The Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy under the Department of Health has organized a group to study the applications of Chinese medicine in the prevention and treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), committee director Lin Yi-hsin (林宜信) said yesterday.
Lin said that experts of the group will coordinate with epidemiologists to diagnose patients suffering from the form of atypical pneumonia and to train doctors of Chinese medicine in fighting it.
He added that since the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital was quarantined on April 24 due to an outbreak of the disease, the Taipei Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine has offered people who are sealed in the hospital medical advice on how they can strengthen their immune system and what preventive measures against infection should be taken.
The committee will sponsor seminars for the over 4,000 doctors of Chinese medicine and suppliers of traditional Chinese medicine in the country to provide them with in-depth knowledge of the pneumonia, Lin said.
Meanwhile, he called on the public not to take Chinese medicine without a doctor's prescription. He said that eating healthy foods which have no side effects, such as linzhi (a kind of fungus) and green tea are acceptable, but the use of Chinese herbal medicine to cure the ailment is not advisable.
While no drug is expected to be developed to cure the contagion in the short run, for preventive purposes, some people have turned to traditional Chinese herbal remedies, which are known to have a positive effect on the body's immune system.
Lin said that over the past few weeks, herbs such as honeysuckle, banlangen (isatis root), and guan zhong (the shoots from a kind of fern), which are applied by doctors of Chinese medicine to remove heat toxins that supposedly cause fever, sore throat and dry cough, have been selling well and some are out of stock.