Did US NCBI Confirm Lianhua Qingwen Treats COVID-19?

Did US NCBI Confirm Lianhua Qingwen Treats COVID-19?

Did the US National Center for Biotechnology Information confirm that the Chinese herbal medicine Lianhua Qingwen cures COVID-19?

Find out what the FACTS really are!


Claim : US NCBI Said Lianhua Qingwen Treats COVID-19!

This claim is being propagated by the OneNews Philippines website, through their article US Health Agency Says Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help COVID-19 Patients Recover Faster.

It’s pretty long, so please skip to the next section for the FACTS…

The US National Center for Biotechnology Information said “overall,” treatment with the Chinese herbal medicine Lianhua Qingwen for 14 days resulted in a “significantly higher rate of, and a shorter time to, symptom recovery.”

The United States’ National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIB) stated in a May 16 study that the traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen (also Lianhuaqingwen) “could be considered to ameliorate clinical symptoms” of coronavirus disease 2019.

According to the NCIB, which is part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, 284 COVID-19 patients were randomized to receive the usual treatment alone or in combination with Lianhua Qingwen, with four capsules taken three times a day for 14 days.


Truth : US NCBI Did NOT Say Lianhua Qingwen Treats COVID-19!

OneNews Philippines is apparently the online platform for The Philippine STAR, but this is a shoddy piece of journalism, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : National Center for Biotechnology Information = NCBI

The correct acronym for the US National Center for Biotechnology Information is NCBI.

OneNews Philippines keeps using the wrong acronym, NCIB, in their article.

Fact #2 : NCBI Maintains Databases Of Biomedical Literature

National Center for Biotechnology Information is a branch of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose purpose is to maintain databases of biomedical literature.

They do NOT conduct clinical studies, or peer-review them. Think of them as librarians, not scientists.

OneNews Philippines is wrong to claim that the NCBI conducted a study of the Chinese herbal medicine, Lianhua Qingwen.

Fact #3 : It Was A Chinese Study

The study that OneNews Philippines quoted was actually a Chinese study by Ke Hu et. al.

Registered under the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (no. CTR-TRC-20000029434), this study was conducted between 2-15 February 2020 in 23 hospitals across 9 Chinese provinces.

It had NOTHING to do with the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Fact #4 : Lianhua Qingwen Had Modest Effect On Symptoms

The study did not show that Lianhua Qingwen was capable of treating COVID-19, only that it had modest effect on symptom recovery.

  • time to recover from fever : 2 days, instead of 3 days
  • time to recover from fatigue : 3 days, instead of 6 days
  • time to recover from coughing : 7 days, instead of 10 days

There was NO DIFFERENCE in the viral load, or the risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Fact #5 : NCBI Did Not Endorse Lianhua Qingwen

Just to be clear, the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) did not say that Lianhua Qingwen “could be considered to ameliorate clinical symptoms” of COVID-19.

Neither have they endorsed the use of Lianghua Qingwen in the treatment of COVID-19, even just for faster symptom recovery.

Fact #6 : Lianhua Qingwen Not Approved By US FDA

It was also claimed that the US FDA approved Lianhua Qingwen. That’s categorically false.

Read more : Did FDA Approve Lianhua Qingwen As COVID-19 Treatment?

Fact #4 : Lianhua Qingwen NOT Proven To Cure COVID-19

Despite being approved as a treatment for mild to moderate COVID-19 cases in China, there is currently no evidence that Lianhua Qingwen can cure COVID-19.

That’s hardly surprising because Lianhua Qingwen is merely a mix of herbs :

Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl (Weeping Forsythia) Fruit -27.41mg Lonicera japonica Thunb. (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower-27.41mg Gypsum Fibrosum-27.41mg Isatis indigotica Fort. (Isatis) Root-27.41mg Dryopteris crassirhizoma Nakai (Male Fern) Rhizome and Frond Bases -27.41 mg Houttuynia cordata Thunb. (Heartleaf Houttuynia) Aerial Part- 27.41 mg Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth. (Cablin Patchouli) Aerial Part-9.40mg Ephedra sinica Stapf (Ephedra) Herbaceous Stem-9.14mg Prunus sibirica L. (Bitter Apricot) Ripe Seeds-9.14 mg Rhodiola crenulata (Hook. f. et Thomson) H.Ohba (Bigflower Rhodiola) Root and Rhizome-9.14mg Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. (Liquorice) Root and Rhizome-9.14mg 1-Menthol-7.50mg Rheum palmatum L. (Rhubarb) Root and Rhizome-5.47mg

None of its ingredients have been proven to cure COVID-19, although poor quality studies have demonstrated that it is effective in reducing fever.

And yes, Forsythia is the name of the fake homeopathic cure created by Jude Law’s character – Alan Krumwiede in the medical thriller – Contagion.


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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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