Repost: Traditional Chinese Medicine Contributes to Lower Flu Death Rate

Note: This article was originally published on my old blog qi-spot on November 17, 2009.  Please forgive the amateurish writing style.  For the sake of history, I have not edited the original blog entry except to properly cite the original People’s Daily article.

An article in People’s Daily Online claims that the death rate in China from Swine Flu is 1/20th the world rate.  One of the reasons it lists for this is that Traditional Chinese Medicine is very effective for H1N1, among others. (link)

The fatality rate of A/H1N1 carriers is 0.065 percent in China, accounting 1/20 of world’s 1.24 percent average, said Li Lianda, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering said on the Cross-Strait Chinese Medicine Development Conference, held in Beijing on Nov. 14-15.

According to the latest data released by the National Health Administration by Nov. 13, 2009, there were 65,927 confirmed A/H1N1 cases in 31 provinces, with 43 deaths. World Health Organization (WHO) said on Nov. 13 that by Nov. 8, 2009, there were over 500,000 A/H1N1 cases worldwide and at least 6,200 people have died.

Everyone already knows my opinions about H1N1 misdiagnoses – anyone found to have H1N1 and dies of whatever reason will be classified as an H1N1 death – but this is still worth examining because it means one of two things: less people who die have H1N1 antibodies and/or less people with H1N1 antibodies die.

Li claimed there are three main reasons contributing to the low fatality rate. First, efficient prevention and control methods help maintain low infection rate in the Chinese mainland. Second, key areas and focused groups were given priority to use the flu vaccine at an early stage, which slowed down its spread. Third, Chinese traditional medicine was very effective in flu control.

Li added that tamilflu was not the best choice for A/H1N1 carriers considering its limitations, including drug resistance, side effects and its high price. On the contrary, Chinese traditional medicine has a noticeable effect; no matter whether patients have light or severe conditions. Chinese traditional therapy has greater effect such as antibacterial, antiviral, pain-relieving, fever-easing and immune system adjusting.

However, Li suggested that China should do more research to bring effective traditional therapy.

I will be very very pleasantly surprised if this article reaches the western press.  But I’m not holding my breath.


Note that the article does not mention any specific formula.  This fits in with the idea that the herbal formula is to be customized for each patient.  Warm Disease Theory (under which H1N1 would fall) classifies disease into four stages.  From early to late, mild to worst, the stages are wei (defensive), qi, ying (nutritive) and blood.  As one can surmise, these stages may be compared to development from acute infection until sepsis.

Each stage even has subcategories, and each has their own recommended formulas.

The great part is that instead of having to go for ludicrously expensive pharmaceuticals, most warm disease theory formulas are made from common ingredients.  These include honeysuckle flower and chrysanthemum.

This is what I love about Chinese herbal medicine, the utter simplicity and beauty of it!

Original article : originally accessed November, 2009.  Most recently accessed December 12, 2013.
Dr. Philip Nino Tan-Gatue

Dr. Philip Nino Tan-Gatue MD, CAc, CMA,is one of the leading experts in Traditional Medicine and Chinese Medicine in the Philippines. Currently, he is a Clinical Associate Professor in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and is Director of Acupuncture Services at The Medical City. Find Dr. Philip on Google Plus , Facebook, Twitter and on

  • I believed of what this article’s trying to reach out. Truly, you have knowledge about medicine and you are the beast.

    • I’ve had a flu shot this year, my first ever! It has proven effective for me. However, I am also a huge believer of natural/ traditional medicine. If only science and medicine will embrace it wholeheartedly; no buts, no ifs.

  • Hay… if only western traditional medical practitioners are willing to integrate non traditional meds. I’ve embraced some non-traditional meds and it has been a constant struggle with my Docs. They always come up with a warning, or they don’t know and are not sure if it’s ok.

    It’s flu season right now where I’m at but I didn’t go for the flu shot. I actually haven’t ever. Thank God, I’ve been good all these years.

  • Joy

    in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with traditional medicines, only that some diseases nowadays mutated into different strains which traditional meds are no longer effective in some ways

    • Also, in the Philippines, I find that traditional remedies aren’t being used properly, and thus are sometimes ineffective. There is proper use and inane use.

  • I believe it is not bad if we think that herbal medicine would heal us if we are sick, since it is more on natural ingredients rather than those harmful ingredients that mixed in one.

    • Forgive me, but I must dispel the myth that natural = safe. Individual ingredients used in Chinese herbal medicine may be toxic, but that’s why they are used in conjunction with others. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

  • haven’t explored much herbal medicine, I guess, back then, there were still not a lot of practitioners in Oriental Medicine to go to, so, we would always go to our physicians for consultations,

  • Chinese herbal medicine is very popular here in Sg. Some people resort to it when they can’t find a cure from modern medicine.

  • partydollmanila

    I believe in Chinese medicine and I’m not surprised that Chinese herbal medicine can help flu related cases. There’s no standard formula in Chinese herbal medicine because there are other factors to consider like age, family history, etc.

  • I grew up in a remote area of Bicol Region and I don’t really remember my parents buying medicine when we get sick or we get booboos, all the medicines came from the herbal plants that we have in the garden.

  • Chinese medicine is really effective, but the sad part is limited lang ang outlet nila.

    • It’s effective if used properly. We are working towards lobbying for the legalization and regulation of Chinese herbal medicine under the FDA.

  • There is no doubt about it, Doc! Traditional Chinese medicines are great! We’ve studied it in our Human Diseases class and even the class Professor testified how famous traditional Chinese medicines are to work well not only with Flu but with many other illnesses as well! I for one am a Ginseng user after it was recommended to me for my Asthma. 🙂

  • The Chinese always have amazing remedies to everything! What makes them even more amazing is that they’re all natural, not to mention effective. 🙂

  • I believe in Oriental medicines and prefer them rather than the Western-made ones.

  • I agree, the simplicity of Traditional Chinese Medicines are more beneficial. Even in Europe, this belief is highly recognized.

  • I believe God gave us all that we need to keep whatever ailment in check – in nature, so yeah herbal medicines (bulong and such not included lol) are really effective…

  • This is really interesting. I agree with Daphne, Chinese has almost a something for everything.