WNPR

Is It Time to Take Chinese Medicine More Seriously?

Oct 28, 2015

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?

GUESTS:

  • David McCallum - Licensed Acupuncturist and practitioner of holistic healing methods at the Chi Healing Center in Canton, Connecticut. He's a graduate of Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China
  • Mary Guerrera - Professor of Family Medicine, Director, Integrative Medicine in Dept. of Family Medicine, UConn Medical School
  • Vitaly Napadow - Associate professor at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He's also President, Society for Acupuncture Research. 
  • Michael Kelly - Cancer survivor who has benefited from Chinese medicine
  • Elizabeth Curreri - Owner, Curreri Public Relations 

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.