A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) outbreak in more than 200 countries recently caused viral pneumonia that was extremely infectious and pathogenic. The Chinese government proposes that both Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine can be used in combination to treat pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV2, and TCM effectively provides continuous prevention and treatment.
The present review analyzes and summarizes the prevention and treatment of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with TCM. A classified analysis of the efficacy and advantages of TCM for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 was performed, and the mechanisms of TCM in treating COVID-19 are summarized.
Focus on organs other than lungs based on TCM meridian theory
Treating patients as an organic whole is the prerequisite for TCM to treat all diseases. COVID-19 is primarily located in the lungs, but there are exterior and interior relationships between the lungs and the large intestine.
The connection between the spleen, stomach, and lungs is extremely strong and should be attended to during treatment. More importantly, TCM also attaches great importance to liver damage caused by COVID-19. During the SARS epidemic, it was recognized that the receptor angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2) was activated during the viral infection and subsequently caused a dysfunction in blood clotting. This finding suggested that we should also pay attention to the relationship between the heart and the lungs.
TCM treatment strategy for COVID-19
TCM divides the disease into four stages according to the law of disease transmission: early stage, advanced stage, critical stage, and recovery stage. In the early stage, the common syndromes of COVID-19 were the syndrome of dampness repressing the defensive qi of the lungs or of wind heat attacking the lungs. The primary treatment is dredging the exterior and penetrating the pathogen, ventilating the lung qi for lowering adverse qi, and treatment against the cold in the Taiyang meridian. In the advanced stage, the common syndromes were the syndrome of dampness blocking the lungs and stomach or pathogenic heat accumulating in the lungs. The main treatment is increasing clear qi and lowering adverse qi. Then, in the critical stage, the common syndromes were the syndrome of epidemic virus closing the lungs, or internal block and outward desertion. The treatment should allow the Yang to recover and open the orifices to induce resuscitation. Finally, the common syndromes in the recovery stage were the syndromes of qi deficiency of the lungs and spleen. Attention should be paid to qi and yin in the later period. In addition, in the treatment of plague, both evil and positive are emphasized by TCM.