Article by Cathy Margolin
An article released today from the Ditan Hospital in Beijing reported that, “88 out of 117 patients treated for (H1N1) the disease only on the herbs fully recovered and were discharged.” This is a 75% success rate. What are these Chinese herbs that worked so well? The Deputy Director of the hospital said there were four herbs in the packets given to patients who drank them as a tea and used as a mouth wash. Lonicera Japonica, (honeysuckle flower), Isatis Indigodica, Mentha (mint) and Glycyrrhiza (licorice). All were dosed at 3 grams per serving. These same herbs are available in Chinese herbal medicine shops here in the US.
The first herb, Loniera, is used almost exclusively for prevention and treatment of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections, sore throats and general flu symptoms. It can be used in a vaporizer and inhaled along with the traditional way of ingesting it after cooking (decocting) in water. In one study, 1150 patients were treated for influenza using a combination of herbs which included Lonceria and had excellent results. Using fresh Lonciera is best as it contains the most anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects. As an antibiotic, it has “demonstrated a broad spectrum of inhibitory actions against staphylococcus aureus, E. Coli” and a host of other pathogens.
The second herb in the flu fighting formula is Isatis, otherwise known as Woad root. This herb is categorized as a toxic heat clearing herb in Chinese herbal medicine and is also commonly used for upper respiratory infections. It’s pharmacological effects have been well studied and research supports its success in treating acute sore throats and influenza viruses. Like other Chinese herbs, it is often used in a formula combined with other herbs. Herbs often work more effectively when cooked together with the right combination of other synergistically compatible herbs. People allergic to sulfonamides may have an allergic reaction to this herb, and it is not recommended for those taking Coumadin or any blood thinning medication as it may potentiate this action. However, the risk of any serious interaction is slight. I mention this to emphasize that herbs are strong medicine and should be prescribed and dosed by a qualified practitioner.
The last two herbs in this very simple formula are herbs that I am certain everyone has heard of, but may not have held in high regard for treatment of flu virus such as Swine flu. I hope this article changes that perspective. Mint is seen in nearly every grocery store in the U.S. and we’ve all heard of licorice. Yet these two herbs are not necessarily found in the neighborhood grocery store. You must be certain of obtaining the correct species and there are literally hundreds when it comes to mint. Mentha has quite a history when comes to treating high fever accompanied by flu symptoms. In fact, the original source text on mentha was written in approximately 600 A.D., while the beneficial effects of licorice were documented even earlier. Sore throats, red eyes, and headache are some of the most common symptoms mentha can treat. It is included in many famous Chinese herb formulas as is licorice. Both are considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA. Licorice is one of the most commonly used herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica with volumes of information and research. It is traditionally used to “harmonize” a formula in Chinese medicine, yet it has many therapeutic actions of its own. More than I can list here.
These are four very powerful herbs and together they are more than just the sum of their individual parts. Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital has introduced a H1N1 prevention herbal medicine pack. If you are traveling to China, you may want to pick up a few. Better yet, consult your local Acupuncturist or Herbalist and get your very own powerhouse of herbs custom made for your constitution.
Cathy Margolin is a Licensed Acupuncturist and consumer health advocate with a passion for teaching people how to improve their health through the use of Chinese herbal formulas. She enjoys impacting the lives of readers around the world who haven’t yet experienced the phenomenal health benefits from the ancient wisdom of Chinese herbal medicine. She currently maintains an Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine practice, writes herbal formulas for her patients and works at PACHerbs.com.