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Analysis of Chinese Herbal Formulae Recommended for COVID-19 in Different Schemes in China: A Data Mining Approach NEWS RELEASE: 20-10-2021

The article by ZiPing Li and colleagues is published in Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening, Volume 24, Issue 7, 2021

A multidisciplinary research team at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine has analyzed the prescription pattern of Chinese herbs in the treatment of COVID-19.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been proven effective in the treatment of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). According to official Chinese news reports, many Chinese patients with COVID-19 benefit from TCM. The key characteristics of Chinese medicine are syndrome differentiation. The courses of COVID-19 can be divided into the early stage, middle stage, severe stage, and recovery stage in TCM theory. The Chinese herbs recommended for these four stages in different TCM syndromes were found in this work.

“In the early stage of COVID-19, most patients have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and chills,” said Dr. Liwei Yin, first author of the study and a physician of The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. “This is the manifestation of heat, cold or dampness in the lungs.” Kuxingren(Semen Armeniacae Amarum), Baidoukou(Amomum kravanh) and Houpo(Magnolia Officinalis Cortex) are the top 3 Chinese herbs used in this stage.

While in the middle stage, most patients have TCM syndrome of plague poison obstructing the lungs. Kuxingren (Semen Armeniacae Amarum), Shigao(Gypsum Fibrosum) and Tinglizi(Descurainiae Semen) are the highest-frequency Chinese herbs used in this stage.

In the severe stage, the most common presenting symptoms were dyspnea and coma. Mechanical ventilator and ECMO are often needed. Renshen(Ginseng Radix et Rhizoma), Fuzi(Aconiti Lateralis Radix Praeparata) and Shanyurou(Fructus Corni) are the top 3 Chinese herbs used in this stage. “Fuzi has the effect of decreasing heart failure, but it also has neurotoxicity and cardiac toxicity,” said Dr Ziping Li, principal author for correspondence of this study and a professor of Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. “The combination of Gancao and Ganjiang can regulate the efficacy and toxicity of Fuzi.”

In the recovery stage, patients often have TCM syndromes of Lung-spleen qi deficiency and Qi-yin deficiency. Fuling(Poria), Fabanxia(Pinelliae Rhizoma) and Chenpi(Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium) are the highest-frequency Chinese herbs used in this stage.

“Combination of Chinese herbs can enhance their efficacy and regulate their side effect,” Liwei Yin said. “This work also found the high-frequency herb pairs and potential herbal combinations.”

Hopefully this study provides new ideas for the treatment of COVID-19 and helps to understand the prescription pattern of Chinese medicine.

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The paper, "Analysis of Chinese herbal formulae recommended for COVID-19 in different schemes in China: A data mining Approach," is published in the Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening. The paper was co-authored by Ziping Li of Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine. This study is financially supported by “Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Combination School in Southern China research room” (No. E43612), Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, China.

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