Herbal treatment shows promise in reducing virus deaths, institute says

  • By Tsai Si-pei and Liu Tzu-hsuan / Personal Reporter, with a personal editor

A Chinese medicine-based herbal formula developed in Taiwan called Taiwan Chingguan Erhau (清冠二號), or NRICM102, could reduce the death rate of COVID-19 cases who show severe symptoms by 50 percent, according to the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine (NRICM) director Su Yi-chang (蘇奕彰) said.

Su spoke about the treatment on Sunday at the International Forum for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Taipei, saying that after the success of Taiwan Chingguan Yihau (清冠一號), or NRICM101, the institute is filing for patents and trademarks for the new wording.

In 2020, permission to export Taiwan Chingguan Yihau was granted, and it has been sold to more than 50 countries with positive responses from overseas, Su said.

Photo: Tsai Si-pei, Taipei Times

Taiwan Chingguan Yihau received emergency use authorization in May last year from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, allowing it to be manufactured and used for clinical treatment in Taiwan.

Eight pharmaceutical companies are licensed to manufacture the formula.

Taiwan Chingguan Erhau is a modification of its predecessor, which includes indigo wood root, heart-leaved houttuynia grass and scutellaria root, among others, Su said.

Ingredients “helpful in fighting viruses” and “regulating the immune system” remain in Taiwan Chingguan Erhau, while stronger substances that “help strengthen the maintenance of health” have been replaced with those with modest effects, a he added.

The Taiwan Chingguan Yihau clinical trials were conducted from May to August last year at 15 hospitals, including Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei Hospital and Taoyuan General Hospital.

The results showed that the risk of people with COVID-19 developing severe symptoms was reduced by 80% if they used the formula, Su said.

During the same period, more than 100 cases with severe symptoms received Taiwan Chingguan Erhau in clinical trials, with results suggesting a 50 percent drop in the death rate within 30 days, he said.

Asking pharmaceutical companies to only target COVID-19 cases with severe symptoms is impractical as the pandemic wanes, Su said, adding that the institute plans to test the usefulness of Taiwan Chingguan Erhau. against other serious lung diseases.

The formula’s effectiveness in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac and pulmonary arrest, and pulmonary embolism is being evaluated, he said.

Su also said that unlike Western medicines that target a single disease, a Chinese medical formula can generally treat many diseases.

Chinese medicine is unlikely to produce side effects or develop resistance in the same way as drugs or antibiotics, he said.

Su said the institute plans to approach companies interested in manufacturing Taiwan Chingguan Erhau and follow procedures for launching new medical treatments in Taiwan.

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