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Combining TCM, Western medicine effective against virus

By YANG WANLI in Beijing and LIU KUN in Wuhan | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-02-21 07:33
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Pharmacists pack and sell Chinese medicine at the Hu Qingyutang Chinese Medicine Museum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo by Feng Chonglin/]

Integrating traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine to treat novel coronavirus patients has proved effective, a top official with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine said on Thursday.

"A large number of clinical practices have confirmed the effect of the combined treatment of TCM and Western medicine on new coronavirus pneumonia patients," said Yu Yanhong, Party chief and deputy head of the administration who is also a member of the central government work group guiding the epidemic control effort in Hubei province.

She said TCM can rapidly improve the symptoms of mild patients, shorten the course of disease for patients with severe symptoms and reduce the possibility of mild infections from becoming severe.

Citing the latest clinical research on 102 patients with light symptoms, Yu said TCM treatment can shorten the average length of a patient's stay in hospital by 2.2 days while enhancing the recovery rate by 33 percent compared with the control group.

The transfer rate from mild symptoms to severe symptoms dropped by 27.4 percent, and the number of lymphocytes, an important indicator of the health condition of patients who are recovering, increased by 70 percent, according to the clinical research.

Yu said the central leadership has paid great attention to the epidemic control work, and President Xi Jinping has made clear instructions to constantly improve the diagnosis and treatment plan and to integrate TCM with Western medicine in the treatment of the pneumonia.

"The early participation of TCM in the treatment of the novel coronavirus pneumonia has produced a notable effect," she said.

Administration data released on Monday showed that TCM had been applied to 60,107 infected patients, or 85.2 percent, of the total infections nationwide.

In Guangdong province, 1,245 confirmed virus patients-or as many as 94 percent of all the patients in the province-had received TCM treatment apart from Western medicine treatment by Tuesday, TCM experts said at a news conference in Guangzhou on Wednesday. TCM proved effective in 89 percent of the cases, they added.

Apart from medicines, TCM treatment also included acupuncture, ear acupuncture point application and Baduanjin (a fitness practice with a history of 800 years), improving patients' sleep and facilitating their recovery, said Chen Ning, director of the Pulmonary Disease Department of the Guangdong Second Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital.

Yu said one herbal concoction, known as Qingfei Paidu Soup, which mixes ephedra and licorice root among other ingredients, has emerged as an effective prescription and has been listed in the latest diagnosis and treatment guide book.

Official data shows that as of Thursday, 3,200 trained TCM medical workers have participated in treating virus patients in Hubei province.

Four batches of national-level TCM teams comprising 588 people are now stationed in four medical institutions in Hubei, including the newly built Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

Ten national-level TCM expert teams have also been organized to make regular visits in several major designated hospitals. Currently, each mobile cabin hospital in the province has two to three TCM doctors.

"We will continue combining TCM with Western medical treatment. Also, the treatment plan that mixes TCM with Western medicines will be further improved to form a mechanism and play a more important role in fighting the disease," Yu said.

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