China sparks fresh coronavirus fears by turning to traditional medicine to fight virus

Coronavirus currently has very little universally approved and clinically proven treatments, but scientists have made some discoveries into potentially effective drugs. Dexamethasone has been the subject of numerous studies, and has been found to be effective in helping fight COVID-19. Previously, Hydroxychloroquine was studied, but was found to be harmful or not effective in COVID-19 treatment

A recent white paper released by the Chinese government claimed that 92 percent of Chinese cases of coronavirus were treated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

TCM is one of the world’s oldest forms of medical practice and includes a range of treatments from herbal concoctions to acupuncture to Tai Chi.

Experts say China is seeking to expand the appeal of TCM both at home and abroad.

Healthcare professionals remain sceptical of its usefulness, and are unsure of it’s utility in treating COVID-19.

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TCM is widely championed in China, with the countries National Health Commission containing a special chapter for it’s use against coronavirus.
State media has been highlighting it’s role in treating previous outbreaks, such as SARS in 2003.

In the 1970’s, Chinese scientists used Artemisinin, part of a herbal remedy from the fourth century, to find a cure for malaria.

Six traditional remedies have been advertised as COVID-19 treatments: Most prominiently used are Lianhua Qingwen – containing 13 herbs such as forsythia suspense and rhodiola rose – and Jinhua Qinggan.

Jinhua Qinggan was developed during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak and is made of 12 components including honeysuckle, mint and liquorice.

The usage of TCM has been formally recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year, following years of Chinese lobbying.

The move was condemned by the international medical community, as a lack of standards and clinical trials have led to scepticism over a potential widespread adoption.

Swedish authorities tested Lianhua Qingwen samples and found they only contained menthol in May.

The WHO also drew criticism after removing a warning about TCM and other traditional remedies from COVID-19 recommendations.

Some have suggested that China’s touting of TCM amounts to a power play.

China has been sending TCM supplies and practitioners alongside conventional drugs and equipment to Africa, Central Asia and Europe, after state media denied using the pandemic to promote abroad usage.

Yu Yanhong, deputy head of China’s National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said in March that China’s support of TCM is more for collaborative and sharing purposes.

He said: “We are willing to share the ‘Chinese experience’ and ‘Chinese solution’ of treating COVID-19, and let more countries get to know Chinese medicine, understand Chinese medicine, and use Chinese medicine.”