FDA approves traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of Covid-19

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The Food and Drug Administration last August approved a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) called Lianhua Qingwen, offering a silver lining in the fight against the dreaded Covid-19 virus, at least for patients with mild or moderate symptoms.

FDA approval makes Lianhua Qingwen the first TCM to be registered as a herbal product traditionally used in the Philippines. Lianhua Qingwen, widely used in China as part of its standard Covid-19 treatments, was officially launched in the local market thanks to the partnership between Yiling Pharmaceutical and its exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corp.

Dr Philip Tan-Gatue, medical director of Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corp. and UP College of Medicine faculty member said TCM has been able to deal with many everyday problems. “There is a saying of friends in China that if you get hit by a car go to the emergency room of a Western medicine hospital, but for muscle pain, cramps or sniffles go to a Chinese doctor. “, did he declare.

What is Lianhua Qingwen?

Lianhua Qingwen capsule is part of China’s standard treatment for Covid-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms.

The results of a prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter clinical study on the treatment of Covid-19 with Lianhua Qingwen capsules, on which Chinese academics Zhong Nanshan, Li Lanjuan and Zhang Boli and other experts worked with more of 20 hospitals, have been Posted in Phytomedicine, the high impact journal in the field of international herbal medicine.

The study determined that in terms of clinical use, Lianhua Qingwen was shown to be both safe and effective in treating Covid-19 in conjunction with conventional therapy as it could significantly alleviate clinical symptoms of Covid- 19 such as fever, debilitation and cough, greatly improve lung damage, shorten the duration of symptoms, and increase the rate of clinical recovery.

The challenge for TCM in the country

Olivia Limpe-Aw, president of Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corp., said the introduction of the drug into the country presented many challenges. Besides the usual documentation procedures for registration, this happened during a pandemic. However, the biggest hurdle they had to overcome was that, besides the first-of-its-kind product, the country’s orientation is still very much oriented towards Western medicine.

“That’s why we had Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue, who understands both TCM and Western medicine so we can better explain it to a market that has virtually no knowledge of TCM,” said noted Limpe-Aw.

“It was a lot of hard work, patience and learning to be able to comply, but it was also a great feeling to be able to do something that can help the country.”

Breaking the stigma of TCM

Part of the skepticism about TCM, explains Dr Tan-Gatue, is that many don’t know who to believe because there are so many claims about TCM. “I think the stigma can be broken with the right information as long as we see it working and being properly documented.”

TCM, explains Dr Tan-Gatue, is a complete medical system, has its own theories on health, pathology, diagnosis and treatment, with various modalities such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, manual manipulation, breathing exercises. Chinese herbal formulas are those where herbs are rarely used on their own. Most of the time, they are combined to make a more potent formula and where each herb has a role.

“That’s the beauty of Chinese herbs and it has been studied extensively over the years at the molecular, pharmacological and clinical level. TCM and Western medicine can complement each other. Knowing the mechanisms of old formulas allows us to adapt them to modern use and to new diseases. Lianhua Qingwen capsules have been formulated from famous prescriptions from three different eras in Chinese history, so the history of success is there and has also been studied at the molecular, pharmacological and clinical level where it has shown potential. in the treatment of mild to moderate symptoms of Covid 19. “

The future of TCM in the Philippines

Dr Tan-Gatue said traditional Chinese medicine thrives because it works, it’s not frozen in the habit. In TCM there is always adaptation, evolution and new medicinal substances discovered in other countries.

Perhaps another reason why it thrives, according to Limpe-Aw, is due to its price, such as for Lianhua Qingwen where the suggested retail price is P288 per box and the recommended dosage is seven days and around three to four boxes are needed, that’s practically less than P1000 and it works. “It’s really affordable and it’s also one of the reasons TCM is flourishing, besides constantly innovating, trying to find new ingredients, making drugs better and more effective than people.” can afford. “

Limpe-Aw, however, has warned the public against buying Lianhua Qingwen from questionable sources. The drug will be available from South Star Drug, soon from Watsons and Mercury Drug, but only at S3 licensed branches since the drug is still classified as a dangerous drug by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and should be prescribed by a licensed physician. S3. Licence.


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