Perhaps one of the good things that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that people have rediscovered traditional Chinese medicine, or found a new appreciation for it, how it can be effective, affordable, and helpful for our countrymen, especially those with low purchasing power.
Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corporation President Olivia Limpe-Aw shared this message at the virtual launch of Lianhua Qingwen, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration-approved Chinese medicine for COVID-19. It is registered under the pharmacologic category of traditionally used herbal products, which means that it is considered to be more than just a supplement—it is an actual medicine that can treat symptoms of COVID.
Limpe-Aw is happy to announce that the Lianhua Qingwen, manufactured by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co., one of the top traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) enterprises in China, is now available at Southstar Drug and will soon be available at Mercury Drug outlets (but only those with S3 license) and Watsons branches nationwide.
The business magnate says local government units may purchase the Chinese medicine via their public hospitals, as these medical institutions have S3 licenses, which is a prerequisite of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). “[The LGUs] can contact us directly, and we can sell to their hospitals,” says Limpe-Aw. In the same manner, only doctors with S2 licenses can prescribe Lianhua Qingwen to their patients.
Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue, who is the company’s medical director and also a clinical assistant professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine swears by the efficacy of the drug in treating symptoms related to COVID. He says Lianhua Qingwen is indicated for getting rid of phlegm and toxins, easier breathing, releasing heat, treating epidemic influenza, fever or aversion to cold, muscle soreness, stuffy, runny nose, cough, headache, dry sore throat, and wheezing.
The doctor, who is well-versed both in Western and Chinese medicine, debunks the notion that TCM is plainly based on old wives’ tales and superstition. He says that while it has been around for over 2,000 years, TCM is a complete medical system with its own theories as to health, pathology, diagnostics, and treatment.
“We should understand that the ancient people did not have the same scientific analysis that we have now. They could not explain it the way we do now, but their observations were very, very accurate,” says Tan-Gatue. He cites Lianhua Qingwen Capsules as an example, which come from prescriptions from three dynasties (Han, Ming and Qing), and were proven to be safe and efficacious in treating cold and flu. “The track record for success is there,” he notes.
Dr. Tan-Gatue also presented a research conducted by the Tianjin Key Laboratory of Modern Chinese Medicine, identifying the therapeutic effects of each of the 13 herbs in Lianhua Qingwen. Modern researches, he notes, allow medical experts to know how the formula achieves its therapeutic effect down to the molecular level.
Meanwhile, according to representatives from Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co., data gathered from their research in China indicates that Lianhua Qingwen increases the efficacy in treating COVID symptoms by around 10% compared with other medicines. For the Lianhua Qingwen, the duration of COVID symptoms averages at seven days, and for other medicines, the average is ten days. The former also has an 83% rate of curing the symptoms while for other medicines, it’s 64%, the TCM experts note.
Asked why TCM continues to thrive after over two thousand years, Dr. Tan-Gatue cites two reasons. One, it has been proven to work, and second, there’s always evolution and adaptation. “It’s continuously growing. In that sense, it’s also like conventional medicine,” he says.
Limpe-Aw mentions a third reason—it’s price point. “The suggested retail price for a box of the Chinese medicine is P288 a box [with 24 capsules]. If the recommended dosage is seven days, you would need three boxes, so that’s less than a thousand pesos. It’s very affordable,” says Limpe-Aw.
For safety, Limpe-Aw urges consumers to check the box of the Lianhua Qingwe they are buying to make sure it is the legit version. The FDA approved packaging, she says, comes with English instructions. The leaflets and blister packs are also in English. The box should also indicate a registration number, the generic names of all the 13 herbs, and a barcode.