Chinese herbal medicine reduces long COVID

Background: Chronic fatigue is a predominant symptom of post COVID-19 condition, or long COVID. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (TCIM) for fatigue post COVID-19 infection.

Methods: Ten English and Chinese language databases and grey literature were searched up to 12 April 2023 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Cochrane “Risk of bias” (RoB) tool was applied. Evidence certainty was assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE). Effect estimates were presented as risk ratio (RR) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results: Thirteen RCTs with 1632 participants were included. One RCT showed that Bu Fei Huo Xue Wan reduced fatigue (n=129, MD -14.90, 95%CI -24.53 to -5.27), one RCT reported that Lu Dang Shen Wan lowered fatigue (n=184, MD -1.90, 95%CI -2.38 to -1.42), and the other one RCT shown that fatigue disappearance rate was higher with Lu Dang Shen Wan (n=184, RR 4.19, 95%CI 2.06 to 8.53).

Compared to traditional Chinese medicine rehabilitation (TCM-rahab) alone, one RCT showed that fatigue symptoms were lower following Qing Jin Yi Qi Wan plus TCM-rehab (n=388, MD -0.48, 95%CI -0.50 to -0.46). Due to concerns with RoB and/or imprecision, the certainty in this evidence was low to very low. No serious adverse events was reported.

Conclusions: Limited evidence suggests that various TCIM interventions might reduce post COVID-19 fatigue. Larger, high quality RCTs of longer duration are required to confirm these preliminary findings.


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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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