COVID19 and
Traditional
Chinese Medicine

TCM and Coronavirus
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Every day, we find out more about COVID 19, but treatment still has not been found. Considering that the flu has been studied for decades, and the only treatment is vaccination. The Time magazine stated, “Mid-season estimates suggest that the flu shot has reduced the risk of illness by around 47% in vaccinated people, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the severe 2017-2018 flu season, vaccine efficacy was estimated at just 36%,” which means that when the COVID 19 vaccine will be developed, its effectiveness will most likely be far from perfect. So how can traditional Chinese medicine help? Since it does very little to the virus itself and its main focus is to keep people in their optimal state of health, the method’s best use is for prevention. 

What We Know So Far

According to the report published on February 21, 2020, in the Journal of American Medical Association, the first COVID19 carrier, a 20-year-old-woman who lives in Wuhan City, China, traveled to Anyang on January 10, 2020. She passed the virus to five of her relatives, who all developed respiratory symptoms and were hospitalized. Interestingly enough, the initial patient was under observation for over a month, and she did not develop any symptoms. The report also states that “All symptomatic patients had multifocal ground-glass opacities on chest CT, and 1 also had subsegmental areas of consolidation and fibrosis. All the symptomatic patients had increased C-reactive protein levels and reduced lymphocyte counts” (Bai et al., 2020). While some data has been collected and analyzed—for example, according to one report, “Since February 12, 4,226 COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States; 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths occurred among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years. These findings are similar to data from China, which indicated >80% of deaths occurred among persons aged ≥60 years” (COVID & Team, 2020)—effective treatment still does not exist. 

The National Institutes of Health posted a detailed review of the virus and the disease it causes on their website, and it as well as the Chinese CDC report “divided the clinical manifestations of the disease by their severity: (1) Mild disease: non-pneumonia and mild pneumonia; this occurred in 81% of cases. (2) Severe disease: dyspnea, respiratory frequency ≥ 30/min, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) ≤ 93%, PaO2/FiO2 ratio < 300, and/or lung infiltrates > 50% within 24 to 48 hours; this occurred in 14% of cases. And (3) Critical disease: respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction (MOD) or failure (MOF); this occurred in 5% of cases” (Cascella et al., 2020).

COVID19-and-Traditional-Chinese-Medicine

What Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Do

Traditional Chinese medicine was extensively used in China in 2003 during the SARS epidemic and according to one report posted on the National Institutes of Health’s website, “achieved remarkable therapeutic effect” (Ren, Zhang, & Wang, 2020). The conclusion was: “Treatment practice of COVID-19 showed that early intervention of TCM is an important way to improve the cure rate, shorten the course of the disease, delay disease progression and reduce mortality rate” (Ren, Zhang, & Wang, 2020). Another report points out that “The combination of TCM and Western medicine can effectively reduce fever; alleviate cough, fatigue, diarrhea, and other symptoms of patients with mild COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease-19). For the treatment of moderate and severe syndromes, the integrative approach can reduce lung exudation and inhibit the further development of the disease” (Liang & Litscher, 2020). 

he classical point of view as well as the main focus of traditional Chinese medicine, however, is on the prevention of diseases, rather than their treatment. The purpose of all the multiple modalities of traditional Chinese medicine is to keep the organism in its optimal balance, and modern research concurs that: increasing clinical evidence support that acupuncture treatment is effective for various immunological diseases including allergic disorders, infections, autoimmune diseases and immunodeficiency-syndromes (Kim & Bae, 2010). So in order to take advantage of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping therapy, qigong, gua sha, and other modalities of traditional Chinese medicine, it is crucial to use them for a regular tune-up—to prevent any decrease in the optimal state of health—rather than for treatment of a health issue that’s already developed.

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