Many of us have probably heard of the Chinese herbal medicine LianHua QingWen JiaoNang only recently, as some have attested to its effectiveness in the treatment of COVID-19.
But Dr. Cho Chiong Tan, a physician and acupuncturist who has an extensive knowledge on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), says it has been around in China for many years and has been widely used for common viral infections such as flu.
In fact, it was also used during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic in the early 2000s.
Dr. Tan explains that in TCM, a virus such as COVID-19 is treated like a toxin and LianHua QingWen works as a detoxifying agent that helps get rid of it.
“One of the effects of this medication is you will develop a mild diarrhea, due to its cleansing effect,” he explains.
One of the common symptoms of the COVID-19 infection is also fever, and this Chinese drug is said to help provide a cooling effect to the body.
He cautions though that LianHua QingWen is recommended only for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, which comprise a great majority of our COVID cases in the Philippines. “A huge percentage can actually be treated at home with this medicine,” he points out.
“When I say mild to moderate cases, it means you have a low-grade fever, you have cough, body pains, and you encounter difficulty in expectorating your sputum,” Dr. Tan explains.
“But when I say severe, it means you have developed high-grade fever and you already experience difficulty of breathing. In cases like this, you need to be admitted in the hospital and placed in the intensive care unit,” he says.
For those experiencing mild, flu-like symptoms due to COVID, he suggests taking three capsules thrice a day (a total of nine capsules), while for moderate cases, the recommended dosage is four capsules thrice a day (total of 12 capsules). These are supposed to be taken after meals.
Dr. Tan says the drug is generally safe for kids, but the dosage should be lowered depending on the height and weight of the kid. “You can cut the dosage into half,” he suggests.
As for pregnant women, the Western medicine trained doctor explains that precaution should be observed, especially during the first trimester of the pregnancy. “But after the first trimester, we tend to be more lenient in giving medications,” he says.
Are there any known contraindications?
Dr. Tan says that LianHua QingWen is not advisable for COVID patients who are experiencing a chilling sensation due to the infection. “This medicine has a cooling effect so if you take this, lalo kang magchi-chill,” he cautions.
“If the patient has COVID or experiences flulike symptoms, mainit, matamlay ang pakiramdam, you can give this. But the moment nagchi-chill ang patient, you should stop giving it.”
The Chinese herbal medicine also has a component that can likely cause mild diarrhea or loosening of the stool. “LianHua QingWen is believed to get rid of the toxins in the body. Then after a while, the patient will feel better,” he assures.
“If you have mild diarrhea two to three times a day, medyo watery or malambot ang stool, okey lang yan. Pero kung parang gripo, that’s another story,” he cautions.
Dr. Tan admits that while he is a Western Medicine practitioner, he had given some capsules to his patients who had suffered from COVID. “I happened to receive some boxes, so I gave them away to my patients and some of my Filipino doctor-friends, and so far, wala namang intolerance. They were happy with it,” he says.
The doctor holds clinic at the Metropolitan Medical Center and is also a consultant at the Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (FEU-NRMF) Institute of Medicine.
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a branch of the United States National Institutes of Health, also affirmed that the LH capsules have “therapeutic effects on COVID-19 by improving the recovery rate of symptoms, shortening the time to symptom recovery, and improving the recovery of chest radiologic abnormalities.”
But the study recommended randomized controlled trials to fully evaluate the efficacy of LH capsules in larger population.
The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently given its stamp of approval on Lianhua Qingwen as part of the standard coronavirus treatments.