Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and it has become a public health concern worldwide. In addition to respiratory symptoms, some COVID‑19 patients also show various gastrointestinal symptoms and even consider gastrointestinal symptoms to be the first manifestation.
A large amount of evidence has shown that SARS-CoV-2 infection could disrupt the gut microbiota balance, and disorders of the gut microbiota could aggravate the condition of COVID-19 patients. Therefore, maintaining the gut microbiota balance is expected to become a potential new therapeutic target for treating COVID-19.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has significant effects in all stages of the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. It can adjust the gut microbiota and is an ideal intestinal microecological regulator. This review summarizes the advantages and clinical efficacy of TCM in the treatment of COVID-19 and expounds on the relationship between TCM and the gut microbiota, the relationship between COVID-19 and the gut microbiota, the mechanism of gut microbiota disorders induced by SARS-CoV-2, the relationship between cytokine storms and the gut microbiota, and the role and mechanism of TCM in preventing and treating COVID-19 by regulating the gut microbiota to provide new research ideas for TCM in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.