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Successful Prevention and Treatment of SARS With Chinese Medicine


FOR RELEASE: May 24, 2003

Brian Carter, M.Sci, L.Ac.
The Pulse of Oriental Medicine

Successful Prevention and Treatment of SARS With Chinese Medicine

The Chinese press has frequently reported on the successful treatment of SARS with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, this information has not been carried by major U.S. media, nor has it impacted the public health policy of affected western countries. Already, SARS has reached Canada, and the possibility of a U.S. epidemic looms. As Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said on May 22, "It could come back in the future. It's mutating. You don't exactly know what the results are going to be."

As of May 5, 2003, the Guangdong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital had treated a confirmed 112 SARS cases since January 2003. All of the SARS patients at Guangdong TCM Hospital were treated with Chinese herbal medicine. Of these 112 patients, all survived but 7. This demonstrated a survival rate of 94%, at the high end of the World Health Organization's estimates. The WHO expects a SARS death rate of 6-12% overall, but as high as 50% in groups such as the elderly. Earlier reports of lower mortality rates have been discredited and the responsible Chinese officials have been punished or fired for their cover-up.

The official herbal formula was written by a group of TCM experts, led by renowned pharmacologist and founder of the Guangzhou University of TCM, Deng Tietao. The formula does not react to what kind of microbe the SARS virus is. Instead it works directly on the pattern of symptoms that occur during while the human body is infected with the virus, Deng told Interfax on May 12, 2003.

The goal of the TCM remedy is not to kill the virus but to drive it away by making the host (human being) inhospitable, he explained. This is important since the SARS coronavirus resists antibiotic treatments, and appears to mutate quickly, thus making the creation of a direct anti-viral agent more difficult.

The formula designed under Deng's supervision is a guide, not an all-purpose recipe for curing SARS, according to an official with the Guangdong Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine remedies are based on the symptoms of each case. SARS patients regularly have varied clinical symptoms, such as fever temperature, and length of each stages of SARS disease.

China was the birthplace of TCM, but Western medical doctors outnumber TCM practitioners two to one. Hong Kong's public hospital system excludes TCM medical services. Two doctors from the successful Guangdong TCM Hospital were invited to help fight the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong. However, as Hong Kong TCM practitioner, Wu Jia Wen wrote May 20, 2003 in the newspaper Takung Pao, "Hong Kong's own TCM practitioners have not been allowed to participate in front line medical support and life-saving work."

To prevent SARS, The University of Hong Kong's School of Chinese Medicine, has devised two herbal formulas, which are taken regularly by their clinic staff. These formulas are intended to prevent - not to treat - viral pneumonia in general. They combine two renowned Chinese herbal formulas, plus the addition of other herbs with known anti-viral effects. According to Chairman of the Chinese University's Institute of Chinese Medicine's management committee, Leung Ping-Chung, the formula must be taken for 14 days before it is effective. It can be taken as a powder mixed with hot water, or the raw herbs can be boiled into a tea.

SARS is a respiratory illness that has recently been reported in Asia, North America and Europe. The disease began in Guangdong, China and has spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Japan, United States, France and Britain.


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