Claims that a Chinese herbal remedy can prevent COVID-19 is “inappropriate and illegal,” said the national president of the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada (CMAAC).
But it appears several Chinese medicine stores in Richmond are claiming exactly that.
The Yang Shen Health Food Ltd. near Aberdeen Centre is selling “a Chinese herbal remedy that can prevent anyone from contracting the deadly virus,” a staff person told the Richmond News (via translation) over the phone earlier this week.
As well, a staff member at Gibo Health Food Ltd. on Ackroyd Road said they had a “prescription” that could prevent coronavirus, adding that they got the prescription from Chinese doctors who travelled to Wuhan to treat coronavirus patients.
“Those doctors drank this herbal tea while staying in Wuhan and none of them got sick after returning home,” explained the seller.
Although, staff noted, this medicinal formula can only prevent people from contracting the virus but can’t cure people already infected.
It’s true that Chinese medicine was used in the treatment of coronavirus in China, explained Dr. Cedric Cheung president of CMAAC. However, that was alongside Western medicine, as well as ventilators for supplemental oxygen.
The prescription being promoted at the local health stores mentioned above is sold in small bags, comprising a variety of ingredients, for $12 to $15.
A staff member told the News over the phone that they didn’t formulate these prescriptions themselves. Rather, they followed the information on the official website of the National Health Commission of China, a government department which is responsible for health policies in Mainland China.
But while it may be approved in China, it isn’t in Canada, notes Cheung.
“Practitioners need to be careful when they tell people these herbal teas can heal or prevent the virus because they haven’t been regulated or approved by Canadian health authorities yet,” said Cheung.
In addition, Chinese medicine practitioners are required to do a clinical assessment of their patients before giving them a prescription, said Cheung.
“Chinese medicines work differently from the Western ones. One Western pill might apply to specific symptoms, but we can’t provide the same Chinese herbal remedy to everyone who walks through the door. The (remedy) should be different depending on each patient’s health condition.
“Practitioners need to perform their clinical assessment based on four diagnostic methods: inspecting, listening, inquiring and palpation. Then we can write a detailed Chinese herbal medicine prescription based on this patient’s complexion, vitality and bodily secretions.”
The Richmond stores request that buyers call ahead to order their prescription, however there is no requirement to have had an assessment from a trained Chinese medicine practitioner before purchasing the tea.