Chinese Medicine and infectious disease

Many of our patients are worried about catching colds and flus this autumn and winter.

The fact is, many of us will experience upper respiratory infections this season, and in most cases it will just be the common garden variety cold. Vaccines for this season’s flu are becoming available which will help to reduce the flu incidence.

Boosting ones resilience and immune system is the first and best strategy to maintaining health throughout autumn and winter. Getting enough sleep, eating well, trying not to get too stressed are all a good start. Additionally there are supplements and herbs which may help in this regard.

We are asking any patients who feel unwell, for example with a sore throat, fever, malaise etc to call their doctors and call us too.

Chinese medicine has many different herbal formulas which may be able to address URTI symptoms if applied in a timely manner. There is no cure for the flu, or the common cold or for other corona viruses. But in some cases the associated symptoms can be lessened and the severity and the duration of the illness reduced.


Here is what Chinese medicine has to say about epidemic disease …..

According to the traditional theory of Wen Bing disease, infectious respiratory diseases can be divided into four stages:

– fever and malaise

– cough and other upper respiratory tract symptoms

– fever and chills

– other more serious lung symptoms like pneumonia, or sepsis.

There are many different time tested formulas available that may be taken during the early stage of any respiratory illness – in tea or pill form. We make no claims to their proven effectiveness in clinical trials but the formulas are safe and from reputable sources.

Latter stages of Wen Bing disease indicate that the disease has penetrated deeper into the lungs and require stronger formulas and will in some cases require hospitalization.

This is what they did in China during the CoVid19 epidemic

What about CoVid19 itself?

The internet is awash with supposed CoVid19 cures or treatment suggestions – ALL of them unproven.

There is no currently recommended pharmaceutical treatment for CoVid19 although trials are being carried out to examine the effect of some anti viral medications and malarial drugs.

Epidemics of infectious disease are not new, and Chinese medicine has a very long history of treating such diseases with herbal medicines.  Some of this experience was formalized in texts in the 16th century in the “Theory of Epidemic Disease”, and then expanded in the 18th Century by physicians of the “Wen Bing” (or Warm Disease) school.

Historically these doctors had no antibiotics or antiviral medications at their disposal so they used what they had on hand, a large pharmacopeia of herbs – and they formulated Chinese herbal formulas to fit the symptom picture they were seeing.

Chinese herbal treatment of infectious epidemic disease may not have been the subject of sufficient large randomized controlled clinical trials and hence no claims can be made as to its effectiveness at this time.

What can be said is that it has been tested by time and by millions of patients, and has been seen to be safe and without dangerous side effects.

This is one of the reasons that tens of millions of the Chinese population took Chinese herbs during the SARS epidemic of 2003 and the Swine flu epidemic of 2009.

And again Chinese herbal medicine has been used extensively in China during the current Corona Virus pandemic – being given to more than 85% of CoVid19 patients in hospitals across China. Teams of Chinese doctors have taken these formulas to other badly affected countries such as Iran and Italy.

While we as Chinese medicine practitioners are not front line in hospitals treating infectious CoVid19 cases in this country (unlike in China where TCM doctors worked alongside WM trained doctors), Chinese herbal medicine can still have a place in contributing to management of symptoms in the early stages in patients in this country.

Our health care system officials are asking all patients with CoVid 19 to stay at home and be cared for there unless they become seriously unwell. If there is anything Chinese medicine can offer to these patients to prevent more hospital admissions we feel it is important to extend this support…….at the same time, we urge patients to get medical and hospital attention if they are concerned.

The last thing we want to do is sit on our hands and self isolate in front of Net Flix when we could be helping taking pressure off other parts of our dangerously overloaded health system.

Herbs were prescribed for at risk communities in China generally and in Chinese hospitals for health workers and patients specifically.

They started with protection for all asymptomatic people, then graded strength formulas for patients according to their symptoms and stage of the disease.

Please call us if you are wanting to know more about these Chinese herbal formulas.