Local Acupuncturist Shares

How Chinese Medicine Beats COVID-19

By Crystal Tai, Patch Contributor
Mar 4, 2020 2:25 pm PT

Chinese herbal medicine has played a key role in a recovery rate of 88 percent in China's Zhejiang Province, according to Dr. Ching Chi, Five Branches University professor with years of clinical and teaching experience in traditional Chinese medicine as well as close connections with Chinese medicine practitioners in China.


During her lecture at Five Branches University on Monday, Dr. Chi cited a Johns Hopkins University statistical report on confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China's Zhejiang Province.


According to the report, Zhejiang had 1,206 confirmed cases that were treated with integrative medicine, and 1,069 (about 88 percent) of them recovered by March 2. Only one death was reported.

The involvement of Chinese herbal medicine in Zhejiang was 90 percent, which is currently standard practice in China except in the epicenter, the city of Wuhan, where 75 percent of patients received Chinese herbal medicine, according to official documents released by the Chinese government.













Dr. Chi noted that there are five standard herbal formulas in China to combat the novel coronavirus in five stages. She said Chinese medicine practitioners in different provinces of China would modify these herbal formulas based on local weather conditions.


Dr. Chi also explained how traditional Chinese medicine is integrated with Western medicine in China to fight the novel coronavirus.


"According to a recent report, about 81 percent of the patients with negative RT-PCR results but positive CT scans were re-classified by the comprehensive analysis of clinical symptoms, typical CT manifestations and dynamic CT follow-ups," said Dr. Chi. "So, in China, they already started using CT scans as a major screening test for coronavirus."


Dr. Chi noted that the areas of the lungs infected with the novel coronavirus are usually posterior and peripheral, as shown on CT scans.


With help from Western medical technology, Chinese medicine practitioners will still look at each patient's tongue, which they believe reflects the patient's health conditions based on traditional Chinese medical theories.


"COVID-19 patients present with greasy white tongues, some with teeth marks," said Chi. "The teeth marks indicate qi (inner energy) deficiency. The white coating is from dampness and phlegm."


From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, COVID-19 causes heat, dampness and qi deficiency in the body. Since traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes prevention and early intervention, Dr. Chi advised her peers in the audience to observe whether patients in their clinics for other health problems have the above-mentioned issues.


Dr. Chi also pointed out the most common symptoms of early stage COVID-19 patients: dry cough, fever, and extreme fatigue. She said it usually takes five days from the patient's first symptom to shortness of breath, seven days from the patient's first symptom to hospitalization, and eight days from the patient's first symptom to acute respiratory distress syndrome.


"The disease moves really fast, so we have to intervene early. For prevention or early intervention, we can use acupuncture to clear heat and relieve dampness from the body," Dr. Chi said.


While acupuncture takes center stage in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine in the US, TCM practitioners rely more on herbs in China. For her peers' reference, Dr. Chi presented the five standard herbal formulas for treating COVID-19 in China but cautioned against using them without modifications in the US, as the herbal formulas must be adjusted to fit in with local weather.


The five herbal formulas are:

  1. Yu Ping Feng San and moxibustion for 10 minutes per day for prevention in those who present with qi deficiency and perhaps a little dry cough;

  2. Jing Fang Bai Du San for those with mild symptoms of COVID-19;

  3. Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang and Qian Jin Wei Jin Tang for patients with COVID-19-induced pneumonia;

  4. Ren Shen Bai Hu Tang and Ting Li Xie Fei Tang for COVID-19-induced pneumonia patients with high fever;

  5. IV injections of Shen Fu Tang for patients in critical condition, usually on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).


According to Dr. Chi, Chinese herbal medicine works very well for COVID-19 patients in a so-called "Fangcang Hospital" in the Jiangxia District of Wuhan, China, which only treats mild cases. She said patients are recovering rapidly in that one Fangcang Hospital (among multiple Fangcang Hospitals), quoting a news report dated Feb 19, in which an expert in Respiratory Medicine, Wang Chen, said that none of the 400 patients became sicker and 50 of them completely recovered.


Dr. Chi said she is waiting for more data on the effectiveness of Chinese herbal formulas to come out to prove that Chinese medicine can cure COVID-19 patients.


"Then we will get more opportunities of treating epidemic diseases, instead of just treating aches and pains," she said.


According to Dr. Chi, there have been at least 256 epidemic outbreaks in China since the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), and there was no Western medicine in China prior to the 20th century.


"For centuries, we only used Chinese herbs to prevent and fight epidemic diseases. So, we are actually very experienced," Dr. Chi said.


Dr. Chi owns and runs an acupuncture clinic in Sunnyvale.


For Dr. Chi's entire speech, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c--IvXpJZ1Y 

Dr. Ching Chi gives a lecture on the effects of Chinese medicine on coronavirus patients in China, showing a picture of a patient's tongue in a slide, as the tongue reflects the patient's health conditions based on traditional Chinese medical theories. (Crystal Tai/Patch)

A slide of Dr. Ching Chi's lecture (Crystal Tai/Patch)