Chinese Consumers Clear the Shelves of Clinically Non-Proven Herbal Medicine

Feb 2, 2020 | China, Coronavirus, Herbal Medicine, Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid

Chinese Consumers Clear the Shelfs of Clinically Non-Proven Herbal Medicine

Two medical research institutions in China announced that a preliminary study showed that Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid, a common herbal flu medicine, could potentially inhibit the growth of the novel coronavirus that is rapidly spreading in that country and beyond. However, irrational waves of purchases of this unproven drug followed. Hence, calls in China, to not take the substance until more is learned.

Early Stage Findings

Two centers, the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, made the discovery that Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid may be effective against the coronavirus.  But these are at the very early stages and require clinical trials for verification, reports Global China Daily.

The Problem

The Coronavirus has claimed 259 lives and infected 11,821 people as of this last Friday. Two major academic research centers published that an herbal medicine could potentially inhibit the new coronavirus. The public went on a consumption spree for a product that is not proven.

Mayhem Online

Chinse consumers in certain areas went on a consumption binge buying up the unproven treatment because there heard prominent academic medical centers speaking on the topic. Chinese social media revealed long lines of Chinese at local pharmacies to buy the remedy now fully in “viral” mode. Recent searchers for the product known as Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid on e-commerce platforms from Taobao, JD and Suning produced absolutely nothing has the products have either sold out or the product has been pulled from the platform. 

Moreover, there was some serious confusion over product because of a common name. Shuanghuanglian is also a name for a poultry farm medicine and apparently, a considerable number of consumers mistakenly purchased this wrong drug intended for animal use.

A popular health information exchange platform known as Dingxiang Doctor, published pleas to not use the oral remedy for viral protection and cure. They declared that there was a lack of clinical evidence for the drug.

The Clinical Trial

The study will occur at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and at the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hebei province.

What is Shuanghuanglian?

According to Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD, Director Institute for Traditional Medicine, in Portland, Oregon, Shuanghuanglian (SHL for short) is a modern formula that was devised in the 1960s to treat a variety of infections. It is comprised of the alcohol-water extracts of three herbs: lonicera (shuanghua, often called jinyinhua), scute (huangqin), and forsythia (lianqiao). The joining of forsythia and lonicera in a formulation represents a long tradition of Chinese herb prescribing for treatment of infections. The addition of scute in this small formula represents one of the newer developments of Chinese medicine, especially based on research involving its main active constituent, the flavonoid baicalin (see Appendix). Typically, in the ancient style formulas, lonicera and forsythia would be combined with various wind dispelling, surface relieving herbs, as is done in the well-known Yin Qiao San; in this case, they are combined with the heat clearing herb scute.

Adverse Events

The compound is known to cause a number of side effects from skin rashes and itching to vomiting and diarrhea and hence is not nearly ready for the market. In fact, in 2018, the Chinese National Medical Products Administration banned the injection of the drug for pregnant women and children below age 4 due to risk of allergies, reports Global China Daily.


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