Cue from China


From herbal cures to acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine is accepted by the Western world as an alternative form of treatment. Even in cancer research scientists have finally understood the workings of a drug discovered by Chinese medicine decades ago. Extracted from a rare wild parasitic mushroom called Cordyceps militaris, the drug, cordycepin, aroused the interest of scientists as early as 1950 but owing to technical difficulties it could not be studied much. Scientists now say it works in two ways: at low doses it stops uncontrollable growth of cancerous cells. At high doses it prevents cells from sticking to each other.


Down To Earth, January 2010