Chinese medicine shows promise in COVID-19 recovery, study finds

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A study by the School of Chinese Medicine at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) reports that over half of COVID-19 patients treated during Hong Kong’s fifth pandemic wave experienced persistent symptoms, commonly known as “long COVID.”

The research also indicates that Chinese medicine may help in quicker recovery and relief from symptoms.

Long COVID Symptoms Persist

During the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, 55% of patients who sought treatment from the HKBU Chinese Medicine Telemedicine Center continued to battle at least one long COVID symptom six months to a year after infection.

Fatigue, brain fog, and cough were the most frequently reported issues among these patients.

Impact of Chinese Medicine

The study suggests that patients who took Chinese medicine after contracting COVID-19 saw a quicker reduction in symptoms and tested negative faster in rapid tests than those who did not use Chinese medicine.

These findings have been recognized in several international academic publications, including the Journal of Medical Virology and the American Journal of Chinese Medicine.

HKBU’s Telemedicine Center was established in 2021 to provide free remote medical services to COVID-19 patients.

Utilizing treatment protocols from Mainland China, the Center offers diagnosis, treatment, and preventive care according to the Chinese Medicine Clinical Guidelines for COVID-19.

Early Symptoms and Recovery

The HKBU team, led by Professor Bian Zhaoxiang, conducted a retrospective study on about 13,000 patients in home isolation.

They discovered that the most common early symptoms were cough, sputum, dry throat, and sore throat. For those who took Chinese medicine, the average time to test negative was seven days, with significantly milder symptoms.

Long COVID Prevalence and Risk Factors

A follow-up survey with over 6,000 patients revealed that long COVID was more common in women, middle-aged individuals, those with obesity, and patients with certain pre-existing health conditions.

Interestingly, no strong link was found between vaccination doses and the likelihood of developing long COVID.

Chinese Medicine as a Health Care Component

Professor Bian Zhaoxiang highlighted the Telemedicine Center’s role in providing free treatments during the outbreak and its contribution to understanding COVID-19’s progression and post-infection syndrome.

He emphasized that the study not only demonstrates the potential of Chinese medicine in treating COVID-19 but also suggests that such tele-services can be a vital part of Hong Kong’s healthcare and disease prevention strategy.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about new evidence on rare blood clots after COVID-19 vaccination, and how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that low-sodium plant-based diets may prevent COVID-19 better, and results showing zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Medical Virology.

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