The Role of Chinese Medicine Playing in the Prevention and Treatment of Covid 19 Infection in China

The pandemic of Covid 19 viral pneumonia has been exploded in China for more than three to four months. Now the number of the infection case has been gradually coming down and the whole country of China is starting to return to normal live. During this period, in fighting the pandemic Chinese medicine has played a very positive role. This page I will introducing the clinically effective Chinese medicinal remedies. It may help people to protect themselves and encouraging them to overcome this pandemic.


In the Chinese history, whenever a plague is rampant, Chinese medicine practitioners are always on the front lines to battle the diseases. Many survived with the help of Chinese Medicine; so in this fight with the insidious and novel Coronavirus, Chinese Medicine once again should take a primary role in effective treatment and must not be absent in action!

How COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) is Currently Treated in China with TCM

Compiled, Translated and Edited by John K. Chen, Pharm.D., PhD., OMD, LAc and Lori Hsu, MTOM, MS Editors: Michael Norris, L.Ac., C.H., Debra Nash-Galpern, L.A.c, Donna Chow, L.Ac., DiplOM

Disclaimer: This article is compiled, translated and edited by John K. Chen and Lori Hsu from three references to inform the readers how COVID-19, the 2019 novel coronavirus, is currently treated in China. For readers who may have such an infection, contact and consult your primary physician, go to the hospital or the CDC immediately. For additional information, please contact the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With Wuhan on Lockdown for More Than 10 days, the Chinese Government Announces a Major Change in Strategy: All Patients with Cononavirus Infections are to Use Chinese medicine. 2/10/2020

The Medical Treatment Unit of Wuhan’s Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), currently named COVID-19, Prevention and Control Headquarters issued a “Notice Regarding the Agreement to Recommend the Use of Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Pneumonia due to Infection from the Novel Coronavirus”. The “Notice” emphasizes that all designated medical institutions in Wuhan will ensure that all infected patients take Chinese medicine (Chinese medicine decoction or granules) before midnight (24:00) on February 3, 2020.

A collaboration between Western and Chinese medicine is undoubtedly welcoming news, especially now as the results from the front lines in Wuhan have been very promising. See below for more.

1/29/20 The second dispatch of support from the central government to the Hubei Chinese Medicine Treatment team took over the newly created isolation ward for pneumonia patients infected by the 2019-nCoV in the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine. It is the only medical facility in the Hubei Province that is managed entirely under the supervision of the China’s Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), TCM system, providing a central point responsible for determining diagnosis and treatment.

The following is reported in the patient wards under the responsibility of Guandong Provincial TCM Hospital:

Patient Rounds: The severity of patient conditions was unexpected, and the entire ward was more or less quiet as these patients were so weak, that it seemed that they did not even have the energy to moan. Most of the patients treated were urgently, critically, or severely ill. Many of them had a high fever, a thick tongue coating, slippery and wiry pulses, bowel incontinence, and little to no expression on their faces (perhaps from extreme fatigue?).

1/30/20 Herbal formulas were administered to patients according to the individual’s TCM pattern diagnoses, as prescribed by Guandong’s experts.

2/1/20 Patient Rounds: Some patients’ fever has been reduced. There were more patients with low-grade fever. By and large, tongue coatings changed from thick and greasy to thin, and patient stools were more formed. Furthermore, these patients now had the energy to speak for up to five sentences before the onset of mild wheezing. Also, in general coughing was significantly less compare to before. Patients’ self-reported conditions have improved quite a bit. Patients can now sit up and practice the qigong exercise, Eight Brocade in bed and/or meditate.

As of 2/4/20: Nearly fifty patients in the ward have clearly improved. The effectiveness of Chinese herbal treatments are being actively observed and witnessed in this clinical setting.

Caption, for the first time, eight patients treated with traditional Chinese medicine or a combination of traditional Chinese and western medicines were discharged from hospital.

1/28/20, Dr. Huang Luqi, the chair of the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, led the medical team of Guang’anmen Hospital and Beijing Xiyuan Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences to support Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. Chinese medicine combined with Western medicine, treatment by syndrome differentiation, greatly improved the patients’ breathing issues, fatigue, dry mouth, bitterness, chest tightness, diarrhea and other symptoms.

2/3/20 Eight confirmed patients were discharged from Southern Building of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. This represents the firs group of patients who were discharged from a hospital using traditional Chinese medicine or a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Amongst them, six were female, two were male. Of these, six were severe and two were mild cases. The age range of the patients was from twenty-six to sixty-eight. After treatment with traditional Chinese medicine and herbs, most patients had obviously improved symptoms and an overall improved mental state. At the time of discharge, each patient was sent home with a two-week dose of Chinese herbs along with instructions on appropriate exercise and proper diet in order to gain full recovery.

Please share this article and the herbal prescriptions with everyone.

In the fight of the pandemic of pneumonia from 2019-nCoV Novel coronavirus infection, Hubai Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine diligently used the specialty of TCM, in corporation of relevant departments to study and formulate pneumonia prevention and treatment programs revealing that Chinese herbs played a definitive role in positive outcomes. Chinese herbal formulas harbor the unique potential to reduce fever and cough symptoms, limit disease progression, and improve overall immunity, and thus a person’s ability to mount an essential immune response to the virus.

The following are the recommended formulas, acupuncture and moxibustion protocols for prevention and treatment of Coronavirus according to TCM experts. Please note, the following formulas are not to be used in place of Western medicine rather they are to be integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan utilizing both Western and Chinese medicine to ensure optimal patient outcomes. Furthermore, patients are advised not to self-treat or use the formulas blindly, but rather to consult with licensed medical practitioners to ensure optimal treatment on a case by case basis.

Prevention Phase (预防期):

Formula: Pneumonia Prevention #1肺炎预防一号

黄芪Huang Qi (Astragali Radix), 15g

白术Bai Zhu (Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma), dry fried 10g

防风Fang Feng (Alismatis Rhizoma, Radix Saposhnikoviae), 10g

贯仲Mian Ma Guan Zhong (Dryopteris crassi rhizoma ), 10g

金银花Jin Yin Hua (Lonicerae Flos), 10g

陈皮Chen Pi (Citri Pericarpium), 6g

佩兰Pe Lan (Herba Eupatorii), 10g

Suitable for prevention of pneumonia due to viral infections and the flu.

Acupuncture Treatment for suspected cases: The purpose is to strengthen the immune system, to help alleviate early symptoms, and to shorten the duration of the virus infection.

Points: Bilateral 足三里Zusanli (ST 36),  气海Qihai (CV 6),  中宛Zhongwan (CV 12)

Method and Frequency:

 Moxa Zusanli (ST 36) on both sides for 15 minutes. Moxa Qihai (CV 6) or Zhongwan (CV 12) for 10 minutes. (alternating from treatment to treatment). Twice a day, once in the afternoon and once at night.

Influenzas Phase: 流感期

Diagnosis: Wind-Cold Invading the Exterior 风寒袭表证

Clinical Manifestations: Onset of fever (mostly low-grade fever), aversion to cold and fear of cold, chills, headache, ticklish throat, soreness of muscles of limbs, no sweat or night sweats.

Examination: Lung CT negative. Tongue is pale, coating is white and thin. Floating pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Expel Wind, Release the Exterior; Clear Heat, Detoxify

Herbal Formula: 葛根汤或柴胡解肌汤 (Ge Gen Tang (Kudzu Decoction) or Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang (Bupurium and Kudzu Decoction) to release the muscle layer)

Flu Formula #1 流感 1 号

 葛根Ge Gan (Radix Puerariae Lobatae) 15g

 麻黄Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) 10g 

桂枝Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi) 6g 

白芍Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Alba) 15g

生姜 Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) 10g 

甘草Gan Cao (Radix et Rhizoma Glycyrrhizae) 10g

大枣Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae) 10g

金银花Jin Yin Hua (Lonicerae Flos), 20g

with headache, add 白芍Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) 15g;  with dry or ticklish throat, add 射干She Gan (Rhizoma Belamcandae) 15g

Other possible formulas to consider: 藿香正气散Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San

Diagnosis: Toxic Heat Attacking the Lung 热毒袭肺症

Clinical Manifestations: Fever, aversion to cold, sore and dry throat, dry cough, scanty sputum, sore and painful muscles in the limbs, weakness, and headache.

Examination:CT scan reveals both lungs to have scattered ground-glass opacity (GGO). Tip and sides of the tongue are red; thin white or yellow tongue coating. Floating and rapid pulse.

Treatment Strategy:Expel Wind, Release the Exterior; Clear Heat, Detoxify

Herbal Formula: 银翘散加清瘟败毒散加减(Yin Qiao San (Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder) and Qing Wen Bai Du San (Clear Epidemics and Overcome Pathogenic Influences Powder) modified)

Flu Formula #2 流感 2 号

金银花Jin Yin Hua (Lonicerae Flos), 10g

连翘Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae),10g

荆芥Jing Jie (Herba Schizoneptae),10g

牛蒡子Niu Bang Zi (Fructus Arctii), 10g

薄荷Bo He HerbalMenthae,10g

甘草 Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis),  10g

淡竹叶Dan Zhu Ye (Herba Lophathen),10g

芦根Lu Gen (Rhizoma Phragmitis), 15g

黄连 Huang Lian (Coptis chinensis Franch), 6g

Diagnosis: Damp Cold in the Lung   湿寒郁肺症

Clinical Manifestations: Aversion to cold, fever or absence of fever, dry cough, dry tongue, white greasy coating, slippery pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Expel Wind, Release the Exterior; Dispel Damp Cold.

Herbal Formula: Damp Cold Formula #1

苍术Cang Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis) 15g

陈皮Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae) 10g

厚朴Hou po (Herba Pogostemonis seu Agastaches) 10g ‡

藿香 Huo Xiang (Herba Pogostemonis seu Agastaches) 10g

草果Cao Guo (Fructus Tsaoko) 6g

麻黄Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) 6g ‡

羌活 Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii) 10g ‡

生姜 Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) 10g ‡

槟榔 Bing lang (Semen Arecae) 10g

Acupuncture Treatment for Mild and Moderate Cases: The purpose is to reduce the severity of symptoms, shorten the duration, and alleviate emotional burden.

Points: Bilateral Hegu (LI 4), Taichong (LR 3), Zhusanli (ST 36), Shenque (CV 8)

Method and Frequecy: Moxa Hgu (LI 4) and  (Taichong LR 3) bilaterally for 15 minutes. Moxa Zhusanli (ST 36) bilaterally for 10 minutes. Moxa Shenque (CV 8) with a moxa box for 15 minutes.

Twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Pneumonia Stage 肺炎期

Diagnosis: Shaoyang Syndrome with Damp,少阳夹湿证

Clinical Manifestations: Fever, which is more pronounced in the afternoon, alternating chills with fever, cough, absence of wheezing, bitter taste in the mouth, dry mouth, chest stuffiness, stifling sensation, chest and hypochondriac fullness and distention, irritability, nausea or vomiting, no appetite, weakness. It is similar to the beginning stage of pneumonia.

Examination: CT scan reveals both lungs to have multiple scattered or large pieces of ground-glass opacity (GGO). Slightly red tongue, thick and greasy, white or yellow coating, slippery, rapid pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Harmonize Shaoyang Syndrome, Clear Damp-Heat.

Herbal Formula:  小柴胡汤 (Minor Bupleurum Decoction) with 三仁汤 (Three-Nut Decoction) or 甘露消毒丹 (Sweet Dew Special Pill to Eliminate Toxin)

Pneumonia Formula #1 肺炎一号

柴胡 Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri) 24g 

黄芩Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) 9g 

生姜 Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) 10g

法半夏 Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae) 12g

苦杏仁 Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae Amarum) 15g

白豆蔻 Bai Dou Kou (Fructus Amomi Rotundus) 10g

薏苡仁 Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis) 30g

淡竹叶 Dan Zhu Ye (Herba Lophatheri) 15g

滑石 Hua Shi (Talcum) 15g

土伏苓 Tu Fu Ling Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae 30g

生甘草Gan Cao (Radix et Rhizoma Glycyrrhizae) 10g

Diagnosis: Damp Heat Afflicting the Lung.  湿热郁肺症

Clinical Manifestations: Low-grade fever or absence of fever, dry cough, scanty sputum, dry or sore throat, fatigue, weakness poor appetite, chest stuffiness, epigastric distention, nausea or vomiting, loose stool.

Examination: CT scan reveals both lungs to have multiple scattered or large pieces of ground-glass opacity (GGO). Pale or pink, puffy tongue with teeth marks. White or greasy white coating tongue. Soft or slippery pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Transform Dampness, Detoxify, Disperse the Lungs and Expel Pathogens

Herbal Formula: 麻杏薏甘汤 (Ma Xing Yi Gan Tang (Ephedra, Apricot Kernel and Licorice Decoction)), 小陷胸汤 (Xiao Xian Xiong Tang(Minor Sinking into Chest Decoction) ),草果知母汤(Cao Guo Zhi Mu Tang (Tsaoko and Anemarrhena Decoction) )

Pneumonia Formula #2 肺炎二号

麻黄  Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) 10g

苦杏仁 Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae Amarum) 10g

薏苡仁 Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis) 30g

黄连 Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) 6g

法半夏 Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae) 10g

瓜樓皮Gua Lou (Pericarpium Trichosanthis) 10g

草果 Cao Guo (Fructus Tsaoko) 10g

知母 Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae) 10g

鱼腥草 Yu Xing Cao (Houttuyniae Herba) 15g

生甘草Gan Cao (Radix et Rhizoma Glycyrrhizae) 10g

白豆蔻 Bai Dou Kou (Fructus Amomi Rotundus) 9g

Diagnosis: Toxic Stagnation Obstructing the Lung 毒瘀雍肺证

Clinical Manifestations: Cough, stifling sensation, stuffiness and distention in the chest, asthma and wheezing that worsens with exertion, accelerated respiration, thirst, irritability, reddish yellow urine.

Examination: CT scan reveals both lungs to have multiple scattered or large pieces of ground-glass opacity (GGO). Fibrotic changes of the lung are also visible. Dark purplish tongue, yellow dry tongue coating or thick and greasy yellow coating, rapid, slippery pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Detoxify, Arrest Wheezing; Transform Blood Stasis and Open Collaterals Herbal Formula: 白虎加人参唐合 四土汤 Bai Hu Jia Ren Shen Tang (White Tiger Plus Ginseng Decoction) with Si Tu Tang (Four Wild Decoction)

Pneumonia Formula #3 肺炎 3 号

石膏Shi Gao (Gypsum firbrosum) 30g

知母 Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae) 10g

山药Shan Yao (Dioscoreae Batatis) Rhizoma15g

西洋参 Xi Yang Shen ((Panacis Quinquefolii Radix) 5g

土伏苓 Tu Fu Ling Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae 30g

土大黄Da Huang (Rhei Rhizoma) 30g

土贝母 Tu Bei Mu (Rhizoma Bolbostimmatis) 10g

土牛膝 Tu Niu Xi (Achyranthis Radix) 10g

苏木 Su Mu (Lignum Sappan),10g

土鳖虫 Tu Bie Chong (Eupolyphaga sinensis) 10g

桔络 Just Luo (Vascular Citri Reticulatae) 15g

莱菔子 Lai Fu Zi (Semen Raphani) 20g

葶苈子Ting Li Zi (Semen lepidii) 20g

丝瓜络Gua Luo (Fructus trichosanthis), 30g

Severe Pneumonia

Diagnosis: Closed Interior and Abandoned Exterior Syndrome 内闭外脱证

Clinical Manifestations: Mental incoherence, irritability, burning or heat sensation in the chest and abdomen, cold extremities, accelerated respiration and need for assisted breathing,scarlet purple tongue, dry yellow or yellowish brown coating, floating, forceful pulse that is empty in the deep level, or rootless.

Treatment Strategy: Open the Closed, Consolidate the Abandoned, Detoxify, Rescue Reversal

Herbal Formula: 四逆加人参汤,送服安宫牛黄丸,紫雪散 (Si Ni Jia Ren Shen Tang (Frigid Extremities Decoctiion plus Ginseng)) taken with 安宫牛黄丸An Gong Niu Huang Wan (Calm the Palace Pill with Cattle Gallstone) and 紫雪散Zi Xue San (Purple Snow Powder)

Pneumonia Formula #4 肺炎4 号

人参 Ren Shen (Ginseng Radix) 10g

制附子 Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti lateralis   preparata)  10g

Serve with An Gong Niu Huang Wan (Calm the Palace Pill with Cattle Gallstone) and Zi Xue San (Purple Snow Powder).

Recovery Phase: 恢复期

Clinical Manifestations: Absence of fever, dry cough, chest stuffiness, shortness of breath, shortness of breath upon exertion, dry mouth, weakness.

Examination: CT reveals inflammation begins to subside as well as pulmonary interstitial changes. Pale red tongue, thick or greasy coating, thread, rapid pulse.

Treatment Strategy: Tonify Qi, Nourish Yin, Tonify Lung and Open the Collaterals

Herbal Formula: 沙参麦冬汤Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang (Glehnia and Ophiopogonis Decetion)

Pneumonia Formula #5 肺炎5 号

沙参 Sha Shen (Radix Glehniae seu Adenophorae) 15g

麦冬 Mai Don (Radix Ophiopogonis) 15g

五味子 Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis) 15g

人参 Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng) 12g

莱菔子 Lai Fu Zi (Semen Raphani) 15g

丝瓜络 Si Gua Luo (Retinervus Luffae Fructus) 15g 

橘络 Ju Luo (Vascular Citri Reticulatae) 15g 

苏子 Su Zi (Fructus Perillae) 12g

浙贝母 Zhe Bei Mu (Bulbus Fritillariae Thunbergii) 12g

 杏仁 Ku Xin Ren (Semen Armeniacae Amarum) 12g 

黄芩Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) 15g 

生 甘草 Sheng Gan Cao (Radix et Rhizoma Glycyrrhizae) 10g

Acupuncture Treatment for Recovery Phase

The Purpose is restoring Lung and Spleen functions and the body’s Zheng (upright) Qi. Points: Bilateral 大椎Dazhui (GV 14), 膈腧Geshu (BL 17), 肺腧Feishu (BL 13), 足三里Zu San Li (ST 36) or 孔最 Kongzui (LU 6).   

Moxa all points for 15 minutes.

Once a day.

History and experience prove that Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective against epidemic diseases.

From the Western Han Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty, at least 321 large-scale plagues occurred in China. Chinese medicine has served to wage life-and-death battles against various plague consistently through time and has successfully contained the spread of epidemics in a limited area and time. There has never been a similar tragedy in China’s history, such as the Spanish flu or the Black Death in Europe. These are examples of global plagues that killed tens of millions of people.

In the Chinese history, whenever a plague is rampant, Chinese medicine practitioners are always on the front lines to battle the diseases. Many survived with the help of Chinese Medicine; so in this fight with the insidious and novel Coronavirus, Chinese Medicine once again should take a primary role in effective treatment and must not be absent in action!

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