The Scientific Foundation of Chinese Herbal Medicine against COVID-19
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The recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak has caused a serious global health emergency. Supporting evidence shows that COVID-19 shares a genomic similarity with other coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and that the pathogenesis and treatment strategies that were applied 17 years ago in combating SARS-CoV and other viral infections could be taken as references in today’s antiviral battle. According to the clinical pathological features of COVID-19 patients, patients can suffer from five steps of progression, starting with severe viral infection and suppression of the immune system and eventually progressing to cytokine storm, multi-organ damage, and lung fibrosis, which is the cause of mortality. Therefore, early prevention of disease progression is important. However, no specific effective drugs and vaccination are currently available, and the World Health Organization is urging the development of novel prevention and treatment strategies. Traditional Chinese medicine could be used as an alternative treatment option or in combination with Western medicine to treat COVID-19, due to its basis on historical experience and holistic pharmacological action. Here, we summarize the potential uses and therapeutic mechanisms of Chinese herbal formulas (CHFs) from the reported literature, along with patent drugs that have been recommended by institutions at the national and provincial levels in China, in order to verify their scientific foundations for treating COVID-19. In perspective, more basic and clinical studies with multiple high-tech and translational technologies are suggested to further confirm the therapeutic efficacies of CHFs.
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