Monday, April 18, 2016

The Epic Odyssey of Dr. Shi-hua Wu of China



This story begins in the northern provinces of China where life was a cruel experience in survival.  Dr. Wu was born in a tiny farming area outside the town of Jingyuan in the province of Gansu.  It is where his story begins and then we follow him to the bustling cities of Xi'an, then Beijing where millions of people live.

It was the 1950's as he pursued his medical education in the capital of Communism in the midst of heightened Cold War tensions.  Suddenly his journey leaps across the ocean and lands in the metropolis of Chicago in the heartland of America before finally winding up in the capital of the nation, WashingtonD.C.

It is a long, hard journey of nearly 80 years yet to this day Dr. Wu can still be found walking over three miles to the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. every morning between 7:30 and 8:30 am.  Then again, he may be walking in the far reaches of the frontier of rural China where he provides precious medical treatment to the villagers, which he does several weeks every year.

Before completing the first part of his goal of mastering TCM, he earned the reputation of being a gifted man who studied under some of the greatest Chinese TCM Masters of the 20th century.  His teachers and mentors included Masters like Professor Mi Bo Rang, Professor Chen Keji, Professor Zhou Aixiang, Professor Qian Boxuan, Professor Fang Yao-Zhong, and Professor Lu Daopei.

Li Shizhen, Father of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Soon invited to America to work with pioneering doctors and scientists in the study of cancer, he quickly establishes himself as an expert researcher in the world of high tech Western medicine.  He contributes major breakthroughs in molecular biology research and soon the student becomes the teacher and hundreds and hundreds of students in both nations will get to work with the Chinese Master Dr. Wu.

Dr. Wu and Chairman Lin Jun, All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese
After extensive education, experience at some of the best medical facilities in China and America, and research in famous laboratories, one might think it was time to rest but not Dr. Wu.  He went on to earn appointments to most major efforts in the world in the People's Republic of China, the United States, and the United Nations to bring together the greatest contributions in both Eastern and Western medicine.

This effort could result in the best and most thorough preventive health care practices and medical treatment in the world.  Dr. Wu is on many committees, associations, and organizations sharing his goal of bringing together people and improving the quality of life for everyone by combining Eastern and Western medicine.

The Early Years

Dr. Wu was born in Gansu Province in the rural area outside Jingyuan, a town of about 160,000 people in Northern China.  His birth was December 25, 1935 according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.  Today Jingyuan has grown to about 450,000 people but the surrounding area remains primarily an agricultural region with some of the harshest climate conditions in China.  All of his siblings remain involved in farming in the region.

Far removed from the bustling population centers of Eastern China, Jingyuan was a very poor area and deadly droughts were common when Dr. Wu was a young boy.  During droughts, the farmers had to walk to the Yellow River 25 miles away with their donkeys carrying large water jars to get water, a grueling trip that took one day each way.  This trip took place every week.

Eighty years ago the water of the Yellow River was far too polluted to drink but was used only for washing and cooking where it could be boiled before being consumed.  The only source of good water was from the rains.

Often the weight of the water urns when filled with water for the return trip would cause the donkeys to fall down exhausted further delaying the water.

One small bowl of water a day was available for the entire family to use to wash their face and hands.  Dr. Wu did not wash his face in order for his family to have a precious few more drops to use.

When he was born, China was going through tremendous changes. Thousands of years of powerful dynasties ended in 1912 resulting in the formation of China's first Republic in history.  However, the first Republic was more interested in copying Western cultures than preserving their own ancient culture.  Tensions grew between Nationalists and Communists trying to take control of the Chinese Republic.

In 1937, Japan attacked China and for the next decade, China was embroiled in external wars as the internal fighting for control of China's future continued.  World War II broke out and the Republic of China was to suffer over 20 million deaths, the second highest number of World War II deaths behind the Soviet Union.

With the help of the United States China was able to avoid falling to the Japanese throughout the war because both the Chinese Nationalists and Communists fought the Japanese.  Finally, after the end of World War II in 1945, the internal conflict intensified and by 1948, the civil war broke out.  By 1949, the Communists had seized control of the nation and it became the People's Republic of China.

Dr. Wu grew up as one of six children of a poor farming family and was the eldest son with two brothers and three sisters.  His father wanted him to continue the family farming tradition.

Parents of Dr. Wu
His father, one of seven children who all grew up to be farmers, expected Dr. Wu and his siblings to follow in his footsteps.  His father's brother, Dr Wu's uncle, also insisted the eldest son and all the children must continue the family tradition and become farmers.

The First Family Member to attend School

However, his paternal grandmother had other ideas so she took charge of his upbringing intent on making him the first family member to go to school and the first to leave farming and achieve a professional career.  She intended to protect her grandson from the wishes of his father and uncle.

It was the first major turning point in his life.  Without her support and faith in him, he would have become a farmer like the previous generations of his family and like all his brothers and sisters.  His grandmother took charge of his education.

Dr. Wu meets Chinese political leaders
She had observed his early traits and recognized he loved to study very much and she sent him to Primary school at age six.  To make sure her grandson could continue his education she had him sleep at her place.  The government provided free public education to all who wanted it though few children from poor, rural areas went to school.

Dr. Wu was the top student in his class academically and demonstrated leadership throughout all seven years of Primary school.  During that time his interests changed from wanting to be a social worker, to a teacher, and then to a principal of a school.

Three generations of Wu family honor Dr. Wu in China
Wu would spend the next three years, 1953-56 in Middle school but he needed financial support because the nearest Middle school was in the provincial capital of Lanzhou, a three day walk each way from Dr Wu's village.  This would be his preparation for a professional career and the most popular career at the time was engineering.

In Middle school, the entire curriculum taught a single profession in order to waste no time in preparing students for the professional world.  Thus, there were separate schools for teachers, for engineers and for health careers.  Dr. Wu was intent on becoming an engineer and working his way into a high-level position.

High school classmates of Dr. Wu
He and four school mates who attended Middle school lived in the same area and they would make the three day walk together to be safe on the long journey.  When he first arrived at the Middle school, the government stopped admitting students to the engineering school because there were enough engineering students already in school to meet the future needs of the country.

It was the beginning of a very difficult week for Dr. Wu failing to get into engineering school and having no money for a hotel.  His only choice was to attend high school, also in Lanzhou, but it would be a three-month wait before the next term began and Dr. Wu had no money to stay.

Dr. Wu Chooses to Attend Medical School

It was during that first week he accidentally came across one of his former Primary school teachers, Li Gmanj Too, from his village who had moved to Lanzhou to teach in Middle school.  His friend was now teaching in the Health School and told him to enroll in the high school and then go to Professional Health School because there would be positions as a doctor in the countryside and in hospitals in the towns where they would need help.

Graduated from Health School in Lanzhou
The advice was a major turning point in the career of Dr. Wu.  For the first time he considered a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine thanks to the unexpected advice from his former teacher.  At the time, Dr. Wu was facing many difficulties and his accidental encounter opened the door to a new career that would change his life and stimulate his passion to help people for the rest of his life.

It was the same time Mao Zedong, founding father of the People's Republic of China, reinstated Traditional Chinese Medicine as a professional career.  The new government provided financial support to those students enrolling in TCM but few of the top high school graduates were accepted.

When Dr. Wu decided to become a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 1950's his goal was to bring medical help to the rural provinces and regions of China by helping to restore the ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as introducing the modern Western medical knowledge and techniques that could help his people and his country.

Dr. Wu doing Chinese six point pulse reading
To achieve this required a commitment to decades of work in order to master the various elements of TCM including herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise and dietary therapy, all of which he combines in his practice.  It also required years of study in Western medicine in order to combine the two disciplines.

Dr. Wu agreed to pursue the medical field knowing the competition in China would be tremendous.  So once again, he made the long walk back home and three months later repeated his walk back to Lanzhou for high school.  Just like Middle school, the government paid for everything.

He was one of 280 students in his class and at the end of the three years of high school only 27 of the 280 qualified to take the test for admission to medical school, which recruited only the top students from a number of surrounding provinces.  Just 17 of the 27 achieved the test score necessary for admission into medical school.  Dr. Wu was at the top of the list.

Professional Medical Education

In 1956 Dr Wu entered a four year medical program and by the end of the 2nd year was number 1 in his class of 100 students and was told he could skip the last two years because of his excellent academic record, but Wu wanted to absorb all of the education possible so he completed all 4 years.

But that was just the beginning of his work because by now he dedicated his life to bringing together the medical knowledge of Eastern medicine ( TCM) with the high technology of Western medicine and use both in concert to provide the patient with the best medical practices the world has to offer.

With first Chinese American, Gary Locke, to be elected Governor of Washington 
This was quite ambitious for a young man from Jingyuan, a very poor area in Gansu Province in rural Northern China.  As Dr. Wu pursued his lifelong goal of bringing both ancient and modern medicine to the far rural reaches of China, his journey would lead him to Xi'an, one of the four ancient capitols of China, to Beijing, and then across the ocean to Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. in the United States.

After his initial training at Lanzhou Professional Health School from 1953-1956 he then attended a five-year C.M.D. program, combining Western medicine and TCM studies, at Xi'an Medical University from 1956-1961.

Upon graduation he was selected to undertake further TCM training at the University from 1961-1966 as an apprentice to Professor Mi Bo Rang, one of China's foremost senior TCM Master Physicians.

When Professor Mi transferred to the Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese Materia Medica, located in Xi'an, Dr. Wu accompanied him as a protégé and assumed directorship of the academy's Clinical Research Division for the treatment of Leukemia and Tumors with Traditional Herbal Medicine.  In this capacity, Dr. Wu studied oncological applications of TCM from 1968 to 1971.

Some of the many students receiving Dr. Wu scholarships
Later in 1971, Dr. Wu began a period of postgraduate work in Beijing.  While training at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, he earned a C.M.D. degree in 1973.  He enjoyed the privilege of working directly with such renowned TCM Masters as Professor Chen Keji, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Professor Zhou Aixiang, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine; Professor Qian Boxuan, a gifted TCM gynecologist; and Professor Fang Yao-Zhong, an expert on various difficult and complicated diseases.

Following that from 1973-1974 Dr. Wu pursued further postgraduate training at the Institute of Hematology affiliated with the People's Hospital of Beijing Medical University.  He focused on the use of TCM in treating leukemia and lymphoma, with direction from Professor Lu Daopei, an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Professional Medical Experience

Throughout his career, Dr. Wu has maintained a continuous professional association with Xi'an Medical University.  Immediately upon graduation from its School of Medicine in 1961, he began practicing at the university's Second Teaching Hospital and teaching Western Medicine and TCM in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine.

Additional Dr. Wu scholarship students
Dr. Wu holds the rank of Professor and Chief Physician in these departments.  He has also served as a clinician and instructor in the university's provincial outreach programs at Han Zhong from 1965-1967 and Wu Gong from 1974-1976.  To this day, he has continued to make annual trips to rural China to participate in the provincial outreach program providing life-saving treatment to those far removed from medical facilities and doctors.

Research Experience

Being a student, an apprentice, a protégé, and a teacher was not enough for this young Dr. Wu, from his earliest years in medical school he also had a passion for research in order to demonstrate new ways to use TCM to heal.

As a student, he worked on a promising exploration of acupuncture treatments to overcome deaf-mutism, which became his first published article in 1959.  Since then he has recorded his clinical experiences and research findings in four book-length monographs and over seventy articles and reports on a vast range of subjects.

Teachers from health school
These include many studies of leukemia and other topics in hematology, as well as a series of reports on tropical diseases based on his observations as a member of the Chinese government-sponsored medical team in southern Sudan from September 1979 to October 1981.  Most recent writings have concerned TCM treatment for such diverse problems as coronary heart disease, facial paralysis, soft tissue trauma and reproductive problems.

Dr. Wu's research ultimately brought him to the United States where he has been involved in four major studies.

Dr. Wu addresses Jinj High School students in China
From 1986 to 1990, he served as Visiting Professor of Medicine and Visiting Research Associate at the University of Chicago Medical School Cancer Center and Hematology Oncology Division, specializing in scanning electron microscopy research on hairy cell leukemia under the direction of Harvey M. Colomb, M.D., and Haim Gamliel, Ph.D.

In 1990 Dr. Wu accepted a post as Visiting Research Associate at the renowned Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York where he remained through 1991.  At Sloan-Kettering, with oversight from Zvi Fuks, M.D. and Adriana Haimovitz - Friedman, Ph.D., Dr. Wu investigated the mechanism by which fibroblast growth factor aided in the repair of radiation damage in endothelial cells.

More Dr. Wu scholarship studens
From 1991 to 1992, Dr. Wu served as Visiting Research Associate at Howard University Hospital, where he worked in the Washington, D.C. area with Pauline Ting, M.D., Ph.D. on inquiries in molecular biology focusing on opiate receptor subtypes, peptide assays, and neurohistopathology - immunohistochemistry.

From 1992 to 1994, Dr. Wu was Principal Investigator in the characterization and immunostudy of a new hairy cell leukemia cell line, conducted at C.P. Li Biomedical Research Corporation of Arlington, Virginia in collaboration with George Mason University under a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

When Dr. Wu first arrived in WashingtonD.C., he opened a clinic in the basement of his home, a modest townhouse on Sixth Street near P Street in Chinatown.  Soon after he realized he needed a more desirable location and moved to the heart of Chinatown at his present location near the National Gallery, Verizon Center, and Chinatown Metro station.

Dr. Wu and wife prepare herbal tea
For the past twenty years, Dr. Wu has continued his work as a TCM physician and instructor at his clinic in Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and at clinics in the metropolitan area.  In his private practice, he serves a varied caseload and clientele of top government, military, corporate, and non-profit people in the pressure-laden environment of the nation's capital.

Many medical professionals refer cases to Dr. Wu because of his extraordinary success and his ability to combine techniques from the Eastern and Western medical fields.

He continues in directing an apprenticeship program for advanced TCM students, which is equivalent to the TCM Doctorate program in China.  He also belongs to a multitude of local, state, national, and international organizations dedicated to bringing Eastern and Western medicine together to help all people.

Memberships and Honors

Dr. Wu is a member of many medical societies in the United States and China.  In America his memberships include the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research and American Acupuncture Association and its Academic Research Committee.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing with Dr. Wu
In China, he is a member of the Chinese Medical Association, Society of Hematology, Society of Oncology, Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Society of Integration of Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Dr. Wu and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi

Throughout his career, Dr. Wu has received many honors, prizes, awards, and distinctions granted by Xi'an Medical University, the Shaanxi Provincial Government, and the Chinese Ministry of Public Health.

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and China President Xí Jìnpíng 

He has been Honorary President of the Society of Sun Si-Miao, a prestigious organization dedicated to the legacy of the great Tang dynasty herbologist.  Dr. Wu is a member of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese.

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and USA President Barack Obama

Dr. Wu became Honorary Professor at the Hematology Institute of Lanzhou Professional School.

The next year, 1996, Dr. Wu was one of the "Hundred Stars of Folk Medicine" at the Third Conference of World Traditional Medicine.

Dr. Wu with 100 year old Korean at XI World TCM Conference
In 1997, Xi'an Medical University established a scholarship in Dr. Wu's name and conferred on him the title of Special Consultant to the Institute of Integration of Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Dr. Wu at TCM Conference St. Petersburg
President Bill Clinton honored Dr. Wu during an Asian-American Month ceremony in WashingtonD.C. in 1996 and by the President of the People's Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, during his White House visit in 1997.

Humble Humanitarian

Dr. Wu tends to ignore all the adulation and praise people have for him though the full impact of his influence on American medical care is obvious by his ever-increasing popularity.  His name is a household word in the TCM international community and in the nation's capitol as someone who combines the best of TCM and Western medicine to get results, even in the most hopeless and desperate of situations.

Patients include top ranking federal officials, Navy Seals, cabinet members, doctors, sports figures, and people from all occupations.  Yet there is a very humanitarian side to Dr. Wu as well.  Often he provides medical care regardless of whether the patient can pay.  During Chinese Culture festivals, he provides free herbal consultations for all who are interested or need help.  Every year Dr. Wu returns to China and travels to the Provinces to provide free TCM treatment to the villagers.

Media Attention

Dr. Wu has been the subject of feature stories in numerous newspapers and magazines including The Washington PostUSA Today and the Washingtonian Magazine. The Georgetowner Newspaper, a business journal from an exclusive area of Washington, D.C., endorsed him in their list of top businesses and professionals.  Numerous Chinese language papers have also written many features about Dr. Wu.

Dr. Wu in Red Square Moscow
Dr. Wu is also a frequent guest on radio and television shows about Traditional Chinese Medicine and alternative health treatment.  As noted before he serves on local, state, national and international organizations dedicated to bringing together Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine.

St. Petersburg, Russia 2014
Dr. Wu's Legacy

So now, the man from rural China has worked with the Masters of TCM, with world-renowned researchers in molecular biology and with the greatest medical minds in America working to solve leukemia and hematology issues.  In addition, yes, the young man from Gansu Province has even walked with Ambassadors and Presidents of the People's Republic of China and the United States of America.

With Chinese President Jiang Zemin at Chinese Embassy
Stature comes from the contributions one makes for the good of all humankind.  Such is the case with Dr. Wu, a diminutive 79-80 year old Chinese national who has spent nearly 60 years building many bridges that have and will benefit humankind in many ways long into the future.

He has worked a lifetime to bring ancient Eastern and modern Western medicine together so people could benefit from the accomplishments in the medical world for the last 5,000 years.

XI World Congress of Chinese Traditional Medicine, St. Petersburg, 2014
Well into his 6th decade of devoted service to the people of China and 3 decades serving the people of the United States, Dr. Wu has achieved an outstanding reputation for excellence in medical care.  With insight and determination, he has built on the work of many distinguished Masters who were his mentors and the result is his comprehensively informed and uniquely effective treatment style and often-astonishing results.

Leukemia patient healed by Dr. Wu
His files are filled with testimonials, notes and reports from patients who were told modern medicine could do nothing more to help them.  Many times the prognosis was terminal.  However, failure is not acceptable to Dr. Wu and at times, the patient and even their doctor acknowledged his treatment saved their life, significantly improved their quality of life, or gave them the ability to create life, when told they could never conceive.

On occasion, such letters even reference his treatment as "miraculous."  Perhaps Maurice Aonzo Allen, M.D. said it best when he wrote an essay about Dr. Wu.  He described him as "A Modern American Hero."  In his essay, he described how the WashingtonD.C. area has the greatest concentration of healthcare delivery, education, administration, and research in the history of the world.

Couple with child thanks to Dr. Wu
People come from all over the world for his treatment of cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, and chronic diseases relating to aging.  When Dr. Wu came to WashingtonD.C., treatment of these diseases was generally manageable, but still incurable.  Such was the state of the art of American medical practice existing when Dr. Shi Hua Wu set up practice in his basement in Chinatown.

Herbal medicine was generally unknown in America, and generally scorned if anyone did know about it.  However, Dr. Allen said, patients started finding Dr. Wu when seeking relief from health conditions that failed to respond to conventional medical therapies.  In most instances, Dr. Wu's Traditional Chinese treatment using herbs and acupuncture was successful.

Baby born to childless couple thanks to Dr. Wu
Soon patients came from hundreds and thousands of miles away for treatment by a Chinese doctor, who refused to give up on finding ways to help people, long after modern medicine had given up.  In the spring of 1995 Dr. Wu was one of very few qualified Traditional Chinese Health (TCM) practitioners between New York and Chicago.

In 1995, Dr. Allen began referring patients to Dr. Wu and soon realized Dr. Wu was having dramatic success treating people awaiting heart transplants that delayed the need for a transplant for years.  Within a short time, several hundred people in the region had overcome life-threatening illnesses under the skilled care of Dr. Wu.

Dr. Wu welcomed home to address Pen Ying City High School
Dr. Allen himself contracted renal cell carcinoma of the right kidney and other health complications resulted in a very poor prognosis until Dr. Wu began treating him with herbs and acupuncture.  After the initial surgery, conditions had improved so much thanks to Dr. Wu that the doctors eliminated follow up chemotherapy or radiation and follow up exams have showed no evidence of cancer or complications since.  This story is one of hundreds in the files of Dr. Wu.     

Today Dr. Wu continues his life's mission toward demonstrating that Eastern and Western medicine can work together to help people in ways we cannot imagine.  National leaders in the health care industry have stated that Dr. Wu stands alone as a trusted practitioner, respected teacher, and valued researcher, a true Master, as he occupies a pivotal place within the evolving world of TCM.

Dr. Wu at Qiao Ling Lei 70th birthday party 2012
Contacting Dr. Wu:

            Dr. Shi-hua Wu, CMD,  OMD
            Professor of Traditional Chinese Medicine
            US Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbologist (DC, MD, NY)
            Clinical Consultant in Acupuncture and Herbology
            807 6th St., N.W.WashingtonD.C. 20001
            Phone 202-789-5466
            Fax 202-789-2094

A Snapshot of China and America during Dr. Wu's career

What were the differences Dr. Wu faced between his home country of China and adopted country of the United States, the top two world superpowers as we enter the 21st Century?  What difficulty did a young man from the Chinese desert region face in wanting to build bridges between these two cultures?  What demographic and cultural characteristics did they possess?

Dr. and Mrs. Wu with children and grandchildren
Humans populated China over 1 million years ago.  Tools were discovered in China dating back 1.36 million years, man made fire dating back 1.2 million years.  The oldest fossil specimens of man are the Peking Man dating 750,000 years ago.  The Neolithic Age started 10,000 years ago and agriculture began 7,500 years ago.

Compare that to the United States.  America had no humans according to science until sometime between 40,000 and 17,000 years ago when people crossed the Bering Straight from Asia.  It was not until settlers from Europe overran the indigenous peoples in the 1500's in South America and 1600 in North America that organized civilization in terms of the formation of countries began to evolve.

Dr. and Mrs. Wu and grandchildren
Therefore, the most economically powerful nation in the world, the United States, is about 400 years old and the second most economically powerful nation that is rapidly gaining on the USAChina, is over 5,000 years old.  North America has had human inhabitants about 40,000 years while China has had human inhabitants over 1 million years.


Author's note:  Several years ago, my organs were failing and I was near death from a combination of propane poisoning and Lyme disease when friends from the Navy Seals suggested I see Dr. Wu in Chinatown (WashingtonD.C.) before I saw any other professionals.  His natural and ancient treatment with acupuncture and herbs most certainly saved my life, restored my health, and allowed me to regenerate damaged nerves.

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