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TCM has role in treating respiratory symptoms: Expert

China Daily| Updated: 2024-02-02

Traditional Chinese medicine has a distinctive advantage in coping with the wave of respiratory illnesses that has struck China this winter, according to a senior TCM expert.

Wang Chengxiang, president of The Third Affiliated Hospital of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said that different upper respiratory infections have been in circulation and have overtaken one another since autumn, including rhinovirus, adenovirus, mycoplasma pneumoniae, as well as influenza viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19.

"From the perspective of a TCM professional, these infections can be swept into the same category of 'external contraction febrile disease'," he said.

"While the majority can recover without special treatment, vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with weak immune systems, are at risk of developing into severe cases."

Wang said that currently there are not many targeted Western treatments for respiratory infections.

"But with its long history in combating such diseases, TCM has created a number of tools to expel the pathogens while easing symptoms," he said.

He said TCM practitioners can adjust classic prescriptions based on the local weather, the season and individual constitution.

A number of people this winter have complained about lingering symptoms, including coughing, long after their acute symptoms such as fever disappear.

Wang said that coughing can be divided into three categories in TCM theory based on whether the patient produces phlegm and whether the patient coughs severely, and each condition can be treated with tailored TCM prescriptions.

The National Health Commission said during a news conference last week that flu activity nationwide has been trending downward and the number of COVID-19 infections is at a low level. However, increasing population movement during the upcoming Spring Festival could pose a heightened risk of transmission.

Wang suggested the public pay more attention to personal hygiene and take personal protective measures, such as wearing masks and washing hands regularly when traveling.

"It is also OK to take some TCM cold prevention remedies in advance, such as one day before embarking on a long trip," he said.

"Some common food ingredients, such as ginger, dates, scallions and Sichuan peppercorns have warming properties and can be used as part of preventive measures."