Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (5): 416-426.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.06.006

Special Issue: COVID-19

• Systematic Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for COVID-19: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Han-ting Wua, Cong-hua Jia,b,, Rong-chen Daia, Pei-jie Heia, Juan Lianga, Xia-qiu Wua, Qiu-shuang Lib, Jun-chao Yangb, Wei Maob, Qing Guoa   

  1. a. School of Public Health, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310053, Zhejiang Province, China
    b. The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310006, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Received:2021-12-12 Accepted:2022-05-06 Online:2022-09-15 Published:2022-08-26
  • Contact: Cong-hua Ji

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a rapidly spreading disease that has caused an extensive burden to the world. Consequently, a large number of clinical trials have examined the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for treating and preventing COVID-19, with coinciding proliferation of reviews summarizing these studies.
Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the methodological quality and evidence quality of systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the efficacy of TCM.
Search strategy: Seven electronic databases, including PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chongqing VIP, Wanfang Data and SinoMed, were searched for systematic reviews and meta-analyses in October 2021. Search terms such as “Chinese medicine,” “Lianhua Qingwen” and “COVID-19” were used.
Inclusion criteria: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials that evaluated the efficacy of TCM treatment of COVID-19 were included.
Data extraction and analysis: A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews Version 2.0 (AMSTAR 2) was used to evaluate the methodological quality. The quality of evidence was graded using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) system. Data extraction and analysis were performed by two reviewers independently.
Results: There were 17 meta-analyses included in our overview. The intervention group was defined as TCM combined with Western medicine, while the control group was Western medicine alone. The methodological quality of all the included studies was moderate to poor. A total of 89 outcome indicators were evaluated, of which, 8 were rated as moderate quality, 39 as low quality, and 41 as very low quality. Only one outcome measure was graded as being of high quality. The moderate quality of evidence indicated that, for the treatment of COVID-19, the clinical efficacy of TCM in combination with Western medicine was better, in terms of lung recovery, rate of conversion to severe/critical cases, symptom scores, duration of symptoms, mortality, and length of hospital stay.
Conclusion: Evidence from the included studies shows that, compared with conventional Western medical therapy alone, the addition of TCM to COVID-19 treatment may improve clinical outcomes. Overall, the quality of evidence of TCM for COVID-19 was moderate to poor. Meta-analyses of the use of TCM in the treatment of COVID-19 can be used for clinical decision making by accounting for the experiences of clinical experts, medical policies, and other factors.

Key words: Medicine, Chinese traditional, Integrative medicine, COVID-19, Systematic review, Meta-analysis

[1] Deng-chao Wang, Miao Yu, Wen-xian Xie, Li-yan Huang, Jian Wei, Yue-hua Lei. Meta-analysis on the effect of combining Lianhua Qingwen with Western medicine to treat coronavirus disease 2019. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(1): 26-33.
[2] Jun-peng Yao, Li-ping Chen, Xian-jun Xiao, Ting-hui Hou, Si-yuan Zhou, Ming-min Xu, Kai Wang, Yu-jun Hou, Lin Zhang, Ying Li. Effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for treating functional constipation: An overview of systematic reviews. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(1): 13-25.
[3] Yang-hao-tian Wu, Wen-bo He, Yin-yan Gao, Xue-mei Han. Effects of traditional Chinese exercises and general aerobic exercises on older adults with sleep disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(6): 493-502.
[4] Arthur Yin Fan, Sherman Gu, Sarah Faggert Alemi, Research Group for Evidence-based Chinese Medicine. Chinese herbal medicine for COVID-19: Current evidence with systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(5): 385-394.
Full text



[1] 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
[2] 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
[3] 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
[4] 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
[5] 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
[6] 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
[7] Zhi-chun Jin. Problems in establishing clinical guideline for integrated traditional Chinese and Western medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 5-8
[8] SUN Ming-yu, ZUO Jian, DUAN Ji-feng, HAN Jun, FAN Shi-ming, ZHANG Wei, ZHU Li-fang, YAO Ming-hui. Antitumor activities of kushen flavonoids in vivo and in vitro. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 51-59
[9] Min Cheng, Qiong Feng, Shu-wen Qian, Hui Gao, Cui-qing Zhu. Preliminary assay of p-amyloid binding elements in heart-beneficial recipe. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 68-72
[10] Li Zhou, Hong-xing Zhang, Ling-guang Liu, Wen-jun Wan. Effect of electro-acupuncture at Fenglong (GV 16) on nitric oxide and endothelin in rats with hyperlipidemia. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 89-92