Traditional Chinese Medicine Used in United States Against COVID-19
Cold and flu season has been active in the United States and it has kept Joe Brady busy. He is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner who uses acupuncture extensively in his work.
“With the needles I can help the patient feel better,” Brady said before a session. “I can relieve their symptoms, but there is still a virus present.”
This is where he said that herbs like banlangen, which has long been touted for its antiviral properties, come in.
“Here in my clinic, and in TCM in general for several thousand years, they have found that herbs work quite well for average colds and flu,” Brady said.
Herbal remedies have a rich history in countries like China. They are widely relied on to help relieve symptoms of the disease and strengthen people’s immune systems. Experts say herbs have been a treasure trove for modern medicine.
“Among them, we have developed new drugs like the malaria drugs for which the Nobel Prize was awarded to a Chinese scientist several years ago,” said David Kroll, professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy in the University of Colorado.
Now, herbal medicines derived from plants, flowers and dried fruits have assumed a key role in the fight against COVID-19, alongside standard Western approaches. Brady approves of the idea.
“We currently don’t have any good antivirals that are effective against this coronavirus, so the Chinese are taking a throw-in-the-kitchen approach and using whatever antiviral herbs they have in the hopes of finding one that will work.” , did he declare.
Traditional Chinese medicine remains a foreign concept to many in the West. Some put it in the same category as snake oil. Herbs have not been subjected to the kind of clinical trials that Western drugs have.
“Just trying any traditional medicine that is potentially available is probably not the wisest thing to do,” Kroll said, adding that treatments for coronaviruses should be chosen with care.
“Just using anything and everything against it can cause side effects that are worse than the disease itself or things that can complicate the disease and make it worse,” he said.
“If they can isolate one or two of these herbs that seem to be more effective, it will give scientists the opportunity to find out what the active ingredient was,” Brady said.
He pointed out that the herbs showed positive results in fighting the SARS coronavirus in 2002 and 2003, but he freely admitted that more studies needed to be done. A number of trials are currently underway in China.
“Putting more money into research, I’d be happy to,” Brady said.
In the meantime, he added, Western medicine can help patients like traditional Chinese medicine cannot.
“It’s handy for the Western style, being able to stick a needle in his arm and force the fluids in with an IV,” Brady said.
Both styles of medicine have a role to play, he argued, as doctors and scientists work overtime to try to bring this very serious disease under control.