artemisia nobel prize

The Chinese Herb For Malaria and Nobel Prize Winner

Re-published June 2023 because it seems malaria is now a problem in the U.S. as well.  Enjoy.


Congratulations go out to Professor Tu for her 1972 discovery in processing the Chinese herb Artemisia (Qing Hao) now recognized with a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Chinese herbs win Nobel prizeHer work at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, China has saved thousands from malaria deaths in the last forty plus years.

Before Professor Tu studied an ancient Chinese text regarding the cooking of the root artemisia, the herb was not successful at curing malaria patients.  Maybe she read about the prominent physician and alchemist named Ge Hong (284-364 CE) who wrote a formulary called Zhou Hou Bei Zhi Fang (Prescriptions within Arm”s Reach for Use in Emergencies). Many of the formulas in that book are still in use today. He was the first to mention qing hao, (Artemisia Annua) as a treatment for malaria. Professor Tu’s cooking discovery led to chemical constituents in artemisia to be viable and produce a therapeutic effect against deadly malaria. Quercetin has since been identified as the most therapeutic constituent but there are over 30 chemical constituents in the roots of artemisia. (See below)

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Chinese Herb Breakthrough Wins Prestigious Award

The award known as American Nobel Prize was presented last Saturday to an 81 year old researcher for her work on a Chinese herb called Artemisia.  Tu Youyou is the first Chinese citizen to receive the prestigious Lasker Medical Research Award.  Her work, along with her research team, has studied the Chinese herb Artemisia (qing hao) which is used to cure malaria.  Today the artemisia based drug created by Tu and her colleagues  is now a standard treatment for malaria and statistics show it's success rate is 97 percent.  

"I think the honor not only belongs to me, but also to all Chinese scientists," Tu said at the award ceremony held in New York. "The discovery of artemisinin is a gift to mankind from traditional Chinese medicine," Tu was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

"Not often in the history of clinical medicine can we celebrate a discovery that has eased the pain and distress of hundreds of millions of people and saved the lives of countless numbers of people, particularly children, in over 100 countries," Lucy Shapiro, a member of the award jury and professor of Stanford University, said while describing Tu's discovery.

This is very exciting news for Traditional Chinese Medicine. If we learn as a society to embrace the longstanding traditions and wisdom which botanical or herbal medicine hold, we will have the answers to many of the diseases of the 21st century.  We can improve the quality of our life and our lifespan using the knowledge of herbal medicine pasted down for centuries.   More research like that being done by Tu and her team could mean less lines for the unsustainable ER services and huge savings.  As a society we need to learn about Chinese herbs and how we can use them to create American traditions of "Wellness for Centuries".

For more information on Malaria and Artemisia read this post.