Skip to main content

The role played by traditional Chinese medicine in preventing and treating COVID-19 in China

Abstract

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), an ancient system of alternative medicine, played an active role in the prevention and control of COVID-19 in China. It improved the clinical symptoms of patients, reduced the mortality rate, improved the recovery rate, and effectively relieved the operating pressure on the national medical system during critical conditions. In light of the current global pandemic, TCM-related measures might open up a new channel in the control of COVID-19 in other countries and regions. Here, we summarize the TCM-related measures that were widely used in China, including TCM guidelines, the Wuchang pattern, mobile cabin hospitals, integrated treatment of TCM and modern medicine for critical patients, and non-medicine therapy for convalescent patients, and describe how TCM effectively treated patients afflicted with the COVID-19. Effective TCM therapies could, therefore, be recommended and practiced based on the existing medical evidence from increased scientific studies.

References

  1. 1.

    World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation report-128. 2020. https://www.who.intydocs/default-source/coronavimse/situation-reports/20200527-covid-19-sitrep-128.pdf?sfvrsn=11720c0a_2 (accessed May 28, 2020)

  2. 2.

    National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. The latest situation of the COVID-19 situation as of 24:00 on March 29. 2020. http://www.nhc.gov.cn/xcs/yqtb/202003/c46e73d692d047619bfb29680950d88d.shtml (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  3. 3.

    People’s Daily. “Three formulas and three medicines” selected as COVID-19 treatment and over 90% of patients were applied to the TCM treatment. 2020. http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2020-03/24/con-tent_5494742.htm (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  4. 4.

    World Health Organization. ICD-11: Classifying disease to map the way we live and die. 2018. https://www.who.int/zh/news-room/spotlight/international-classification-of-diseases (accessed May 28, 2020)

  5. 5.

    Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and important lessons from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in China: summary of a report of 72 314 cases from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA 2020; 323(13): 1239

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Song P, Zhao L, Li X, Su J, Jiang Z, Song B, Liu W, Tang S, Lei Y, Ding Q, Yang Z, Lin J, Wei Y, Tong X. Interpretation of TCM part in Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 (Trial Version 7). J Tradit Chin Med 2020; [Epub ahead of print] http://kns.cnki.net/kcms/detail/11.2167.R.20200325.1623.002.html (accessed May 28, 2020)

  7. 7.

    National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Xiaolin Tong: “Wuchang pattern” with Chinese medicine characteristics provided new ideas for community prevention and control of COVID-19. 2020. https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/NeJo3wkHo_l-NemZP6-Tdlg (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  8. 8.

    Zhang BL. What role has traditional Chinese medicine played in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Study Times (Xue Xi Shi Bao) 2020-3-18. 6 (in Chinese)

  9. 9.

    Wang H. Analysis of curative effect of Reduning injection on children with lobar pneumonia. Heilongjiang Med Pharm (Heilongjiang Yi Yao Ke Xue) 2019; 42(3): 131–132 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Bai F, Xu D, Jiang S. 40 cases of adult bronchopneumonia treated by Reduning injection. West J Tradit Chin Med (Xi Bu Zhong Yi Yao) 2019; 32(2): 98–100 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Yin Q, Zhang JX, Yu TH, Li SM. Clinical effect of ribavirin injection combined with Tanreqing ultrasonic atomization in treating viral pneumonia caused by influenza virus infection. Chin J Clin Rational Drug Use (Lin Chuang He Li Yong Yao Za Zhi) 2016; 9 (12): 10–11, 14 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Yuan RZ, Wang H, Han WH, Ma MC, Yang XL. Effect of Tanreqing injection on CRP, PCT, WBC and cellular immune indexes in severe pneumonia. Chin J Diff Cases (Yi Nan Bing Za Zhi) 2016; 15(2): 147–149, 153 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Zhao S, Liu Y, Fan F, Wang X, Jin Z, Wang W, Da Li XC. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment strategy for convalescent patients with severe or critical cases of COVID-19. J Hunan Univ Chin Med (Hunan Zhong Yi Yao Da Xue Xue Bao) 2020; 40(4): 387–391 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Lan L, Xu D, Ye G, Xia C, Wang S, Li Y, Xu H. Positive RT-PCR test results in patients recovered from COVID-19. JAMA 2020; 323 (15): 1502

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Li XD, Liu BY, Wang Y, Guan L, Li GX, Wang H, Wang J, Weng CS, Xiao MZ, Tong XL. Interpretation of Recommendation on the Rehabilitation Guidance of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Coronavirus Disease in the Recovery Period (Trial). J Tradit Chin Med (Zhong Yi Za Zhi) 2020; 61(11): 928–934 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Wang JP. TCM anti-epidemic 27: Tong Xiaolin team announced three new research results on COVID-19. 2020. https://www.hubpd.com/c/2020-03-31/954815.shtml?from=timeline&isappin-stalled=0 (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  17. 17.

    Hu K, Guan WJ, Bi Y, Zhang W, Li L, Zhang B, Liu Q, Song Y, Li X, Duan Z, Zheng Q, Yang Z, Liang J, Han M, Ruan L, Wu C, Zhang Y, Jia ZH, Zhong NS. Efficacy and safety of Lianhuaqingwen capsules, a repurposed Chinese herb, in patients with coronavirus disease 2019: a multicenter, prospective, randomized controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2020; 153242

  18. 18.

    The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. The State Council Information Office held a conference on the important role of Chinese medicine in the prevention and treatment COVID-19 and related effective drugs. 2020. http://www.scio.gov.cn/xwfbh/xwbfbh/wqfbh/42311/42768/index.htm (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  19. 19.

    Yao KT, Liu MH, Li X, Huang JH, Cai HB. Retrospective clinical analysis of traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen granule in treating new coronavirus pneumonia. Chin J Exp Tradit Med Form (Zhongguo Shi Yan Fang Ji Xue Za Zhi) 2020; 26(11): 8–12 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Cheng D, Li Y. Clinical analysis and typical case report of 54 patients with COVID-19 treated by Lianhua Gingwen granule. World Chinese Medicine 2020; 15(2): 150–154

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Cheng DZ, Wang WJ, Li Y, Wu XD, Zhou B, Song QY. Analysis of the efficacy of Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen granule in 51 patients with COVID-19: a multicenter retrospective study. Tianjin J Tradit Chin Med (Tianjin Zhong Yi Yao Za Zhi) 2020; [Epub ahead of print] http://kns.cnki.net/kcms/detail/12.1349.R.20200310.1024.004.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  22. 22.

    Li RF, Hou YL, Huang JC, Pan WQ, Ma QH, Shi YX, Li CF, Zhao J, Jia ZH, Jiang HM, Zheng K, Huang SX, Dai J, Li XB, Hou XT, Wang L, Zhong NS, Yang ZF. Lianhuaqingwen exerts anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity against novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Pharmacol Res 2020; 156: 104761

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Duan C. Xia WG, Zheng CJ, Sun GB, Li ZL, Li QL, Li P, Zhang HL, Yang FW, Zhang BL, Liu QQ. Clinical observation of Jinhua Qinggan granule in treating COVID-19. J Tradit Chin Med (Zhong Yi Za Zhi) 2020; [Epub ahead of print] http://kns.cnki.net/kcms/detail/11.2166.R.20200323.0853.002.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  24. 24.

    Gong PY, Guo YJ, Li XP, Wang N, Gu J. Research on potential drugs of Jinhua Qinggan granule for preventing and treating COVID-19 based on network pharmacology and pharmacodynamic research. Chin Tradit Herb Drugs (Zhong Cao Yao) 2020; [Epub ahead of print] http://kns.cnki.net/kcms/detail/12.1108.R.20200326.1115.002.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  25. 25.

    Song Y, Yao C, Yao Y, Han H, Zhao X, Yu K, Liu L, Xu Y, Liu Z, Zhou Q, Wang Y, Ma Z, Zheng Y, Wu D, Tang Z, Zhang M, Pan S, Chai Y, Song Y, Zhang J, Pan L, Liu Y, Yu H, Yu X, Zhang H, Wang X, Du Z, Wan X, Tang Y, Tian Y, Zhu Y, Wang H, Yan X, Liu Z, Zhang B, Zhong N, Shang H, Bai C. XueBiJing Injection versus placebo for critically ill patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia: a randomized controlled trial. Crit Care Med 2019; 47 (9): e735–e743

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Huashi Baidu granule: ancient and innovative wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. 2020. http://www.satcm.gov.cn/xinxifabu/meitibaodao/2020-03-27/14296.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  27. 27.

    National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Progress in screening research on effective prescriptions of traditional Chinese medicine. 2020. http://bgs.satcm.gov.cn/gongzuodongtai/2020-02-06/12866.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  28. 28.

    National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qingfei Paidu decoction had good feedback. 2020. http://www.satcm.gov.cn/xinxifabu/meitibaodao/2020-03-24/14224.html (in Chinese) (accessed May 28, 2020)

  29. 29.

    Wang Y, Li X, Zhang JH, Xue R, Qian JY, Zhang XH, Zhang H, Liu QQ, Fan XH, Cheng JY, Zhang BL. Study on the mechanism of Xuanfei Baidu decoction in treating COVID-19 based on network pharmacology. Chin J Chin Materia Medica (Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi) 2020; 45(10):2249–2256 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by National Science and Technology Emergency Research Project — Clinical Research on the Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 with Integrated Chinese and Modern Medicine (No. 2020YFC0841600), National Classification of Project “Public Safety Risk Prevention and Emergency Technology Equipment” Special Key Project — Clinical Evaluation of Traditional Chinese Medical Intervention on Convalescent COVID-19 (No. 2020YFC0845000).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Linhua Zhao or Xiaolin Tong.

Ethics declarations

Qingwei Li, Han Wang, Xiuyang Li, Yujiao Zheng, Yu Wei, Pei Zhang, Qiyou Ding, Jiaran Lin, Shuang Tang, Yikun Zhao, Linhua Zhao, and Xiaolin Tong declare that they have no competing interests. All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, Q., Wang, H., Li, X. et al. The role played by traditional Chinese medicine in preventing and treating COVID-19 in China. Front. Med. 14, 681–688 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-020-0801-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • traditional Chinese medicine
  • COVID-19
  • Wuchang pattern
  • mobile cabin hospital
  • convalescent patients
  • three formulae and three medicines