A trial for a Chinese traditional herbal medicine, conducted in Pakistan, has shown an efficacy rate of 82.67% against COVID-19.
Pakistan is currently battling a deadly fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, the country reported its highest number of daily cases in over three months. With cases rising across all provinces, Karachi, its largest city, seems to be weathering the worst of the storm. Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination recently reported a 45.43% positivity rate for Karachi. The number will likely increase further as cases continue to rise. Moreover, the rising hospitalization rates have oversaturated the country’s healthcare system. However, results from the trial of a Chinese herbal medicine might offer some hope for the treatment of COVID-19. And likely reduce the disease burden.
On Monday, the country’s health authorities announced the successful completion of the clinical trial on Jinhua Qinggan granules (JHQG). The trial assessed the safety and efficacy of the Chinese herbal medicine among mild to moderate COVID-19 cases. Conducted at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), the trial recruited a total of 300 patients aged 18 to 75 years. All patients had undergone a PCR test prior to recruitment for confirmation of coronavirus infection and had mild disease.
According to the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Raza Shah, the trial revealed an efficacy rate of approximately 82.67%. Compared to the control group, participants in the treatment group demonstrated a rapid improvement in cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, and muscle pain. Moreover, the herbal granules had no effect on a patient’s laboratory investigations such as liver function tests, urinalysis, or renal function tests.
What are Jinhua Qinggan granules?
In China, Jinhua Qinggan granules are part of the country’s Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19. Previously, the herbal medicine has also helped treat influenza A H1N1 infections.
Produced by Juxiechang (Beijing) Pharmaceuticals, the granules are composed of 12 traditional Chinese medicines: honeysuckle, gypsum, honey ephedra, fried bitter almond, Scutellaria, Forsythia, Fritillaria, Anemarrhena, burdock seed, Artemisia annua, peppermint, and licorice. Studies have shown that the medicine’s formulation not only shortens the duration of illness but also reduces disease progression. Furthermore, it effectively treats symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and cough in COVID-19 patients.
Although the formula’s exact mechanism of action is unclear, experts predict that it reduces the expression of important inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, preventing the ‘cytokine storm’ brought on by SARS-CoV-2 and improving recovery.
However, it is important to note that most studies on the traditional medicine have included a small sample size. Hence, further studies with a larger sample size will prove helpful in providing a complete picture of the medicine’s efficacy and any adverse effects.
An, XueDong et al. “Efficacy of Jinhua Qinggan Granules Combined With Western Medicine in the Treatment of Confirmed and Suspected COVID-19: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 8 728055. 12 Oct. 2021, doi:10.3389/fmed.2021.728055