The Government’s National Medical Products Administration announced that China has approved three traditional Chinese medicinal products (TCM) to help treat COVID-19.
The agency used a special approval procedure to okay the three products, which “provides more options for the treatment of COVID-19”, the agency said in a statement.
The three approved herbal products come as granules whose origins can be traced to ancient Chinese recipes and were tried out in the early days of the pandemic with the supervision of many academics and health experts.
“The traditional medicines are granules for lung cleansing and detoxing, granules for resolving dampness and detoxing, as well as granules for diffusing and detoxing the lungs”, said the statement.
The safety and effectiveness of TCM is still contended in China, where it has adherents and skeptics alike. Although many treatments in TCM have been in use for centuries, critics argue that there is no verifiable scientific evidence to support their speculated benefits.
In recent years, ancient medicine has repeatedly been hailed as a source of national pride by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also a well-known supporter of TCM. During the outbreak, Xi repeatedly urged doctors to treat patients with a mixture of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine.
“Traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization that embodies the wisdom of the nation and its people”, Xi said at a national conference on TCM in October 2019.
Tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients received herbal treatments along with major antiviral drugs last year, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“By adjusting the health of the whole body and enhancing immunity, TCM can help stimulate the patient’s ability to fight and recover from disease, which is an effective means of therapy”, Yu Yanhong, Deputy Head of National Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration, explained in March 2020.
Yu added that in a clinical trial of 102 patients with mild symptoms in Wuhan, patients with combined treatment had a 33 percent higher recovery rate, compared to the group that received only Western medicine.