Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective on COVID-19 | Part I

While there is a lack of outcome data on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there is a very large prevention trial using TCM in 23 provinces in China at present. 

When you think about the COVID-19 predecessors (viral sibling SARS-Cov1 and its cousin H1N1), it makes sense that TCM is being employed because these viruses are originating in the mainland of China. As a result, we are seeing real-world scenarios being applied for the first time (and at a massive scale) because novel drugs cannot be produced fast enough for novel pandemics. In other words, herbs and ancient ways of treating illnesses are now being utilized as one of the main ways of treatment because there simply is no other option.

Thankfully, in vitro data, trials in humans, Cochrane reviews (one of the highest quality sources of evidence), and perhaps most importantly, a very long historical record of interventions for pandemics is why TCM might lead the way out of this crisis.

Cochrane concluded that some forms of TCM were as effective or more so than pharmaceutical antiviral medication. This has important implications for those highest at risk, especially since vitamins and supplements are literally flying off the shelves as I write this.

Dr. Winston Cardwell, a respected Integrative & Internal Medicine licensed Naturopathic Physician and Acupuncturist who is well versed in ancient TCM, recommends the following herbs during this challenging time when supplies for immune support are running low. I will also add my thoughts on some western herbs that could be of benefit as well. 

Before I begin, I want to be clear that the ideal scenario is an evaluation by a trained Chinese Medicine clinician who gives individualized herbal “prescriptions” (we hold this in high regard in Integrative & Functional Medicine). If access to a TCM provider is limited, however, Chinese formulas have a long record of effective use in pandemics, including influenza and SARS Coronavirus, and are worthy of our consideration as Western trained clinicians.


Chinese Medicine Considerations for COVID-19:

In 2020 scientist Luo and his colleagues examined three studies using TCM during the SARS Coronavirus pandemic. They found not a single person in the TCM-prescribed groups developed SARS Coronavirus. The largest of these studies (n = 3,561) was in Beijing, followed by another in Hong Kong (n = 1,063). All participants were healthcare providers working on the front lines of SARS Coronavirus. The common intervention used in both groups was Yu ping feng powder, very close to the patent Chinese formula recommended by Dr. Cardwell called Jade Windscreen. The top ingredient in Jade Windscreen is astragalus.

Western botanicals shown to be active against SARS Coronavirus (both in vitro and in vivo) include (Lin et al., 2014):

Remember to be mindful when purchasing high-quality products and supplements. Purchasing the whole/plant herb is usually not an option for those of us in the West (simply because they are not conventionally grown to the extent they should be). Furthermore, we lose efficacy when we apply our Western model to Eastern medicine. However, do not panic or fear. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and the botanicals I listed above are great antivirals.


Prevention of COVID-19 can be simple:

Information regarding the origin of the virus and how it is spread through the consumption of animal protein as discussed in the video may be warranted along with information on how to strengthen the immune system by not damaging the gut microbiome/GI function through diet (i.e, animal protein, sugar, bread, alcohol, coffee, etc) and drugs such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, PPI's, OCPs, etc. For our recent talk, click on the following link:

VIDEO: How Not To Get Sick From Coronavirus


Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health and that of the Planet.

Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns.  And we take it a step further. We understand how you fit into the environment around you. We help our patients reverse disease by better understanding how the body optimally functions and providing personalized treatment plans—a plan that removes a lot of the common food items that are making them sick.  To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.


Lin, L. T., Hsu, W. C., & Lin, C. C. (2014). Antiviral natural products and herbal medicines. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 4(1), 24-35.

Luo, H., Tang, Q. L., Shang, Y. X., Liang, S. B., Yang, M., Robinson, N., & Liu, J. P. (2020). Can Chinese medicine be used for prevention of corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? A review of historical classics, research evidence and current prevention programs. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 1-8.

Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is one of U.S.'s top leading integrative functional medical physicians and the founder of San Francisco' top ranked medical center, SF Advanced Health. Her well-experienced holistic healthcare team collaborates together to deliver whole-person personalized care and combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine. By being an expert of cell function, Dr. Bhandari defines the root cause of illness and is able to subside any disease within weeks to months. She specializes in cancer prevention and reversal, digestive & autoimmune disorders. Dr. Bhandari received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1997 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from West Virginia University. She the completed her Family Medicine residency in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts and joined a family medicine practice in 2005 which was eventually nationally recognized as San Francisco’s 1st patient-centered medical home. To learn more, go to

You Might Also Enjoy...

Weight Loss Program for Women

Struggling to lose weight? Inflammation might be to blame! Inflammation can result in abnormal cellular responses, leading to abnormal blood circulation, poor digestion, brain fog, thyroid and adrenal hormone imbalances, and more. Get support now.

How Our Diet Affects Our Mood

Studies show that the food we eat affects the chemical composition of our brain and alters our mood. Our diet affects our cognitive capabilities, including alertness and the release of neurotransmitters. We can change our mood by changing our diets.

How to Optimize Gut Health

Our gut bacteria, which is unique to us, keeps us healthy, aids digestion, helps regulate body rhythms, and even improves our mood. Here is what we can do to optimize our gut health, and thus overall health.

Addressing the Root Causes of Chronic Skin Issues

Chronic skin diseases are extremely common. The skin acts as an indication of our health, letting us know there is a problem that needs closer attention. We cover the basics of skin issues and useful tips for treating chronic skin conditions.