Herbal Medicine & COVID-19

There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for the new Coronavirus. And that has medical professionals here and in China searching for the best prevention and treatment methods while the world waits for a vaccine.


In western medicine, part of how doctors diagnose COVID-19, is by analyzing RNA in a patient’s throat. In China, they do the same. But they also use Traditional Chinese Medicine, known as TCM.

Dr. Joy Yang is a TCM practitioner in Blacksburg. She says TCM diagnoses begins with taking a person’s pulse. She says, “the Coronavirus patient has a specific, unusual pulse.”

An unusual pulse speaks volumes in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as does the color and appearance of the person’s tongue. These ancient diagnostic tools are relevant in this current disease outbreak.


“When you combine them together, you can say this person has Coronavirus, not flu,” she explains.

In western medicine, doctors say what distinguishes the Coronavirus from the flu is, the former ultimately presents with a dry cough and shortness of breath. Both flu and COVID-19 patients will have a fever, though it’s not always present in mild flu cases.


Yang is Adjunct Professor at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She says, even if a COVID-19 patient no longer has a fever, it does not necessarily mean the person has recovered.


“We still need to see that the pulse comes back to normal. Also, the tongue should be back to normal, and the CT scan images should be back to normal. So, with all those together, we can say that person is really recovered.”


But even a person who has recovered from COVID-19 may still be capable of spreading the disease. A study inWuhan published in JAMA in late February found people who recovered who, nonetheless, tested positive for the disease.


“These findings suggest that at least a proportion of recovered patients still may be virus carriers,” she says.

Dr. Yang has been stocking up on Chinese herbs to treat her patients. Doctors in China have identified 3 acupuncture points that may be useful with Coronavirus. Dr. She is in touch daily with colleagues in China, getting updates on treatment and outcomes from all over that country and posting updates on her website.


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