The use of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) preventive measures and treatments for COVID-19 is gaining attention worldwide.
A study team from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland surveyed local TCM practitioners and therapists who treated patients in the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. It is found that over 70 percent of the TCM practitioners provided treatment for patients who suffered from COVID, had promising results in both preventing the disease and rehabilitation post-COVID. The team expects the demand for TCM in Switzerland to increase amid the pandemic and suggests that the existing medical system should include TCM in its treatment arsenal. The study report was published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.
The team sent questionnaires to 2,102 qualified TCM practitioners and therapists in Switzerland and received valid replies from 102 practitioners and 218 therapists. Results showed that 76 percent of the respondents treated patients with COVID-19 mainly for prevention of recurrence or better recovery. However, the respondents found less data on treatment of patients with ongoing infection.
When asked which method was commonly used for preventing and recovering from COVID-19, the practitioners and therapists stated that acupuncture is the primary treatment. The most popular prescription for the prevention of COVID-19 was Jade Wind-Barrier Powder which uses three Chinese herbs: milkvetch root, Atractylodes, and Divaricate Saposhnikovia root. The Swiss Government restricted non-emergency medical services for anti-pandemic measures from March to April 2020. Hence, most Chinese medical clinics closed temporarily. However, some practitioners and therapists of TCM continued to serve patients via the telephone or by in person visits.
Researchers of previous studies mentioned that the death rate of COVID-19 patients was reduced after treatment with a blend of Western and Chinese medicines compared with solely Western medicine. They believe Chinese medicines work most effectively for the recovery phase of COVID-19 infection. The survey also showed that patients tended to seek TCM during recovery from COVID-19. The practitioners and therapists said that TCM facilitates the recovery process.
One Swiss report showed that 26 percent of COVID-19 patients still have sequelae six months after infection. The team suggested increasing the utilization of TCM for combating Long COVID, which is common, and currently lacks effective treatment.
Many studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for eradicating the sequela of COVID-19 infection have been done. The University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio published a report in the Medical Acupuncture journal showing that a 50-year-old woman had fatigue, loss of smell, chest distress, palpitations, coughing, and brain frog, eight months after the COVID-19 infection. She completely recovered after receiving six courses of acupuncture combined with physiotherapy.
Another retrospective study published in Medical Acupuncture indicated that acupuncture adjusts immunity, has anti-inflammatory effects, and enhances blood circulation, which alleviate the symptoms of Long COVID.
Several studies have shown that Chinese medicines have anti-toxicity effects on COVID-19.
For example, many Swiss TCM practitioners prescribe Jade Wind-Barrier Powder to prevent COVID-19. One of the major components, milkvetch root, is thought to boost immunity. Several universities in Taiwan concluded that milkvetch root accelerates the production of “tiny RNA” in cells which neutralize the toxicity of COVID-19. Milkvetch root also prevents the fusion of the coronavirus with body cells, so the virus no longer replicates. It also suppresses the inflammatory process aroused by factors inside cells.
The China Medical University in Taiwan made use of Jade Wind-Barrier Powder as a foundation to develop the “Formula of TCM against COVID,” which reduces the infection rate of COVID-19 by 70-80 percent at the cellular level.