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COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-19): Traditional Chinese Medicine including Acupuncture for Alleviation – A Report from Wuhan, Hubei Province in China

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Open Access
OBM Integrative and
Complementary Medicine
Editorial
COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-19): Traditional Chinese Medicine
including Acupuncture for Alleviation A Report from Wuhan, Hubei
Province in China
Fengxia Liang 1, 2, , Gerhard Litscher 1, 2, , *
1. Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, Institute of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Wuhan, 430061
China; E-Mails: fxliang5@hotmail.com; gerhard.litscher@medunigraz.at
2. Research Unit of Biomedical Engineering in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Research
Unit for Complementary and Integrative Laser Medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) Research Center Graz, Medical University of Graz, 8036 Graz, Austria
These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Correspondence: Gerhard Litscher; E-Mail: gerhard.litscher@medunigraz.at
Special Issue: Modernization of Acupuncture Education and Research
OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine
2020, volume 5, issue 1
doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2001009
Received: February 25, 2020
Accepted: February 25, 2020
Published: February 26, 2020
Abstract
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used to prevent and alleviate epidemic
diseases for hundreds of years. The combination of TCM and Western medicine can
effectively reduce fever; alleviate cough, fatigue, diarrhoea and other symptoms of patients
with mild COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease-19). For the treatment of moderate and severe
syndromes, the integrative approach can reduce lung exudation and inhibit the further
development of the disease. However the risk of infection is a limit for example in needle
acupuncture treatment. Computer-controlled laser acupuncture and/or robot-controlled
acupuncture are nowadays not far away from clinical use.
Keywords
COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease); Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (NCP); Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM); acupuncture; laser acupuncture; robot-controlled acupuncture
OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2020; 5(1), doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2001009
Page 2/4
1. Introduction
One important thing in advance: With acupuncture you will not be able to cure coronavirus
disease (COVID-19). However, it seems appropriate to report on different strategies in which
symptoms can be alleviated, as is currently (February 25, 2020) practiced in Wuhan in Hubei
Province in China.
“Coronavirus infections in China continue to swell by thousands a day, prompting
epidemiologists to estimate when the outbreak will peak. Some suggest the climax, when the
number of new infections in a single day reaches its highest point, will happen any time now.
Others say that it is months away and that the virus will infect millions or in one estimate
hundreds of millions of people first.”[1].
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used to prevent and alleviate epidemic diseases
for hundreds of years. Smallpox prevention in China was an epoch-making initiative in the history
of human preventive medicine. Several editions of ‘The Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for Novel
Coronavirus Pneumonia (NCP)’ (COVID-19) have been issued by the National Health Committee of
China. The plan fully attaches importance to the diagnosis and treatment of integrated Traditional
Chinese and Western medicine, effectively guiding clinical treatment work, especially emphasizing
the role of Chinese medicine, and establishing a consultation system of integrated Traditional
Chinese and Western medicine. All over the country, effective treatment of COVID-19 with
integrated Chinese and Western medicine has been carried out. There are also specialized
scientific research institutions, hospitals and enterprises to jointly carry out online consultation of
TCM experts for COVID-19 patients [2, 3].
2. Application of TCM
The ‘National Plan’ guides the clinical practice of TCM treatment as early as possible, reducing
fever, improving cough, asthma and gastrointestinal symptoms in time and effectively, and
improving the cure rate. The combination of TCM and Western medicine can effectively alleviate
the fever, cough, fatigue, diarrhoea and other symptoms of patients with mild NCP. For the
treatment of moderate and severe patients, the integrative treatment can reduce lung exudation
and inhibit the further development of the disease.
3. Application of Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Acupuncture and moxibustion are important parts of TCM. Historically, burning moxa leaves
and moxibustion on acupoints (purulent moxibustion) have been used to prevent epidemics.
Moxibustion, through the stimulation of warming acupoints, has the functions of warming yang,
dispersing cold, activating meridians, strengthening yang and removing toxin, etc. Modern
research on moxibustion has disclosed its obvious effect in regulating immune function and
autonomic nervous system [4].
For further COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis and medical treatment, China Association of
Acupuncture-Moxibustion (CAAM), as a group member of the World Federation of Acupuncture -
OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2020; 5(1), doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2001009
Page 3/4
Moxibustion Societies (WFAS) has organized acupuncture and moxibustion experts to work
immediately, and has formed a group of experts for the prevention and control of the COVID-19.
The group has formulated and published Guidelines on Acupuncture and Moxibustion Intervention
for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (first edition).
Although some research showed that there are antiviral components in moxa, the influence of
smoke will be considered when it is used in the closed environment of the isolation ward, so
acupuncture point application, pressing pills on ear acupuncture points, acupoint pressing and
massage, etc. are more widely used in the practice. The commonly recommended acupoints for
moxibustion and acupoint application are Zusanli (ST36), Guanyuan (CV4), Dazhui (GV14),
Fengmen (BL12) and Feishu (BL13), other acupoints such as Zhongwan (CV12) and Shenque (CV8)
are applied according to the symptoms. The acupoint therapy improves the symptoms such as
poor appetite, coughing, insomnia, headache of the COVID-19 patients effectively [5].
4. Application of Qigong
China has built up to now (February 25, 2020) more than a dozen of temporary shelter
hospitals in Wuhan to treat the patients with mild COVID-19. Some of the patients exercise Qigong
under the guidance of doctors [6]. Qigong can improve the pain situation throughout and fatigue
of the COVID-19 patients.
5. New Technologies in Acupuncture Research
Although TCM can be used sensibly for COVID-19 [7], traditional needle acupuncture has some
limitations. In this special situation, there is the risk of infection as well as practical handling. There
are already alternatives for both. Computer-controlled laser acupuncture is one of the possibilities
[8] and robot-controlled acupuncture [9] is nowadays not far from clinical use. This vision of
“robot-controlled acupuncture” is already a reality [9] as one of the authors (G.L.) has been
reported on the ‘Binhu lecture’ in Wuhan on September 19, 2019 [10].
Acknowledgments
The article has been drafted as cooperative report in Wuhan and additional parts and current
literature have been added from the author from Graz. Professor Fengxia Liang is Director of the
Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion of the Hubei University of Chinese Medicine in Wuhan,
China. She has been Visiting Scientist at the Medical University of Graz in Austria in 2017.
Professor Gerhard Litscher is also Visiting and Honorary Professor at Hubei University of Chinese
Medicine in Wuhan, China and at Hubei Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center of Preventive
Treatment by Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Wuhan, China, respectively.
Funding
There was no funding for this article.
Competing Interests
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2020; 5(1), doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2001009
Page 4/4
References
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prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia. Acta Chinese Med Pharm. 2020;
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6. Liang FX, Huang Q, Chen R, Wu S, Lu G, Liu J, et al. Healthcare-related qigong for the
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8. Litscher G, Litscher D. Scientific aspects of innovative laser medicine. In: Bahr F, Litscher G (eds)
Laser acupuncture and innovative laser medicine. Munich, Germany: Bahr&Fuechtenbusch;
2018. p. 13-77.
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10. Litscher G. From tradition to future of acupuncture - high-tech acupuncture, laser
acupuncture, automated pulse diagnosis, robot-controlled acupuncture. Li Binhu (Li Shizhen).
Lecture at Hubei University of Chinese Medicine; 2019 Sep 19; Wuhan, China.
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... After coronavirus infections in China had increased a thousand times a day in February 2020, epidemiologists already estimated when the outbreak is likely to peak. Some speculated that it will take some months and that the virus is able to infect millions or hundreds of millions of people [11,12]. What some considered unlikely in February 2020 now seems to be confirmed. ...
... Treatment for COVID-19 with integrated Chinese and western medicine has been carried out across the country in China. There were also specialized scientific research institutions, hospitals, and companies that jointly conducted an online consultation of TCM experts for COVID-19 patients [12]. ...
... The combination of TCM and western medicine can effectively relieve symptoms in patients with mild COVID-19. In moderate and severe courses, integrative treatment can reduce lung exudation and inhibit the further development of the disease [8,[12][13][14]. ...
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Stop the Wuhan virus
Stop the Wuhan virus. Nature. 2020; 577: 450. Doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00153-x
Feasibility analysis of early intervention of moxibustion in the prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia
  • P Lu
  • S Wang
  • Z Tang
Lu P, Wang S, Tang Z. Feasibility analysis of early intervention of moxibustion in the prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia. Acta Chinese Med Pharm. 2020; 19: 1-12.
Scientific aspects of innovative laser medicine
  • G Litscher
  • D Litscher
Litscher G, Litscher D. Scientific aspects of innovative laser medicine. In: Bahr F, Litscher G (eds) Laser acupuncture and innovative laser medicine. Munich, Germany: Bahr&Fuechtenbusch; 2018. p. 13-77.
From tradition to future of acupuncture -high-tech acupuncture, laser acupuncture, automated pulse diagnosis, robot-controlled acupuncture. Li Binhu (Li Shizhen)
  • G Litscher
Litscher G. From tradition to future of acupuncture -high-tech acupuncture, laser acupuncture, automated pulse diagnosis, robot-controlled acupuncture. Li Binhu (Li Shizhen). Lecture at Hubei University of Chinese Medicine; 2019 Sep 19;