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Traditional Chinese medicine aids global fight against COVID-19

2022-06-16 10:01:00 Source:Xinhua Author:
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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), widely introduced and used in the global anti-pandemic fight since the onset of COVID-19, has proved to be remarkably effective.

In a report released late March, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the TCM is beneficial in the COVID-19 treatment, particularly mild-to-moderate cases.

From Asia to Africa and Europe, an increasing number of doctors and patients have tried the TCM and enjoyed its benefits. Calls have been growing to integrate the TCM and Western medicine so as to boost humans' relentless pursuit of health and fight diseases like COVID-19.



During the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, just like elsewhere around the world, little was known about this virus and panic was not uncommon. Months after the country confirmed its first coronavirus-related death in March 2020, a Chinese medical team arrived to assist in the anti-virus fight.


Chen Zanyu, president of the Federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners, treats his patient Charles Bell at his clinic in Chislehurst, Britain, on April 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Han Yan) 

Among the 12 team members was Sun Shuang, a TCM expert in respiratory diseases. She went to the African country on a 498-day medical assistance mission. As the only TCM doctor in the team, Sun was mainly responsible for the construction of Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Center and the anti-pandemic work.

"I have treated more than 1,400 COVID-19 patients in total, online and offline. The overall effective rate of the integrated traditional Chinese and Western medicine treatment has reached more than 92 percent, so this is very convincing to the Ministry of Health (Zimbabwe) and the public," she told Xinhua.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, incomplete statistics showed that China had by April shared TCM diagnosis and treatment guidelines with over 150 countries and regions, provided TCM products to more than 10 countries and regions in need, and sent TCM experts to help epidemic control in about 30 countries and regions.

In March last year, China held the "Forum on Traditional Chinese Medicine and International Cooperation to Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic," during which political leaders, government officials, WHO representatives and experts from 28 countries and regions had in-depth exchanges via video link.

Eddie Sanyama, a resident in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and his wife caught COVID-19 in January 2021. As symptoms like headaches, running nose and nausea occurred, they turned to the TCM for help.

"It was a five-day course. And then on the second day, I started feeling much better. And on day four, I fully recovered," Sanyama told Xinhua. "I feel it's very effective and it's cheap, and I would recommend that Zimbabweans can take up this medicine. I think it's very effective."


Photo taken with a mobile phone on April 29, 2022 shows a staff member at Rose Pharmacy mixing the ingredients of the Chinese medicine "Shufeng Jiedu" in Rosenheim, Germany. (Xinhua/Huang Yan) 



When Mohammad Dawood, a graphic designer in Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait, was infected with the coronavirus, he suffered from symptoms like dry cough and fever.

"A friend of mine suggested me with the Chinese medicine and it had a great effect in relieving symptoms and reducing the temperature," he told Xinhua.

After an expert meeting convened by the WHO on evaluation of TCM's effectiveness in the COVID-19 treatment, a meeting report was published in March, noting, "There are promising data to suggest that TCM is beneficial in reducing the risk of progression from mild-to-moderate cases to severe COVID-19."

"For mild-to-moderate cases, there is encouraging evidence that the studied TCMs, when administered as add-on interventions to conventional treatment, may shorten the time for viral clearance, resolution of clinical symptoms and length of hospital stay when compared to conventional treatment alone," the report added.

In Britain, with health systems based on Western medicine, the TCM has also gained increasing popularity. Chen Zanyu, president of the Federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners, said he and his colleagues have become much busier especially since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

COVID-19 once caused palpitations to Charles Bell, a British patient in southeast London, and it was like 10 or 15 seconds twice a day. "The herbs calm that down and help that," he said. "And the herbs, they just made me feel more balanced and better able to function."

Chen told Xinhua that they have treated thousands of COVID-19 patients in Britain. "In fact, probably none of the herbs can deliberately kill or eliminate the virus itself," he said. "But the good thing about Chinese approaches is we try to readjust the body's immune system or the balance of energy or balance of five elements (of water, wood, fire, earth or metal) or yin and yang."

It was like if someone wants to get rid of weeds, he could target the weeds, but also the soil where weeds grow, Chen explained with an analogy. "So that is the Chinese wisdom we have put in practice for thousands of years."


Chinese medical team members hold a meeting with their Kuwaiti counterparts in Mubarak Al-Kabeer Governorate, Kuwait, on April 29, 2020. (Xinhua) 



To help fight the coronavirus in Germany, ConPhyMed Pharmaceutical GmbH in the country and Anhui Jiren Pharmaceuticals in China in 2020 jointly introduced Chinese medicine formula Shufeng Jiedu to German pharmacies, including the Rose Pharmacy in Rosenheim, a city in Bavaria in the southeast of Germany.

"Shufeng Jiedu naturally found its place, after we saw very quickly that it has an extremely good effect on the acute infection with the high viral load with Corona," said Nadja Wehner, a pharmacist at the Rose Pharmacy.

Wehner said she was "honored to be able to offer the TCM in my pharmacy, because many synergistic effects through the plant substances have a gigantic effect on the body with mild side effects and are an extremely good supplement to classical medicine."

Christine Sanftl, a naturopathic practitioner in Rosenheim, said, "The feedback from my patients or from all the other people who have taken Shufeng Jiedu, for example, has been consistently positive."

"I see the role of the TCM as an excellent part of naturopathic methods and as a complement to classical medicine, both of which are based on a wealth of experience from previous generations," Sanftl told Xinhua.

During the WHO-convened expert meeting, according to the report, it recommended member states to "consider the potential use of the TCM for the management of COVID-19 in the context of their health-care systems and regulatory frameworks." From Africa to Europe, the recommendation is being brought into practice.


Chinese doctor Sun Shuang (C) and intern doctor Karen Gurure (R) talk with patient John Mbondoza at the Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Center in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 20, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang) 

"We are inspired by the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China for adopting COVID-19 treatment guidelines that integrate traditional Chinese and conventional medicine. This integration of the two systems of health will undoubtedly contribute to the transition from volume-best to value-best health care," said Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

For Bell, the British patient, he has known about TCM treatment for decades, "so I already have quite a lot of experience of it. And I like it."

Bell told Xinhua that he thought the TCM and Western medicine "should be merged and work together. And it's not just about COVID. There're all sorts of situations where people will benefit. And in fact, the society would benefit."

"Chinese medicine can play a much bigger role," Chen said. He told Xinhua that he remembered when he was still a student, his teacher once said, as long as it's gold, it will shine. "I think (for Chinese medicine) that's for sure."  

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