A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) compound formula called Taiwan Chingguan Yihau or NRICM101, which was developed by Taiwan’s National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine (NRICM), and has been selling very well in Europe and America. On May 18, in view of the local outbreak of COVID-19, some pharmaceutical companies received emergency authorization from the Ministry of Health and Welfare to manufacture the compound for clinical treatment in Taiwan. Tsai Chia-i, director of the Department of TCM at the Veterans’ General Hospital, Taichung (VGHTC), says that NRICM101, having received emergency authorization and a license to be manufactured and used for clinical treatment in Taiwan, will be helpful for controlling of the outbreak. He said it is a proprietary TCM formula that is convenient to take. Especially, given that there are currently many mild cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan, NRICM101 can reduce the number of days of illness for patients with mild symptoms, and it can also be used to prevent infection in high-risk groups. As for severe cases, the use of decocted medicine is recommended to make it more effective.
Tsai said that the Tri-Service General Hospital and VGHTC had conducted an evidence-based clinical trial on NRICM101 that analyzed 33 COVID-19 patients, 12 of whom received TCM treatment. The study found that this treatment could reduce fever, stabilize heart and lung function, reduce the number of days in hospital and shorten to about nine days the time needed to achieve three consecutive negative tests. It found that the treatment produced no significant adverse effects or interactions between TCM and Western medicines.
A TCM formula for the 10 herbal ingredients of NRICM101 is currently circulating online. Tsai stressed that although the formula is accessible the public, NRICM101 is classified as a medicine to be prescribed by TCM practitioners. Each patient’s condition is different, so a TCM practitioner must make a diagnosis before giving a prescription. Members of the public should not go to pharmacies, online vendors or other avenues to obtain the medicine on their own, so as to avoid taking the wrong kind of medicine, which could be harmful. The National Union of Chinese Medical Doctors’ Associations commented that if other manufacturers sell their own versions of NRICM101 to the public, they will be in contravention of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and could be prosecuted for medical fraud or other offences.
Photo courtesy of the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine 照片：國家中醫藥研究所提供
NRICM Director Su Yi-chang says that Western medicine is very important for treating patients with severe cases of COVID-19, but the potential of TCM treatment, with its mechanism of action and low occurrence of side effects, is no less than that of any Western medicines currently available on the market. The results of research carried out in Taiwan have been published in international medical journals. NRICM101 is a TCM compound formula composed of 10 herbal ingredients such as indigowoad root and heartleaf houttuynia, which have anti-viral properties, scutellaria root, which regulates immune reactions by acting on cytokines, and other ingredients such as licorice, which can remove fluid that has built up in the lungs.
Regarding the mechanism of action of NRICM101, which is a TCM compound decoction developed by the NRICM, it has been proven that the compound’s ingredients can block viral infection by binding to the spike protein of the novel coronavirus and inhibit the emergence of a cytokine storm. An evidence-based clinical trial of its effects, carried out at the VGHTC and Tri-Service General Hospital, was published in the well-known international journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy in January, and the compound has been successfully exported under a non-exclusive license to the European Union, where demand for NRICM101 has outstripped the supply.
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
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