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Updated May 12, 2003










SARS Update: SARS Cure? Traditional Chinese medicine being put to use against SARS virus

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May 12, 2003 07:56:00 GMT

Shanghai. (Interfax-China) - Though there is as yet no effective vaccine or antidote for the SARS virus, a Chinese traditional medicine formula has seen good clinical responses from infected SARS patients, according to Chinese authorities. The continuous use of a traditional Chinese medicine remedy in Guangdong, the original area for the first reported SARS cases, has succeeded in a much lower death rate when compared to that of Beijing and Hong Kong.

SARS Cases and SARS Cures

The Guangdong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital has received a confirmed 112 SARS cases since January 2003, among which 105 have been cured and left the hospital, and 7 patients have died. All SARS patients were treated by Chinese traditional medicine techniques.

The leader of the Chinese team researching the use of Chinese traditional medicine against SARS, professor Deng Tietao, with Guangdong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, gave an exclusive interview to Interfax from his home in Guangdong Province.

In order to implement Guangdong's successful anti-SARS traditional Chinese medicine formula nationwide, China's State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) issued a circular to assign the Guangdong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital to summarize the formula used, which has recently been released to the public on the front page of the domestic traditional Chinese medicine newspaper, Zhongguo Zhongyiyao Bao.

The official formula was written under the supervision of a group of experts, led by professor Deng Tietao.

Does This SARS Cure Treat the SARS Virus Directly?

The traditional Chinese medicine remedy does not react to what kind of microbe the SARS virus is, or what kind of genetic effect the virus undertakes after entering a human body, it instead reacts directly to the symptoms that occur during the period the human body is infected with the virus, Deng told Interfax. The goal of traditional Chinese medicine remedy is not to kill the virus but drive it away. That is why traditional Chinese medicine can cure some severe illnesses, even it does not have a microbiological make-up, he explained.

Hong Kong, which suffered a higher death rate in SARS cases before, has begun to utilize traditional Chinese medicine. Representatives of the Hong Kong Health Department visited Guangdong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital several days ago, Deng disclosed, and two doctors from this hospital have already been invited to Hong Kong to help treat SARS patients there.

The expert group has divided the SARS illness into four phases, namely an initial phase, a medium phase, a peak phase, and a recuperation phase. The four phases have different symptoms, and patients in different phases should be treated by different formulas. For example

  • patients in the initial phase can take huo pu xia cen tang (soup of the leaf of wrinkled giant hyssop), while
  • patients in the recuperation phase should take xia shen tang (adenophora root soup) or mai dong tang (dwarf lily turf tuber soup).

In addition to the traditional Chinese medicine formulas, according to the different symptoms in the separate phases, intravenous injections of compounds can be introduced, such as of yu xing cao zhen (cordate honttuynia), dan shen zhen (salvia mitiorrhiza), deng zhan xi xin zhen (fleabane), or shuang huang lian zhen (coptis chinensis franch). As to weaker patients, 5 to 10 grams of American ginseng root can also be taken per day.

Li, an official with the Guangdong Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (GATCM), told Interfax that both China's Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Hong Kong Health Department came to Guangzhou for a scientific exchange about one month ago, regarding SARS treatment.

SARS Symptoms Vary With Each Person, and So Do Chinese Herbal Formulas

Traditional Chinese medicine remedies are carried out based on symptoms relating to each individual case. While SARS patients regularly have different clinical symptoms, such as different fever temperatures, and different length of the four phases. So, the released formula is just a general guide, instead of an all-purpose recipe for curing SARS, which could mislead doctors, according to Li.

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