Q&A on using traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 infections

Zhu Yuting
Shanghai health officials offer guidance on commonly asked questions about TCM during the pandemic resurgence.
Zhu Yuting
Q&A on using traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 infections
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Traditional Chinese medicine has proved to be a great help in relieving symptoms of the COVID-19 infection. Based on that, some Shanghai health and TCM officials have jointly release tips about using TCM for prevention and treatment.

Q: What is TCM's role in preventing and treating infectious diseases, especially COVID-19?

A: Not only has it achieved an improvement in symptoms and reduced the rate of severe cases, but it also has shown effects in prevention, rehabilitation and even psychological recovery.

Q: How can residents in Shanghai choose a TCM prescription to prevent COVID-19?

A: There are two kinds of TCM prescriptions which are recommended by local TCM authorities.

The first is a herbal tea for people to improve immunity. It includes astragalus (9g), dried reed rhizome (9g), honeysuckle (5g), perilla leaf (3g) and patchouli (3g). The elderly and infirm can add ginseng (3g) and mint (3g).

Direction: Boil them in water.

The second are TCM decoctions for people living in locked-down areas for comprehensive prevention, such as the Fuzhengkangyi prescription. It includes honeysuckle (15g), nepeta (9g), astragalus (10g), fangfeng (saposhnikoviae radix, 9g), patchouli (9g), radix isatidis (12g, or folium isatidis, 9g, or perilla leaf 15g), patchouli (6g), reed rhizome (30g), fried atractylodes (9g) and raw licorice (6g).

Direction: One dose per day, decocted in water, 100ml each time, twice a day.

Children and pregnant women should take under doctor's instruction.

Q: What are the recommended TCM prescriptions for high-risk groups?

A: People who suffer fatigue with gastrointestinal issues are recommended to take Huoxiangzhengqi capsules or liquid.

Those who have fever and fatigue can take Jinhuaqinggan granules, Lianhuaqingwen capsules (granules), or Shufengjiedu capsules (granules).

The dosage can generally be reduced to half and the course of treatment can be shortened to five days.

Children and pregnant women should follow professional instruction.

Q: Are there any side effects of TCM? How are they dealt with?

A: People with weak digestive systems may experience gastrointestinal discomfort and even diarrhea after taking TCM. To relieve the problem, they can take the medicine with warm water and put in three to four pieces of ginger when making a decoction.

Q: What should COVID-19 patients pay special attention to after being discharged from the hospital? What can TCM do for better recovery?

A: They can have TCM decoctions and try food therapy. Also they can do moxibustion, massage, rehabilitation exercises at home to strengthen their physique.

If patients, especially the elderly, don't recover well at home, they can go to the recovery clinic for further treatment in a local hospital or ask for doctor's advice via the online hospital service.

Q: For COVID-19 prevention, are there any TCM exercises or massage recommended?

A: In addition to TCM herbs and decoctions, residents can also practice traditional exercises such as tai chi, Baduanjin (a form of qigong) and Yijinjing (tendon-muscle strengthening exercises).

Also, doing some massage (10 seconds each time, 8 to 10 times a day) on acupoints, such as Fengchi (on neck), Yingxiang (on face) and Hegu (on hands) can also be effective.

Pregnant women, the infirm, elderly people with osteoporosis, and those with skin infections should not do acupoint massage. Also, people should not do it after meals.

Q&A on using traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 infections
Ti Gong

The Fengchi acupoint

Q&A on using traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 infections
Ti Gong

The Yingxiang acupoint

Q&A on using traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 infections
Ti Gong

The Hegu acupoint

Q: For COVID-19 prevention, is there any recommended TCM aromatherapy?

A: 1. Sachets.

Ingredients: Huoxiang (giant hyssop), wormwood leaves, Shichangpu (acori tatarinowii), atractylodes rhizome, angelica, and star anise

Direction: Grind the above ingredients into powder; put in a cloth bag (10-30g per bag); hang it indoors or in a crowded place, or wear it; change it once a week.

2. Fumigation.

Ingredients: Huoxiang (giant hyssop) 6g, wormwood leaves 6g, angelica 15g, Shichangpu (acori tatarinowii) 9g, mint 6g

Direction: Boiling the above into 1,000ml liquid, placed it in an atomizer, and fumigate for 30 minutes with doors and windows closed, once or twice per day. Generally, an atomizer is enough for a 20- to 30-square-meter room, and the windows can be opened for ventilation after fumigation.

People with allergies, infants, pregnant women and other special groups should use it under instruction from TCM practitioners or pharmacists.

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