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TCM deeply involved in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of COVID-19 in China

By Yang Yanfan, People’s Daily

In treating COVID-19 patients, China has always adhered to the principle of combining traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine, and adopted TCM throughout the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of COVID-19 to provide the best possible services for patients, according to an official with China’s health authority.

Guo Yanhong, an official with the medical administration and supervision department under China’s National Health Commission (NHC), made the remarks at a recent press conference held by the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 in response to the latest waves of outbreaks at home.

In the pandemic responses of Chinese cities including Dalian, Heihe and Lanzhou, TCM has shown its unique advantages and played a key part in ensuring early identification, reporting, isolation and treatment.

After Lanzhou, northwest China’s Gansu province, reported new COVID-19 cases, Zhang Zhongde, vice president of Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in south China’s Guangdong province, hurried to Lanzhou on Oct. 20 to help contain the spread of the virus. It was the ninth time he had been to the front line of the fight against the pandemic.

On the night upon his arrival in the city, Zhang studied and analyzed local cases with other experts.

Medical workers give traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) decoction to people for free to help them prevent diseases in front of a hospital in Jieji township, Suqian city, east China’s Jiangsu province, August 1, 2021. (Photo by Xu Changliang/People’s Daily Online)
Medical workers give traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) decoction to people for free to help them prevent diseases in front of a hospital in Jieji township, Suqian city, east China’s Jiangsu province, August 1, 2021. (Photo by Xu Changliang/People’s Daily Online)

“Unlike previous cases, few of the newly confirmed ones in Gansu had a fever. But most of them showed symptoms like xerostomia, dry throat and dry cough, and some had symptoms similar to those of a cold, such as headache and runny nose,” Zhang said.

TCM that is helpful for nourishing people’s energy can effectively alleviate patients’ symptoms like dry mouth, dry throat and dry cough, he added.

Taking into consideration the virological characteristics, syndrome, geographical and climatic features of the outbreaks, Chinese experts have adjusted and improved TCM diagnosis and treatment formulas in time and emphasized the importance of tailoring prescriptions for patients according to their respective symptoms.

TCM has once again demonstrated its unique merits and curative effects in China’s efforts to cure COVID-19 patients.

TCM has been prioritized in the treatment of mild cases, according to Guo, who said that TCM has been proven effective in easing patients’ clinical symptoms including fever, cough, poor appetite, and fatigue.

Close combination of TCM and Western medicine has prevented the condition of mild COVID-19 cases from deteriorating, Guo noted.

As regards critically ill patients, some TCM has been proven effective in reducing high fever and other aspects, Guo added.

TCM emphasizes preemptive prevention of disease. Last year, Wuchang district, Wuhan city, central China’s Hubei province, created a common TCM formula against COVID-19 based on its experience in fighting the pandemic and took the lead in giving out TCM in residential communities, witnessing good results in strengthening people’s immunity and reducing COVID-19 infection rate.

TCM decoction, as important preventive means of TCM for thousands of years, is useful for protecting the susceptible population, said Tian Xingjun, head of the Sichuan Provincial Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

To give full play to TCM’s role in COVID-19 prevention, Sichuan province has widely spread knowledge about TCM and anti-pandemic measures and provided the public with guidance on maintaining and improving health, Tian pointed out.

It should be noted that TCM has also helped with patients’ rehabilitation. After patients finish their course of treatment, they receive a TCM prescription for further recovery, which is aimed at enhancing their immunity, said Qi Wensheng, director of the emergency department of Guang’anmen Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.

On Nov. 3, the first three cured COVID-19 patients in Gansu’s latest outbreaks were discharged from the hospital. They then went through a 14-day rehabilitation and health self-monitoring period, during which TCM decoction, Baduanjin qigong, Taijiquan, and other TCM therapies were employed to help them get back to their normal life as soon as possible.

In the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, TCM is able to play a role in the whole course of treatment, according to Zhang Boli, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and honorary president of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Noting that Chinese and Western medicine have their own strengths and specialties, Zhang said that by inheriting the traditional essence of TCM and continuously seeking innovation in practice, TCM practitioners have made important contributions to safeguarding people’s health amid the pandemic.

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