The integration of traditional Chinese medicine with the treatment of COVID-19 has proved effective and won popularity among patients during the current outbreak in Shanghai, authorities said.
Around 6,400 traditional Chinese medicine practitioners from at least 14 provinces across the country have joined local TCM practitioners over the past month to provide aid during the city's current COVID-19 outbreak, according to the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
They are working on the front lines to treat COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic infections together with the local TCM practitioners in the designated hospitals and fangcang, or makeshift hospitals.
Most of them have years of work experience at fever clinics and participated in the fight against COVID-19 in other cities over the past two years, said the administration in a report on its WeChat account.
A TCM contingent from Hubei province arrived in Shanghai on Sunday. All of the members had previously aided Wuhan, the provincial capital, during its epidemic peak in 2020.
"The selfless love and help from the Shanghai people and Shanghai medical teams for Wuhan two years ago will never be forgotten. This time, we'll do our best to repay their kindness," said Xiao Mingzhong, a TCM practitioner from Hubei Provincial Hospital of TCM.
Fang Min, president of Shuguang Hospital Affiliated with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said that TCM has been applied to 98 percent of the infections in Shanghai during the current outbreak.
At the fangcang built at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, a medical team from Shanghai Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine has used TCM to speed up patients' recovery from COVID-19.
The team provides instruction for exercises based on TCM theory, acupuncture therapy and TCM massage, as well as herbal liquid medicines to help boost patients' immunity.
A special traditional herbal preparation has been developed aimed at preventing the development of infections in the respiratory system.
"The medicine is suitable for all, especially vulnerable groups, and has been fairly popular among patients in the fangcang," said Zhou Yang, a member on the expert team for COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Shanghai.
They also led the patients' TCM-theory-based exercises to help adjust organ functions, relieve anxiety and boost immunity. Doctors said that many patients had reported symptom relief and a better emotional state.
The World Health Organization released a report titled WHO Expert Meeting on Evaluation of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of COVID-19 on March 31.
The report said there are promising data to suggest that TCM is beneficial in reducing the risk of progression from mild-to-moderate cases to severe cases of COVID-19, and early TCM application may result in better clinical outcomes for mild-to-moderate patients.
Also, it said for such cases, there is evidence that the studied TCMs may shorten the time for viral clearance, resolution of clinical symptoms and length of hospital stay when compared to conventional treatment alone.
The report encouraged WHO member states to consider the integration of TCM in planning for the clinical management of COVID-19 within the context of their healthcare systems.