Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine Could Be 'Poor Man's Tamiflu'

Flu med face-off: A study comparing Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and the traditional Chinese medicinal decoction Maxingshigan–Yinqiaosan has shown both medicines are equally effective in treating H1N1 influenza.

The study, funded by the Beijing Science and Technology Project and the Beijing Nova Program, set out to measure whether the duration of flu-caused fever would be affected by the type of medicine H1N1-sufferers were given.

The study, published in the August 16th issue of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, was rather wide-ranging with 11 hospitals in 4 Chinese provinces participating. A total of 410 young adults between the ages of 15 and 59 years who had been diagnosed with H1N1 influenza provided the sampling group.

Maxingshigan–Yinqiaosan decoction is composed of 12 different Chinese herbal  ingredients.

One of these is honey-fried Herba Ephedra, sourced from a botanical shrub and which has been used to treat the common cold in China for many centuries. It's also the natural source of the antihistamine Ephedrine.

In the comparison study, some H1N1 patients were given 200ml of Maxingshigan–Yinqiaosan 4 times daily while others were treated with 75mg of Oseltamivir twice a day. A third group of subjects received a combination of the two medicines and all treatment regimens were maintained for 5 days.

Upon analyzing and interpreting data recorded during the study, it was shown that both Oseltamivir and Maxingshigan–Yinqiaosan acted in an equal manner to reduce and ultimately eliminate fever in the patients infected with the H1N1 virus.

Interestingly, those patients who received both treatments experienced fever relief the quickest.

Proponents and champions of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) will be pleased to know that Maxingshigan–Yinqiaosan is a viable (and possibly less expensive) alternative to Tamiflu in treating fever associated with H1N1 influenza. (via Reuters and the ACP's Annals of Internal Medicine)