Acupuncture Continuing Education

Chinese Herbal Medicine For COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Treatment

Herbs and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Findings

Acupuncturists trained in Chinese herbal medicine have provided treatment for COVID-19 patients with important results. This article presents current COVID-19 research on herbal medicine and general COVID-19 information. Let’s take a look at the results currently available.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus affecting humans and was officially identified in 2019. The terms coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), 2019 novel coronavirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) all refer to the same virus. SARS-CoV-2 is the term used by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). SARS-CoV-2 was selected, in part, because the virus has similarities to the SARS outbreak of 2003. COVID-19 is the term developed by the World Health Organization.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, they can be transmitted between animals and people. Signs and symptoms typically occur between 2–14 days after exposure and include respiratory disorders, coughing, fever, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips, and difficulty breathing. Potentially fatal complications include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and sepsis. High risk individuals include the elderly and people with heart and lung disease, asthma, low CD4 counts (including some HIV patients), or diabetes.

Preventative recommendations include social distancing, hand washing, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and thoroughly cooking both meat and eggs. It is recommended to avoid touching the mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands and to clean and disinfect surfaces. Chlorine and alcohol based disinfectants, along with other EPA-registered disinfectants, are currently recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA).

According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA), COVID-19 "is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces." The data from the NIH is from the CDC, UCLA, and Princeton University. The following is the official data, SARS-CoV-2 is detectable:

  • 3 hours in aerosols
  • 4 hours on copper
  • 24 hours on cardboard
  • 2–3 days on plastic and stainless steel

COVID-19 is identified with an initial outbreak in Wuhan (China) in December 2019. On January 29th of 2019, the National TCM Rescue Team (China) intervened at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. After five days, eight patients afflicted with COVID-19 were discharged after treatment with Chinese medicine. Of these eight individuals, six had been critically ill prior to administration of traditional Chinese medicine. [2] Chinese medicine had been used in similar conditions in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, with documented clinical successes. [3] Despite initial clinical successes and promising research, the cure rate for COVID-19 remains difficult to achieve and, even with integrative medicine available, remains an extremely dangerous contagion.

According to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM), the herbal formula Qing Fei Pai Du Tang had a 90% response rate out of a total of 214 clinical cases of COVID-19 related pneumonia. [4] Patients were treated in Shanxi, Hebei, Shanxi, and Heilongjiang Provinces in this clinical investigation. A breakdown of the 90% response rate is as follows: symptoms markedly improved in ≥60% and the remaining 30% of patients stabilized. [5]

Another investigation tracked 701 COVID-19 patients across 10 Chinese provinces that were treated with Qing Fei Pai Du Tang. A total of 130 patients (18.5%) were cured, symptoms including fever and coughing completely resolved in an additional 51 patients (7.27%), symptom improvements occurred in an additional 268 patients (38.2%), and stabilization occurred in 212 patients (30.2%). [6] In related findings from two additional studies, Lian Hua Qing Wen Capsule helped resolve COVID-19 symptoms and promoted recovery. [7, 8]

According to Du Hong-Zhi et al., Chinese medicine physicians adjust specific treatments based on differential diagnostics dependent upon the stage of pneumonia presenting at Chinese hospitals. Although Qing Fei Pai Du Tang is recommended by the NATCM, treatment protocols vary according to diagnostic considerations across clinics throughout China.

Qing Fei Pai Du Tang is based on 21 herbs from 4 different herbal formulas, originally found in the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Diseases). This Han dynasty clinical textbook was compiled by Zhang Zhongjing prior to 220 CE. The four formulas that form the basis of Qing Fei Pai Du Tang are Wu Ling San, She Gan Ma Huang Tang, Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang, and Xiao Chai Hu Tang. The herbs in Qing Fei Pai Du Tang are the following:

  • Ma Huang 9g
  • Zhi Gan Cao 6g
  • Bai Zhu 9g
  • Shan Yao 12g
  • Ku Xing Ren 9g
  • Shi Gao 15-30g
  • Gui Zhi 9g
  • Ze Xie 9g
  • Zhu Ling 9g
  • Fu Ling 15g
  • Huo Xiang 9g
  • Chai Hu 16g
  • Huang Qin 6g
  • Jiang Ban Xia 9g
  • Zi Wan 9g
  • Sheng Jiang 9g
  • Kuan Dong Hua 9g
  • She Gan 9g
  • Xi Xin 6g
  • Zhi Shi 6g
  • Chen Pi 6g

This herbal formula is unavailable in the USA because the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has severe restrictions on the sale of Ma Huang and has made Xi Xin a banned herb. Xi Xin is a type of wild ginger that is toxic and must only be used by licensed acupuncturists trained in proper usage. For well over a thousand years, this herb has been safely used in Chinese herbal medicines by highly trained Chinese medicine physicians; however, widespread consumer access to this herb presents legal complications and challenges.

At the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi), we hope this information is helpful to you, your family and friends, and to healthcare practitioners. We continue to investigate this matter and will update relevant news and research.


[1] Cortegiani, Andrea, Giulia Ingoglia, Mariachiara Ippolito, Antonino Giarratano, and Sharon Einav. "A systematic review on the efficacy and safety of chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19." Journal of Critical Care (2020).
[2] Hong-Zhi, D. U., H. O. U. Xiao-Ying, M. I. A. O. Yu-Huan, H. U. A. N. G. Bi-Sheng, and L. I. U. Da-Hui. "Traditional Chinese Medicine: an effective treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP)." Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines 18, no. 3 (2020): 1-5.
[3] Hong-Zhi, D. U., H. O. U. Xiao-Ying, M. I. A. O. Yu-Huan, H. U. A. N. G. Bi-Sheng, and L. I. U. Da-Hui. "Traditional Chinese Medicine: an effective treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP)." Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines 18, no. 3 (2020): 1-5.
[4] Hong-Zhi, D. U., H. O. U. Xiao-Ying, M. I. A. O. Yu-Huan, H. U. A. N. G. Bi-Sheng, and L. I. U. Da-Hui. "Traditional Chinese Medicine: an effective treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP)." Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines 18, no. 3 (2020): 1-5.
[5] Zhao J, Tian SS, Yang J, Liu J, Zhang WD. Investigating the mechanism of Qing-Fei-Pai-Du-Tang for the treatment of Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia by network pharmacology. Chin Herb Med. 2020: 1-7.
[6] National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. Transcript of press conference in 17, February, 2020. 2020.
[7] Yao KT, Liu MY, Li X, Huang JH, Cai HB. Retrospective Clinical Analysis on Treatment of Novel Coronavirus-infected Pneumonia with Traditional Chinese Medicine Lianhua Qingwen. Chin J Exp Tradit Med Form. 2020: 1-7.
[8] Lv RB, Wang WJ, Li X. Treatment of suspected new coronavirus pneumonia with Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen. Clinical observation of 63 suspected cases. J Tradit Chin Med. 2020: 1-5.


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