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Traditional Chinese medicine proves effective against SARS
   CCTV.COM   2003-06-07 11:06:15   

    In the battle against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), traditional Chinese medicine, once regarded as outdated or effective only against chronic diseases, has proven to be one of the most powerful weapons.

    With several thousand years of history, today's traditional Chinese medicine is the result of wisdom and experience garnered from a great number of doctors over many years. The medicine has protected Chinese people from many illnesses.

    However, with the introduction and rapid development of modern medicine, some have begun to doubt the effectiveness of traditional medicine, citing its "mystic and strange nature" and mysterious chemical composition.

    As a result, in the early stages of the SARS outbreak, traditional Chinese medicine was sidelined, and people were made to believe that it could help prevent the disease, but had little to contribute to its treatment.

    This view has since been proven inaccurate as a result of the experience of south China's Guangdong Province, where the first SARS case was reported.

    The Guangdong Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, one of the country's first to admit SARS patients, has succeeded in curing 105 of the total 112 patients it admitted.

    "While there is still no specific cure for SARS, traditional Chinese medicine, which advocates the reinforcement of good elements and the elimination of bad, evil elements, has played an important role in treatment," said Luo Yunjian, vice president of the Guangdong hospital.

    The Chinese capital Beijing, the city hardest hit by SARS in April and May, learned from Guangdong.

    All 16 local hospitals in Beijing designated for the exclusive treatment of SARS patients were required to combine modern medicine with traditional Chinese medicine in fighting the disease. Doctors said that nearly half of the SARS patients in these hospitals had taken herbal medicine as part of their treatment.

    "Traditional medicine has been effective in bringing down fever and clearing lung shadows," said Liu Dequan, director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Division of the Beijing Thoracic Diseases Hospital. Two weeks ago, the hospital discharged its first group of recovered SARS patients, all of whom had been treated with a mix of modern and traditional medicines.

    Sources from other Beijing hospitals said traditional Chinese medicine helped reduce SARS-related symptoms, diminish inflammation and alleviate side effects from antibiotics and hormones.

    Patients who took herbal medicine usually recovered faster than those who didn't and faced less risk of suffering secondary infections, they added.

    "In this fight against SARS, traditional Chinese medicine and modern medicine have stood side by side and played their respective roles to the fullest," said Huang Mingda, executive director of the science and technology cooperation center under the China Research Institute on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    While modern medicine targets specific symptoms of the disease and is used to preserve the patient's life, traditional Chinese medicine readjusts the patient's physical condition and promotes early recovery in a balanced way, he elaborated.

    In late May, Chinese medical authorities formally recommended eight kinds of ready-made traditional Chinese medicine as "effective for SARS treatment".

    In recognition of the contributions made by traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, the director of the country's anti-SARS campaign, called it "a crucial force in combating SARS."

    Over the past couple of weeks, a panel of experts on the treatment of SARS with traditional Chinese medicine was formed in Hong Kong, and scholars from both sides of the Taiwan Straits held a symposium to discuss the role of traditional Chinese medicine in preventing and treating the disease.

    Some Chinese experts are calling for the early inclusion of traditional Chinese medicine in China's State Health Care Program, as traditional medicine is far less costly than modern medicine in treating most diseases.

    "It's imperative to establish a traditional-medicine-based disease prevention and control system with Chinese characteristics, so as to exploit the full potential of traditional medicine in the public's health care," said Huang Mingda of the China Research Institute on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Editor: Hope  Source:Xinhua

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