Researchers in many countries have been turning to already existing and science-backed drugs to find a way to treat or eliminate COVID-19. In China, the effort to fight the rapidly spreading disease involves the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The government recently released a white paper showing that TCM helped treat 92 percent of the COVID-19 cases across the country. Beijing said six traditional remedies could serve as coronavirus treatments, the BBC reported Monday.
The list includes Jinhua Qinggan that was created during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. It contains 12 components, such as honeysuckle, mint and liquorice.
The other popular TCM being used as COVID-19 treatment in China is Lianhua Qingwen. It is made of 13 herbs including forsythia suspense and rhodiola rose.
As the country continues to record new cases of COVID-19, demand for TCM has also been increasing. China’s State Council estimated that the local TCM industry would grow to $420 billion by the end of 2020.
China Wants To Bring Traditional Medicine Abroad
The world has yet to get a tested and effective treatment for the coronavirus infection. That is why China hopes to bring TCM to other countries heavily affected by the pandemic.
“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,” Yu Yanhong, deputy head of China’s National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said in March.
However, health experts have raised concerns about the safety of traditional medicines. The U.S. National Institutes of Health even said that the overall effectiveness of TCMs against the coronavirus is inconclusive.
“For TCM there is no good evidence and therefore its use is not just unjustified, but dangerous,” Edzard Ernst, a retired researcher of complementary medicines in the United Kingdom, said in a paper published in the journal Nature.
Another expert also noted that not everyone in China relies on traditional medicines. Many citizens still prefer medicine over TCM despite the government efforts to promote the older approach, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.