CHM is an ancient system of medicine developed and refined in China now used extensively in hospitals in China with an estimated 85% of patients with COVID-19 received some form of CHM alongside conventional medical treatment.
Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is an ancient system of medicine developed and refined in China and other East Asian countries over the past 2000 years. It is now used extensively in hospitals in China and it has been estimated that around 85% of patients with COVID-19 received some form of CHM alongside conventional medical treatment1.
CHM uses the active compounds available from hundreds of different plants. Although they are not refined and isolated as they are in modern drugs these plants enable what has been described as a poly-pharmacy that allows many compounds to operate together to generate a therapeutic effect.
In your herbal formula you will receive usually between 10-15 different herbs and these will contain plant extracts that have an immune-regulating, an anti-viral, and an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition the CHM practitioner you speak to will take into account any underlying health conditions you have, medication you may be taking and the precise nature of your symptoms to make an individualised formula for you.
In terms of COVID-19 herbal medicines have demonstrated a preventative effect in previous coronavirus epidemics. A large cohort study conducted in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak of 2003 compared 1,063 healthcare workers taking CHM with 36,111 who did not use CHM and found significantly reduced rates of infection in those taking herbal medicines (p=0.014)2.
There is in vitro evidence that Chinese herbs can suppress 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) which is vital for viral replication3. Herbs have also been shown to inhibit the interaction between SARS-CoV S-protein and ACE2 receptor sites to prevent cellular entrance by the virus4.
Furthermore, herbs may have beneficial anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects by reducing cytokine levels5 and enhancing various cellular and humoral immune mechanisms6.
How do I take my Chinese herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is supplied in sealed, single dose sachets in dissolvable granule form which makes a strong tasting herbal drink to be taken once or twice a day. The herbs are produced under Good Manufacturing Practice conditions in China and are being generously supplied at a reduced rate to the Jade Screen Project by Balance Healthcare Ltd. All herbs are tested for authenticity, bio-burden and to ensure they are free of contamination from pesticides, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals. Chinese herbal granules have already been used with NHS patients in MHRA approved clinical trials in the UK.
The concentrated herbal granules are made up into a herbal tea by adding hot water (written instructions on how to prepare this and when to take it will be provided). CHM is well known for being strong tasting and it may take you a few days to get used to the taste. This is normal and again your CHM practitioner can advise you on how to make the herbs a little more palatable if required.
Are there any side effects from CHM?
In CHM it is known that the herbs can cause some mild digestive upset like transient nausea or loose bowels. However these usually only last for 2-3 days and generally the herbs are well tolerated. If you have any concerns about your treatment with Chinese herbs then please contact your herbal practitioner.
1 – Yang Y, Islam S, Wang J et al 2020. Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): A Review and Perspective. Int J Biol Sci 2020, 16(10): pp1708-1717
2 – Lau J, Leung P, Wong E et al 2005. The Use of an Herbal Formula by Hospital Care Workers During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Epidemic in Hong Kong to Prevent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Transmission, Relieve Influenza-Related Symptoms, and Improve Quality of Life: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Alt & Comp Med, 11 (1): pp45-49.
3 – Yang Y, Islam M, Wang J et al 2020. Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): A Review and Perspective. Int J. Bio. Sci.,16(10): pp1708-1717.
4 – Ho T, Wu s, Jaw-Chyun C 2007. Emodin blocks the SARS coronavirus spike protein an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 interaction. Antiviral Research 74, 92–101.
5 – Ho T, Wu s, Jaw-Chyun C 2007. Emodin blocks the SARS coronavirus spike protein an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 interaction. Antiviral Research 74, 92–101.
6 – Zhu P 1998. Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Applications. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam.