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Cooperating by traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, exploring the narrative medical treatment of COVID-19

A contribution by Li Bo, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing

After finishing a day of clinical work and walking on my way home, my thoughts returned to the spring of 2003 when SARS raged in the land of China, once left the street empty, let panic spread over the city. As part of Beijing’s medical support for Wuhan, also the second batch of doctors to assist Wuhan in Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, always getting ready has become my daily life for the past 2 months. There is confusion, worry, and excitement in my heart, but more of it is to gradually return to calm, to carry out independent thinking and actual actions.

Recently, I have always kept in touch with Dean Liu Qingquan and Dr. Chen Tengfei who have already rushed to the front line in Wuhan. I have obtained many facts about the front line of medical treatment. The daily news from Wuhan also cause everyone to think and discuss from different angles. In my opinion, the two most important points are the early intervention of traditional Chinese medicine, and the interventional treatment of narrative medicine. These two points also influence and support each other.

First, the remarkable effect of traditional Chinese medicine. In terms of suppressing the fever symptoms of the COVID-19, the enhanced effect of the combination of traditional Chinese and western medicine on antipyretic treatment shows the advantages of traditional Chinese medicine in treating emergencies. This advantage is also supported by clinical trial evidence: a randomized controlled trial of H1N1 treated by Maxingshigan decoction and Yinqiao powder, led by my team, showed that combined traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine can reduce the fever time by at least 30% compared with western medicine alone. The results of this trial were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine[[i]].

The second point is the involvement of narrative medicine. In the diagnosis and treatment, a smile, a slap of encouragement, and a comforting word all convey positive messages and energy. These words and behaviors that warm the heart of the patient are quietly reducing the incidence of severe pneumonia and Case fatality rate. Although this effect cannot be verified by randomized controlled trials, medical narrative can stimulate the autoimmunity of patients and doctors, promote the elimination of the virus and the recovery of the body. This is the truth I firmly believe.

As an ordinary Chinese clinician, I think and practice the future of integrated narrative therapy of Chinese and western medicine in my life and work. I believe that with our joint efforts, the epidemic will end soon and the future will be better.

[i] Wang C , Cao B , Liu Q Q , et al. Oseltamivir Compared With the Chinese Traditional Therapy Maxingshigan-Yinqiaosan in the Treatment of H1N1 Influenza[J]. Annals of internal medicine, 2011, 155(4):217-225.

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