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!