(CNN) — China approved the sale of three traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help treat COVID-19, the Government’s National Medical Products Administration announced on Wednesday.
The agency used a special approval procedure to give the green light to the three products, which “provide more options for the treatment of covid-19.” said in a statement.
Herbal products come in granular form and have their origins in “ancient Chinese recipes,” the statement said. They were developed from traditional Chinese medicine remedies that had been used early in the pandemic and which were “evaluated by many front-line scholars and experts.”
The three products are “granules to cleanse and detoxify the lungs,” “granules to detoxify and remove moisture” and “granules to detoxify and diffuse the lungs,” the statement read.
The safety and efficacy of TCM is still debated in China, where it has both followers and skeptics. Although many of the traditional Chinese medicine remedies have been used for hundreds of years, critics argue that there is no verifiable scientific evidence to support their purported benefits.
In recent years, ancient remedies have been repeatedly hailed as a source of national pride by Chinese President Xi Jinping, himself a well-known proponent of traditional Chinese medicine.
“Traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization that embodies the wisdom of the nation and its people,” Xi told a national conference on traditional Chinese medicine in October 2019. Throughout the pandemic, Xi has repeatedly urged doctors to treat patients with a mixture of Chinese methods and Western medicines.
Tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients received herbal remedies along with conventional antiviral drugs last year, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“By adjusting the health of the whole body and enhancing immunity, TCM can help boost patients’ ability to resist and recover from illness, which is an effective form of therapy,” said Yu Yanhong, deputy director of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in March 2020.
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In a clinical trial Of 102 patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19, in Wuhan, patients with combination treatments were compared with the control group of patients who only received Western medicine, dijo Yu. Its recovery rate was 33% higher, he added.
By the end of March last year, China had managed to control its outbreak to a great extent, and although it has suffered occasional outbreaks in various places, the numbers have remained low and daily life has resumed. Restrictions have been lifted, allowing people to travel across the country and assemble without masks.
Authorities have praised TCM for helping contain COVID symptoms and limiting the outbreak; In January this year, up to 60,000 doses of TCM were sent to front-line police officers to protect them from COVID-19, according to the MTC administration. Several provinces, including Jilin and Hebei, implemented “Prevention Plans for Traditional Chinese Medicine” in January, to prescribe traditional Chinese medicine to covid patients.
Now authorities are looking to expand the industry, which was estimated at more than 3 trillion yuan (US $ 430 billion) by 2020.
The country will aim to train 100,000 professionals in the next 10 years and implement measures such as the curricula of Traditional Chinese Medicine in schools, announced the General Directorate of the State Council this february. More traditional medicine rehabilitation centers will be built and some with clinical research centers.
State media have also promoted traditional Chinese medicine in their coverage. The state news agency Xinhua reported that the MTC offered a source of “esperanza»For Chinese Americans in New York when the city’s public health system was about to collapse, and that Kuwait adopted remedies for the treatment of covid.
The World Health Organization, which gave its first endorsement of TCM in 2018, originally advised against the use of traditional herbal remedies for COVID-19 on its website, although that line was later removed as it was’ too much wide ».
Some in the biomedical community say the WHO overlooked the toxicity of some medicinal herbs and the lack of evidence that they work, while animal rights advocates say it will further endanger animals like the tiger. the pangolin, bear and rhinoceros, whose organs are used in some TCM cures.
– CNN’s Carol Yuan contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism