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Chinese Medicine Lianhua Qingwen: The Cure for COVID-19?

Many people have been infected with the COVID-19 virus around the world, and all eyes are on the search for a cure. In this endeavor, a potential option has emerged: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), specifically the medicine, Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang. Many patients claimed to have been healed by taking it. 

So, does the TCM medicine, Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang, help treat COVID-19 patients or not? Let’s explore that.

Weeping forsythia is one of the ingredients used in Lianhua Qingwen. Photo courtesy of

Some Traditional Chinese Medicine basics 

At a recent online event, experts discussed COVID-19 and Lianhua Qingwen in depth. The event was sponsored by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical and the Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corporation.

According to Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical vice president Yunling Zhang, there have been around 300 epidemics, occurring about once every 6 years. And in the 3,000 year history, Traditional Chinese Medicine has played a very important role in the fight against epidemics, she said, as interpreted by a translator at the event.

Now, it’s crucial to understand some basics about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

In TCM, medicine and the symptoms of diseases are characterized by two types of nature: hot and cold. To cure a symptom of hot nature, one must treat it with a medicine that is of cold nature to balance out the heat caused by that disease. Similarly, to treat a disease of cold nature, one must use a medicine of hot nature. In TCM, it’s all about balance.

So, as an example, if a patient with a cough goes to the doctor, and the doctor diagnoses the condition as hot, he or she will prescribe a medicine of cold to cure the hot nature. 

How Lianhua Qingwen may help COVID-19 patients

COVID-19 is an external invasion of wind-heat, which means it’s something you get from the environment that you breathe in and causes highly inflammatory symptoms, according to speaker Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue. Tan-Gatue is a medical director of the Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corp. and clinical assistant professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.

COVID-19 also has an element of constrained qi, according to Tan-Gatue, a TCM-specializing physician. He relates it to driving a car: It’s like stepping on the gas pedal, but having the hand brake up and you’re not moving. There is heat — not because there is fire — but because something that is supposed to move freely is not moving; it’s stuck. That is like constrained qi. This constrained qi produces heat in the body.  

So, according to him, you need one herb to treat the fire and one to bring out the qi.

Lianhua Qingwen is a medicine of cold nature, and it relieves “toxic lung heat.” “Toxic” can be thought of as pus and “lung heat” refers to a high level of heat in the lungs. So, if a COVID-19 patient experiences symptoms of hot nature as a result of constrained qi, then Lianhua Qingwen may help treat those symptoms.


The real Lianhua Qingwen must contain the registration number, THPR-50, located on the lower right side of the white box.

Will Lianhua Qingwen work for everyone?

Many COVID-19 patients experience different symptoms of the disease. In addition, these symptoms may change very quickly. A symptom of hot nature on Tuesday — which Lianhua Qingwen may help treat — can become a symptom of cold nature on Wednesday — which Lianhua Qingwen may worsen.  

Tan-Gatue also spoke of these differing natures. “Chinese medicine recognizes that just because there’s inflammation, doesn’t mean there’s only one kind of inflammation,” he said.

Hence, Lianhua Qingwen may not help treat every COVID-19 patient and his or her symptoms.


According to Yiling Pharmaceutical, Lianhua Qingwen is 83.8 percent effective in treating COVID-19 symptoms and for other medicine, it’s around 64 percent.


Important precautions

In order to buy Lianhua Qingwen, the Philippine government currently requires people to have a prescription from a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) S2 licensed medical doctor. An S2 licensed medical doctor  can prescribe “dangerous drugs.” However, the company is coordinating with the government to reclassify the product from a dangerous drug to an over-the-counter drug. “There is a request pending for that, due to the need of the times,” said Olive Limpe Aw, President of the Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corporation. 

On that front, she said one of the challenges has been that “the principles behind Chinese medicine [are] not exactly the same as Western medicine.” Nonetheless, she added, “What really drove us is the desire to bring in something that could help.”

She also cautioned that people should be wary of illegal and unregistered sellers. Limpe Aw shared how to authenticate the real Lianhua Qingwen from a fake one. First, the box, the instructions, the leaflets, and the blister pack must all be in English and not in Chinese. That would be the one approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the Philippines. Second, the box itself must contain the following: the names of the 13 herbs used and the product’s registration number, THPR-50. 

Precautions should be taken, but Lianhua Qingwen may be effective in treating the symptoms of COVID-19 in many patients. According to Yiling Pharmaceutical, Lianhua Qingwen is 83.8 percent effective in treating COVID-19 symptoms and for other medicine, it’s around 64 percent. In addition, with Lianhua Qingwen, the duration of COVID-19 symptoms averages at 7 days and for other medicine, it’s 10 days, according to Yiling Pharmaceutical.

Lianhua Qingwen may be a very promising product in the fight against COVID-19 in the Philippines and other parts of the world. It has been approved by many countries, including Canada, Singapore, and more. 

Lianhua Qingwen is available at Southstar Drug and soon, in Watsons and select Mercury Drug stores in the Philippines. SRP is P288 per box. According to Limpe Aw, on average, patients may need approximately 3-4 boxes, which amounts to P864 to P1,152 only.


Author’s note: Last August, I had the pleasure of personally interviewing Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue. That interview produced the article, A Medical Doctor Answers Our MOST CURIOUS Lianhua Qingwen Questions, a light and easy read answering FAQs on the topic and on Traditional Chinese Medicine in general.


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

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