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  • Traditional Chinese medicine helps fight SARS

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[BEIJING] Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) could play an important role in the fight to control severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) by boosting their immune systems, experts at a seminar in Beijing said on Monday (28 April).

"The guiding principle of TCM is to activate people's potential immunity," said Lin Lin, a pharmaceutical professor at Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. “That can help them overcome attack from viruses like SARS.”

While Western approaches focus on developing antibiotics against the SARS virus, Lin says that TCM can play a faster immediate role than Western medicine, as developing a specific medicine or vaccine will take several months, if not years.

Zhang Zhizhong, a well-known TCM doctor in Beijing, highlighted the value of combining Western medicine and TCM — an approach praised by World Health Organisation officials.

"We can use Western medicine to determine SARS and modern medical facilities such as respiratory machines to help patients live through the hardest attack of the virus. Meanwhile, we must combine TCM to supplement and reinforce patients' immunity," Zhang said.

Since SARS first broke out on the Chinese mainland, TCM has widely been pursued as a prevention method. So much so that the price of raw materials required have escalated in those areas most seriously hit. For example, it has been reported that Tongrentang, the oldest TCM drug store in Beijing, has sold more than 20,000 units of the formula believed to help prevent SARS.

The State Administration of Chinese Traditional Medicine has recommended six formulas helping prevent SARS. But a spokesman has warned that people should not be superstitious about using TCM against SARS.

"They must take TCM in accordance with the recommended formulas and dosages, because it is very difficult for average people to accurately measure the curative effects of certain TCM," he said.

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