BioScience Trends. 2021;15(4):201-204. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2021.01263)

Traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of novel infectious diseases: Current status and dilemma

Qi FH, Tang W


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a valuable form of medicine with a long history in China. It has played a significant role in the control and prevention of infectious diseases including SARS and H7N9 flu. After the outbreak of COVID-19, China's National Health Commission included TCM in the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic, three traditional Chinese medicines (Jinhua Qinggan granules, Lianhua Qingwen medicine, and a Xuebijing Injection) and three TCM preparations (a Qingfei Paidu decoction, a Huashi Baidu decoction, and a Xuanfei Baidu decoction) have been screened for their efficacy against COVID-19. More than 150 trials involving TCMs are registered in the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR), and those trials cover prevention, treatment, recovery, and illnesses diagnosed in accordance with TCM principles. TCM can effectively alleviate the symptoms of patients with COVID-19, delay the disease's progression from mild to severe or critical, and reduce severe and critical all-cause mortality. The underlying mechanisms of TCM mainly involve action against SARS-CoV-2, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory action, and organ protection. The current work provides a brief description of the current status of and issues with TCM to treat this novel infectious disease. The hope is that TCM can help considerably to control this global epidemic.

KEYWORDS: Traditional Chinese Medicine, COVID-19, Chinese protocol, clinical trials, underlying mechanisms

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