by Geoff D’Arcy Lic. Ac., DOM.

The Coronavirus (COVID 19) was born late December 2019 into humans, during the cold damp Winter of Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province China. This nasty, new-born cousin of the SARS virus, may develop into a fever (call your MD over 100.4 f), dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. While most cases result in mild symptoms, some can progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure, leading to fatalities of 2% according to WHO.

Starting in Central China four months ago, this virus has infected over 80,000 and killed over 4,000 Chinese (as of 03/09/20) Flaring into South Korea, Iran and even shutting down Italy. It is spreading around the World, causing quarantines, disrupting/devastating economies and causing general panic and distress.

This Coronavirus is preventable through avoidance strategies of tracking and limiting exposures, washing hands, etc.  But not preventable with a vaccine (yet) and with testing in the USA and elsewhere slow to confirm if its influenza or coronavirus, the treatment seems to be supportive, not curative. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19, though experimental antivirals have been used. People with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatments include care to support vital organ functions.

Integration of Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Coronavirus

There is a massive mobilization of resources and an unprecedented response underway within the People’s Republic of China. This has involved huge testing programs, required self- and hospital quarantine, closure of businesses and factories, provinces even the construction of entirely new hospitals within just weeks. Supportive to conventional Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is also playing a major role in this effort to treat the CODID 19 infection.

The Chinese have utilized TCM for every major infectious epidemic and pandemic for over 2,000 years. The ancient book of TCM Huang Di Nei Jing (Inner Canon of Huangdi) was written approximately 99 B.C.E.-26 B.C.E.; the text recorded a plague that could transmit disease from human-to-human with symptoms that were like those described for COVID-19. Other texts hundreds of years later, recorded therapies and formulas that were effective at treating infectious diseases.

Currently, the use of TCM has resulted in remarkable improvement and alleviation of symptoms in COVID-19 patients in China. Chinese Herbal Medicine has studied, developed and refined formulas, from a massive experiential body of knowledge, within each epidemic and the coronavirus (COVID 19) is no different.

As reported by SupChina an independent digital media company ..”In a treatment plan (in Chinese) released by the National Health Commission in early February, TCM therapies were highly recommended by China’s health authorities as an effective tool to mitigate patients’ symptoms of fever and breathing difficulties. According to Liú Qīngquán (in Chinese), the director of the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospitals and a member of the team dispatched to Wuhan, TCM had been used in roughly 9,600 COVID-19 cases across the country as of February 10. Outside Hubei, the province hit hardest by the epidemic, about 90% of the patients took TCM remedies at some point and received positive results. “After analyzing case reports from different areas, we have reached a conclusion that TCM is able to prevent mild cases from getting worse,” Liu said.

According to Xinhua, the biggest and most influential media organization in China, “Western medicine offers important life-supporting measures such as respiratory and circulatory assistance, while TCM focuses on improving patients’ physical conditions and immune function. They complement each other,” said Zhang Boli, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Wuhan’s coronavirus control headquarters ordered integrated treatment of TCM and Western medicine, especially among non-critical patients, and observation of TCM’s curative effects at designated hospitals. Statistics show that 2,220 medics from TCM hospitals and institutions across China have been sent to aid the epidemic fight in Hubei so far. Over 75 percent of COVID-19 patients are receiving TCM treatment in Hubei and over 90 percent in other parts of China.”

So, what are the main Herbal Formulas that has been preferred and used by the TCM doctors? Please see the list from the lessons learned in Wuhan for condition progression and matching Herbal Formulas in the references below. Please call a licensed TCM Herbalist to know when to match the condition with these formulas.

TCM Protection Formulas  

Following the Infections in Wuhan the Chinese promoted prevention programs recommending Chinese medicine for prevention. After a review of literature in…’ Can Chinese Medicine Be Used for Prevention of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)? The main principles of TCM use were to tonify energy (qi) to protect from external pathogens, disperse wind and discharge heat, and resolve dampness.

The following herbs are identified

  1. Radix astragali (Huangqi),
  2. Radix saposhnikoviae (Fangfeng),
  3. Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae (Baizhu),
  • Lonicerae Japonicae Flos (Jinyinhua),
  • Fructus forsythia (Lianqiao).
  • Radix glycyrrhizae (Gancao),

Jade Windscreen (Yu Ping Feng San)

The first 3 herbs listed above consist of the Jade Windscreen Formula. This is probably the most famous prevention formula from TCM literature, for the prevention of respiratory infections and was handed out to Chinese healthcare workers in the SARS epidemic. Variations always included the Jade Windscreen Formula but add “anti-toxin” and other “heat-clearing” herbs such as my favorite…. Andrographis Paniculata

Lonicera, Scute & Forsythia Pills, (Shuang Huang Lian Wan,)

The other two major ingredients (3 ,4) from the literature review are included with Scute in this classic Formula, it’s a popular Chinese formula that Chinese use as a natural alternative to antibiotic for viral infection in colds and flu. This formula sold out in China both online and in stores, after the official Xinhua News Agency published an article (in Chinese) that claims the herbal remedy offers hope as a COVID-19 treatment. Xinhua the news agency reported Friday that the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the Wuhan Institute of Virology had discovered that the Shuang huang lian oral li quid — a popular combined herbal remedy commonly used to relieve some symptoms such as fever, cough, and sore throat — could be used to “inhibit” the deadly virus. 

Prevention Formulas, Lessons from the SARS Outbreak

Minor Bupleurum Formula (Xiao Chai Hu Tang) + Honeysuckle & Forsythia (Yin Qiao San) – The first formula is extremely popular in Japan as a cold and flu preventative. It frees the chest, supports the qi, resolves phlegm, and drains heat from the lung. Yin Qiao Formula is an anti-toxin/anti-viral formula with the two main herbs used to modify the formulas used to prevent SARS.

Astragalus & Ligustrum Formula, (Huang Qi Dong Qing Pia) is inspired by Fu Zheng therapy research in China. Fu Zheng means to “support the normal or righteous qi” to protect the body from adverse influences. Appropriate for supporting immune function when challenged by any illness where there is a weakened immune system or weakened immune response.

What else can we do to make the most inhospitable environment possible for this virus? Both in our inner and external environments. 

There’s the virus and then there’s the host

So much has been said by the media and the experts about the virus and precious little about the other factor in this equation…the Host! How can we boost our immune response? Use our anxieties as fuel for positive lifestyle behaviors that boost our defenses.

  • Get good sleep and prioritize your self-care.  Sleep is critical to optimal immune function.  If you are sleep-deprived, you are not at your peak immunity.
  • Eat nutrient-rich food and prioritize a healthy diet. The best dietary advice traditional medicine has to offer involves the cultivation of deep, nourishing hydration. This cannot be accomplished merely be drinking more water. Deep, nourishing hydration comes from eating clean foods that are cooked, “wet,” and relatively easy to digest, such as broth soups and porridges– for breakfast!!  Vietnamese phô is a good example of a food that provides deep, nourishing hydration.

Foods and beverages best to avoid: Dehydrating foods like alcohol (some say caffeine and carbonated beverages) Phlegm-producing and inflammatory foods like sugar and gluten (some would say dairy) Eating between meals is discouraged in order to give the digestive system a rest and “strong qi,”

  • Vitamin D, Zinc, NAC and Vitamin Clevels. Talk to your doctor about optimizing these nutrients that are particularly important for optimal immune function, may inhibit the virus and may be depleted in the typical diet, in the winter depending on location.
  • Stay hydrated.  Water is at the foundation of our health.  Clean/filtered water consumed regularly helps keep our whole system functioning optimally, including our immune systems.
  • Progressive Relaxationfor 20 minutes Daily. An outbreak is scary, but most people will experience COVID-19 as a mild illness.  Prolonged, toxic stress inhibits immune function, here’s the free relaxation audio…
  • Exercise, acupuncture, nutritional and herbal supplements recommended by your healthcare practitioner, qigong/tai chi, yoga, meditation, or whatever your “go-to” to unwind must take priority now.  These are not luxuries!  Take care of yourself.
  • Humidifiers.Studies have shown that homes kept at 40-60% relative humidity-the optimal range-are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces. (See the study in the references below).

Is the Coronavirus (COVID 19) seasonal?

It’s still unknown, but a recent study suggests it might be. The “virus is highly sensitive to high temperature,” which could prevent it from spreading in warmer countries, while the opposite appeared to be true in colder climes”, the study said. With luck, this sensitivity to warmth may make it disappear when the cold damp leaves and the warm weather arrives.

The lessons from TCM teach this virus was born into a cold damp Wuhan Winter the climate is damp and it easily mixed with the internal dampness attacking the Lung’s defenses, particularly in patients who have week digestion and lung energy wore down by a pre-existing conditions.

CDC Prevention Advice

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • We recommend that all households also have a working thermometer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.


In a treatment plan (in Chinese) released by the National Health Commission in early February,

* Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the capital of south China’s Guangdong province, sought to determine how the spread of the new coronavirus might be affected by changes in season and temperature. Published last month, though yet to be peer-reviewed

**Official Treatment Protocols Include Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas for Novel Coronavirus

Traditional Chinese medicine offers oriental wisdom in fight against novel virus.

Humidifiers. Studies have shown that homes kept at 40-60% relative humidity-the optimal range-are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces.

Can Chinese Medicine Be Used for Prevention of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)? A Review of Historical Classics, Research Evidence and Current Prevention Programs.

Luo H1,2, Tang QL3, Shang YX2,3, Liang SB2,3, Yang M2,3, Robinson N2,4, Liu JP5,6.

Read the Hubei Formulas. COVID-19 protocols from the Hubei Province Integrated Chinese\Western Medicine Hospital

YinQiao Formula.

Jade Windscreen Formula used by Chinese Healthcare workers during the SARS epidemic

Lessons in Prevention Formulas from SARS

Traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of coronavirus disease 2019: a review  Huan-Tian Cui1#, Yu-Ting Li2#, Li-Ying Guo3, Xiang-Guo Liu1, Lu-Shan Wang4, Jian-Wei Jia3, Jia-Bao Liao5, Jing Miao3, Zhai-Yi Zhang6, Li Wang7, Hong-Wu Wang2,*(), Wei-Bo Wen8,*()

NAC- Research points the way toward a practical nutraceutical strategy for coping with RNA virus infections

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