Lianhua Qingwen, the FDA-approved traditional Chinese med, only treats symptoms, not COVID

Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 06:12 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2020 06:22 PM

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MANILA - Lianhua Qingwen, the traditional Chinese medicine recently approved for use in the Philippines by the country's Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), only treats symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and not the disease itself, a traditional Chinese medicine physician said Tuesday.

“It is a strong medicine that is also for symptomatic treatment - meaning, symptoms that you get because you have the virus, because you’re infected. It’s not going to treat the virus," Dr. Francisco "Kit" Navarro, Director of Training of the Ateneo Traditional Chinese Medicine, said of the Lianhua Qingwen.

"It’s not going to get rid of the virus. It will help your body get through the symptoms of fever, and the dryness, and the congestion, and the soreness… It will get you through that flu-like symptoms,” Navarro said in an interview on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo.

he Chinese embassy in the Philippines said that “Lianhua Qingwen Capsule is an approved #COVID19 treatment for mild and moderate cases in China.” But FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said it is only approved for sale, prescription and use in the Philippines as a traditional medicine.

According to Navarro, the Chinese herbal medicine is used to treat lung infections like pneumonia- or influenza-type diseases.

“It’s a symptomatic treatment for the symptoms of flu and infections, kasama na certain conditions of SARS,” he said.

The medicine can only be used upon a doctor’s prescription.

“This herbal medicine is very potent, very strong, with very strong effects and it is meant to treat specific conditions… the symptoms that you have under COVID,” he emphasized.

He clarified that Lianhua Qingwen is not an antibiotic, nor anti-viral. It cannot be used as a prophylaxis. It should not be taken as a supplement to improve one’s health.

“Kung wala kayong sakit, wag n'yong i-take ito. Not all herbals are safe, and not all herbals are meant as supplements,” he said.

He cautioned that not all patients can take the medicine, as bodies react differently, especially those with preexisting conditions.

“If you contract COVID and your pattern is a lot of heat, a lot of fever, a lot of inflammation, discharge in the nose, clogging of the nose, congestion in the throat..then this is going to help you. What it will do, it will clear up the congestion. It will stimulate your body and it will break your fever, yung magpapawis kayo,” he explained.

He added that if the patient is weak, has chills, and sweats a lot, then the herbal medicine could make the symptoms worse.

Navarro said that one of the ingredients of Lianhua Qingwen formulation is ephedra, a known stimulant.

“When you’re using this and if you have hypertension and heart disease, you have to use this drug carefully because one of the ingredients is ephedra, and that will over stimulate your heart and baka mag-hypertensive crisis ka,” he warned.

Because of its added risk, Navarro urged patients to consult with their doctors before taking the medicine.

Navarro urged the public to think about what they can do now to prevent being infected or getting sick.

“You have to focus on the preventive and what is known to support your health. There is social distancing, there is hygiene, there is good diet, even mental health. Yun pa rin pinu-push natin,” he said.