Chinese Herbs Treat H1N1 Swine Flu

Chinese Herbs and Swine FluA study of 410 young adults has found that a Chinese herbal combination called maxingshigan-yinqiaosan treats H1N1 virus infections more successfully than the conventional drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

The study, published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine and conducted at the Capital Medical University in Beijing, gave infected adults aged from 15 to 59 years old either the Chinese herbal combination or the conventional drug Tamiflu in eleven hospitals throughout China during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak.

The researchers analyzed the outcome of the H1N1 illness and how quickly the patients’ fevers resolved. They also gauged recovery by other symptom scores and tested viral shedding using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis.

The group taking the Chinese herbal medication had 37% faster fever reduction over untreated patients, while oseltamivir (Tamiflu) reduced fevers by 34% over the untreated group. Furthermore, combined treatment with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and the Chinese herbal formula reduced fevers by 47%, and 19% sooner than oseltamivir alone.

Within 72 hours of their H1N1 symptoms, patients began treatment under the care of a physician. The patients, with an average age of 19, were divided into four groups. One group received no treatment. Another group was given 75 milligrams of Tamiflu two times a day. The third group was given 200 milliliters of the maxingshigan-yinqiaosan formula, and the last group received both the Tamiflu and the maxingshigan-yinqiaosan formula doses together each day.

The Chinese herbal formula maxingshigan-yinqiaosan is a blend of 12 herbs, used traditionally in Chinese medicine to reduce fever, inflammation and influenza. The herbs within the formula are: qing hao (artemnesia), yin hua (honeysuckle), gan cao (licorice root), ephedra, zhi mu (anemarrhena), shi gao (gypsum), huang qin (baikal skullcap), chao xingren (apricot seed), lian qiao (fruit of forsynthia), niu bangzi (burdock), bo he (mint) and zhe bei mu (fritillaria).

Most of these herbs are available for sale as supplements in the U.S., with the exception of ephedra. The sale of ephedra products in the U.S. was restricted in 2003, due to injuries caused by its use in weight loss formulations – which supplement manufacturers characterized as use outside recommended dosages. Some herbalists have suggested that the formulations themselves were at fault. Ephedra has a record of safety among Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Oseltamivir, produced by Roche under the trademark Tamiflu, is considered by the CDC, the World Health Organization and other agencies as the ‘go-to’ medication for treating H1N1.

However, the H1N1 virus has become increasingly resistant to oseltamivir. The World Health Organization reported that 314 strains of the H1N1 virus had become resistant to oseltamivir as of December 2010. In addition, Tamiflu is not always available to doctors in some parts of the world. Side effects of oseltamivir have included: Nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, rash, and others.

Herbal medications work differently within the body, according to researchers and traditional doctors. Herbal medications stimulate the body’s own immune system, often specific to fighting a current infection. Many herbal formulations, such as the one tested in this study, have been used safely among millions of patients over many centuries.


Wang C, Cao B, Liu QQ, Zou ZQ, Liang ZA, Gu L, Dong JP, Liang LR, Li XW, Hu K, He XS, Sun YH, An Y, Yang T, Cao ZX, Guo YM, Wen XM, Wang YG, Liu YL, Jiang LD. Oseltamivir compared with the Chinese traditional therapy maxingshigan-yinqiaosan in the treatment of H1N1 influenza: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Aug 16;155(4):217-25.

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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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