to alleviate chronic conditions that have not responded to mainstream medical treatment, such as pain. But it's not easy to prove effectiveness of these treatments, so many insurance policies won't cover it. Does the lack of research-based proof mean these treatments don't work or that we need a new way to measure success?
Hear SAR Board Co-President Vitaly Napadow in an NPR radio show about Chinese medicine:
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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.
M.Om., Dipl. Acu (NCCAOM) L.Ac.
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