Herbal Medicine for COVID-19
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are made on the global level to arrive at a cure or treatment for the disease.
In a press conference held mid-April 2020, Chinese officials announced that there were herbal drugs that were approved to be marketed as a possible treatment to COVID-19 symptoms.
These herbal drugs are Lianhuaqingwen, Jinhuaqinggan, and Xuebijing. Lianhuaqingwen comes in capsule form and Jinhuaqinggan comes in granule forms, and both are marketed for use for mild conditions.
Xuebijing, on the other hand, comes as an injectable and is marketed for use in severe conditions.
These are the drugs believed to “treat” COVID-19 in China and are said to alleviate the patient of symptoms including cough, fatigue, and fever. Allegedly, it also reduces the probability of the patient’s sickness from exacerbating.
However, no further details were discussed.
Risks of COVID-19 Herbal Treatments
Before we discuss the problems behind these herbal COVID-19 “treatments,” it is important to remember that, as of writing, there are no drugs that have been documented by internationally recognized peer-reviewed scientific journals to be of high-quality or which have passed clinical trials.
This is to say that there are no drugs, herbal or otherwise, that have substantial evidence proving their efficacy against COVID-19.
In-vitro investigations, which is the administering of these herbal “treatments” done on consenting patients, and anecdotal investigations are the only standards of evidence for these herbal treatments.
Knowing that such a gap in current knowledge exists makes it irresponsible to market these as treatments for such a disease.
These may lead to adverse consequences considering no significant research has been made to evaluate the risks of using these drugs.
That is exactly what happened with Xiyanping, an injectable herbal drug that was green-lighted by the Chinese Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol of COVID-19.
After its release and announcement as a treatment against COVID-19, it was recalled for harmful side effects.
Flaws in the Treatment’s Reputation
Some may argue that these drugs are safe because they are widely used. However, this assumption is false considering all drugs that have a degree of efficacy carry their risks.
Additionally, the fact that these have been used for decades or even centuries does not imply that they are safe for use against a new disease, and COVID-19 is one of these novel diseases. In the end, these treatments are still unreliable and remain unproven.