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Traditional Chinese medicine plays big role in COVID-19 fight

Source: International Communication Center for Science & Technology| 2020-10-09 11:10:23| Author: Wang Xijia,Zhang Ye&China.org


A pharmacist compounds traditional Chinese medicine at The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui University of Chinese Medicine in Hefei, east China's Anhui Province, 

Feb. 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

"Facing the once-in-a-century global pandemic, it can be said that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has stood the test," said Tong Xiaolin, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and head of the treatment group of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, at a conference on medicine and life health held this year in Nanjing.

The Lianhua Qingwen Capsule, Jinhua Qinggan Granule, Lung Detoxification Decoction and other prescriptions have not only provided powerful weapons against the epidemic, but also shown the innovation of TCM.

TCM helped treat 91.86% of domestic confirmed cases

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China has suffered from four large-scale epidemics, including COVID-19. While all four have witnessed TCM offering effective solutions, the role of the traditional medicine has been particularly important this time.

As of March 30, TCM had been involved in the treatment of a total of 74,886 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up to 91.86% of all cases, noted Tong.

The TCM practitioners hold that the key to combating an epidemic is to figure out its properties. They found that the novel coronavirus is most active in wet and cold environments with a temperature between 5℃ and 11℃ and a humidity of between 47% and 79%.

Tong pointed out that if one compared the novel coronavirus to a seed, then the Western medicine would directly destroy the seed, while TCM instead devastates the soil on which the seed depended by improving a patient's overall physical condition.

Based on this philosophy, Tong invented a prescription to undermine the wet and cold environments favorable to the coronavirus. The prescription has been included into the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia.

From February 3 to March 2, a total of 723,000 prescriptions were distributed in Wuhan, Hubei province, curing more than 50,000 infected persons. The prescription combined with isolation in communities and online expert diagnosis formed a set model of epidemic prevention and control.

TCM practitioners have not only played an important role in dealing with confirmed COVID-19 cases, but also carried out clinical research of the whole process from prevention to treatment. The study found that with TCM intervention the death risk of severe and critical cases was reduced by more than 80%, the reinfection rate by over 10% and the rate of mild symptoms turning into severe by more than 6%. In addition, the combination of TCM and Western medicine might help relieve the clinical symptoms of the disease and cut the usage of anti-infective drugs.

TCM has also mattered in other countries' response to COVID-19. China has donated finished TCM drugs, decoction pieces and acupuncture needles to over a dozen countries and regions including Italy and France. TCM doctors were also sent to foreign countries to assist with their anti-epidemic efforts.

In light of the pandemic, Tong Xiaolin said that the establishment of TCM emergency response system for major infectious diseases should be strengthened and a government-coordinated emergency treatment system mixing TCM and Western medicine should be set up.

Aside from dealing with major public health crises, TCM could also benefit society in a wider sense. In the 21st century, diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's disease, among others, are posing a big threat to people's health with the elderly being the most vulnerable. Compared with Western medicine that targets the pathogen, TCM applies holistic therapies which are more suitable for the elderly. Thus, for China, a country facing a rapidly aging population, TCM should be further advanced.

TCM originates from China but belongs to the world. The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) held last year adopted the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11), which for the first time included a chapter about traditional medicine. Some TCM items such as exogenous diseases and Zang-fu organs-related diseases have become "common language" internationally.

(You can also read it at:http://www.china.org.cn/china/2020-09/30/content_76768338.htm)

Editor:龙云

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