Is Chinese Medicine Effective Against COVID-19?

A recent publication in the Internal Journal of Biological Sciences (Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(10):1708-1717), provided an interesting perspective and review on the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  for SARS /COVID-19 infections. 

Application of TCM in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 has been inspired by the outbreak of SARS-CoV in late 2002 in China, and the use of TCM to treat it. Based on observational studies and randomized clinical trials, there is some compelling evidence to support the notion that TCM has a beneficial effect in the treatment or prevention of SARS. A critical analysis of eight randomized controlled trials concluded that as a complement to conventional medicine, TCM showed a  decrease in mortality and relief of symptoms, as well as control of fungal infections in patients with SARS. Additionally, an analysis of 90 peer-reviewed papers showed that TCM used as a complement to conventional treatment had some benefits, including better control of fever, and faster recovery from symptoms. However, more high-quality clinical studies are required.

As of March 1, 2020, a total of 303 clinical trials have been launched in China to evaluate the efficacy and safety of treatments for COVID-19 patients. Among them, 50 trials are focused on the use of TCM, including 14 cases to examine the effect of combination treatments using TCM with conventional Western medicine. In addition, 36 trials are studying the effect of herbal preparations and commercially available TCM products on patients.

So, a lot of research is underway based on the promising results from the SARS epidemic of 2002 which is great BUT please note that these studies are not a license to go shopping online for TCM products. 

Ideally, you should see a licensed acupuncturist and certified Chinese herbalist to ascertain if these formulas are appropriate for the specific manifestation of your disease, and potentially choose others as Chinese medicine takes the whole patient into account. Herbal formulas are always individualized specific to the patient. Keep in mind that TCM formulas, while natural, can have a strong physiological impact so please seek out a licensed practitioner in your area for an evaluation. It is important that the practitioner has a complete Chinese herbal pharmacy so the formula can be adjusted daily or every other day as the condition can change rapidly. And if you’re wondering how to choose an appropriately qualified TCM practitioner, check out my blog on Making Sense of the Alphabet Soup.

For the original article in China Daily, click here.

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