Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (6): 477-487.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.09.004

• Review •     Next Articles

Methodology of network pharmacology for research on Chinese herbal medicine against COVID-19: A review

Yi-xuan Wang a,b, Zhen Yang a, Wen-xiao Wang a, Yu-xi Huang a, Qiao Zhang a, Jia-jia Li a, Yu-ping Tang a, Shi-jun Yue a   

  1. a Key Laboratory of Shaanxi Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine for TCM Compatibility, State Key Laboratory of Research & Development of Characteristic Qin Medicine Resources (Cultivation), and Shaanxi Collaborative Innovation Center of Chinese Medicinal Resources Industrialization, Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine, Xi’an 712046, Shaanxi Province, China
    b Department of Scientific Research, Shaanxi Provincial People’s Hospital, Xi’an 710068, Shaanxi Province, China
  • Received:2022-01-06 Accepted:2022-08-15 Online:2022-11-15 Published:2022-09-22
  • Contact: Shi-jun Yue

Traditional Chinese medicine, as a complementary and alternative medicine, has been practiced for thousands of years in China and possesses remarkable clinical efficacy. Thus, systematic analysis and examination of the mechanistic links between Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) and the complex human body can benefit contemporary understandings by carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis. With increasing attention, the approach of network pharmacology has begun to unveil the mystery of CHM by constructing the heterogeneous network relationship of “herb-compound-target-pathway,” which corresponds to the holistic mechanisms of CHM. By integrating computational techniques into network pharmacology, the efficiency and accuracy of active compound screening and target fishing have been improved at an unprecedented pace. This review dissects the core innovations to the network pharmacology approach that were developed in the years since 2015 and highlights how this tool has been applied to understanding the coronavirus disease 2019 and refining the clinical use of CHM to combat it.

Key words: Chinese traditional medicine, Herbal medicine, Network pharmacology, Compound identification, COVID-19

[1] Fan Yang, Xiao-lan Jiang, Akash Tariq, Sehrish Sadia, Zeeshan Ahmed, Jordi Sardans, Muhammad Aleem, Riaz Ullah, Rainer W. Bussmann. Potential medicinal plants involved in inhibiting 3CLpro activity: A practical alternate approach to combating COVID-19. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(6): 488-496.
[2] Xiang-ru Xu, Wen Zhang, Xin-xin Wu, Hong-qiang Yang, Yu-ting Sun, Yu-ting Pu, Bei Wang, Wei Peng, Li-hua Sun, Quan Guo, Shuang Zhou, Bang-jiang Fang. Analysis of mechanisms of Shenhuang Granule in treating severe COVID-19 based on network pharmacology and molecular docking. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(6): 561-574.
[3] Chia-Wei Lin, Wei-Chen Hsu, Chien-Lu Lu, Su-Hsing Cheng, Cheng-Pin Chen, Yu-Chang Hou. Integrated therapeutic plasma exchange and traditional Chinese medicine treatment in a patient with severe COVID-19: A case report. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(6): 575-580.
[4] Ting Zhang, Qing Zhang, Wei Zheng, Ting Tao, Ruo-lan Li, Li-yu Wang, Wei Peng, Chun-jie Wu. Fructus Zanthoxyli extract improves glycolipid metabolism disorder of type 2 diabetes mellitus via activation of AMPK/PI3K/Akt pathway: Network pharmacology and experimental validation. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(6): 543-560.
[5] Xuan Chen, Chou-ping Han, Wei Zhang on behalf of Writing Group of the Shanghai Expert Consensus on Clinical Protocol for Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of COVID- among the Elderly Population (Second Edition). Shanghai expert consensus on clinical protocol for traditional Chinese medicine treatment of COVID-19 among the elderly population (second edition). Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(5): 427-431.
[6] Han-ting Wu, Cong-hua Ji, Rong-chen Dai, Pei-jie Hei, Juan Liang, Xia-qiu Wu, Qiu-shuang Li, Jun-chao Yang, Wei Maob, Qing Guo. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for COVID-19: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(5): 416-426.
[7] Chun Sing Lam, Li Wen Peng, Lok Sum Yang, Ho Wing Janessa Chou, Chi-Kong Li, Zhong Zuo, Ho-Kee Koon, Yin Ting Cheung. Examining patterns of traditional chinese medicine use in pediatric oncology: A systematic review, meta-analysis and data-mining study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(5): 402-415.
[8] Eduardo Echer dos Reis, Paulo Cavalheiro Schenkel, Marli Camassola. Effects of bioactive compounds from Pleurotus mushrooms on COVID-19 risk factors associated with the cardiovascular system. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(5): 385-395.
[9] Cai-lian Fana, Wan-jun Caib, Meng-nan Ye, Miao Chen, Yi Dai. Qili Qiangxin, a compound herbal medicine formula, alleviates hypoxia-reoxygenation-induced apoptotic and autophagic cell death via suppression of ROS/AMPK/mTOR pathway in vitro. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(4): 365-375.
[10] Ubiratan Cardinalli Adler, Maristela Schiabel Adler, Ana Elisa Madureira Padula, Livia Mitchiguian Hotta, Amarilysde Toledo Cesar, José Nelson Martins Diniz, Helen de Freitas Santos, Edson Zangiacomi Martinez. Homeopathy for COVID-19 in primary care: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (COVID-Simile study). Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 221-229.
[11] Tareq A. Wani, Zahoor A. Kaloo, Nisar A. Dangroo. Aconitum heterophyllum Wall. ex Royle: A critically endangered medicinal herb with rich potential for use in medicine. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(2): 104-113.
[12] Mahlagha Dehghan, Alireza Ghanbari, Fatemeh Ghaedi Heidari, Parvin Mangalian, Mohammad Ali Zakerid. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in general population during COVID-19 outbreak: A survey in Iran. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(1): 45-51.
[13] Jing Hong, Xiao-wan Xu, Jing Yang, Jing Zheng, Shu-mei Dai, Ju Zhou, Qing-mei Zhang, Yi Ruan, Chang-quan Ling. Knowledge about, attitude and acceptance towards, and predictors of intention to receive the COVID-19 vaccine among cancer patients in Eastern China: A cross-sectional survey. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(1): 34-44.
[14] Rakhi Chakraborty, Swarnendu Roy. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors from plants: A review of their diversity, modes of action, prospects, and concerns in the management of diabetes-centric complications. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(6): 478-492.
[15] Shu-yi Chen, Qun-wei Chen, Liu-mei Shou, Hong Pan, Shan-ming Ruan, Zhe-hao Liang, Qi-jin Shu. Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis successfully treated with Chinese herbal medicine Pi-Yan-Ning: A case report. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(6): 555-560.
Full text



[1] Wei-xiong Liang. Problems-solving strategies in clinical treatment guideline for traditional Chinese medicine and integrative medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 1-4
[2] Zhao-guo Li. Discussion on English translation of commonly used sentences in traditional Chinese medicine: part one. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 107-110
[3] Jin-zhou Tian, Jing Shi, Xin-qing Zhang, Qi Bi, Xin Ma, Zhi-liang Wang, Xiao-bin Li, Shu-li Shen, Lin Li, Zhen-yun Wu, Li-yan Fang, Xiao-dong Zhao, Ying-chun Miao, Peng-wen Wang, Ying Ren, Jun-xiang Yin, Yong-yan Wang, Beijing United Study Group on MCI of the Capital Foundation of Medical Developments. An explanation on "guiding principles of clinical research on mild cognitive impairment (protocol)". Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 15-21
[4] Jin-rong Fu. Establishment of multivariate diagnosis and treatment system of modern gynecology of traditional Chinese medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 22-24
[5] Hao Li, Ming-jiang Yao, Wen-ming Zhao, Jie Guan, Lin-lin Cai, Ling Cui. A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of Huannao Yicong capsule in senile patients with mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 25-31
[6] Jun Hu, Jian-ping Liu. Non-invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 31
[7] Yi-ting He, Qing-lin Zha, Jian-ping Yu, Yong Tan, Cheng Lu, Ai-ping Lv. Principal factor analysis of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and their correlations with efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 32-36
[8] Jun Cai, Hua Wang, Sheng Zhou, Bin Wu, Hua-rong Song, Zheng-rong Xuan. Effect of Sijunzi Decoction and enteral nutrition on T-cell subsets and nutritional status in patients with gastric cancer after operation: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 37-40
[9] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[10] Xue-mei Liu, Qi-fu Huang, Yun-ling Zhang, Jin-li Lou, Hong-sheng Liu, Hong Zheng. Effects of Tribulus terrestris L. saponion on apoptosis of cortical neurons induced by hypoxia-reoxygenation in rats. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 45-50