Context: In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency of international concern. Since no effective and sustainable treatment was available for COVID-19, patients felt an overwhelming and desperate need to seek alternative treatments. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been gaining popularity outside of Asian countries, especially in Africa. However, no studies have been conducted on African patients’ views of the use of TCM to treat various illnesses, including COVID-19.
Objective: The study aimed to explore South African patients’ views of and experiences with TCM for treating COVID-19 infections.
Design: The study adopted a qualitative research approach located within the interpretivist paradigm. A single case-study design was employed to investigate the views and experiences of ten post-COVID patients on the use of TCM to treat the disease.
Setting: The research setting was a TCM practice in Gauteng province in South Africa, with two registered TCM practitioners.
Participants: Participants were ten post-COVID patients who had had pneumonia and who used TCM to treat the disease.
Results: TCM was effective and inexpensive for COVID-19 treatment. Some challenges were revealed for the adoption of TCM in South Africa, including patients’ lack of TCM knowledge and the inaccessibility of TCM services.
Conclusions: TCM was beneficial in treating COVID-19 pneumonia. Public awareness of TCM should be promoted, especially as an alternative treatment for COVID-19 in South Africa.