Interview with Qingyun Xu, Licensed Herbalist at Nourish Healing Collective

1) How is Chinese Medicine’s treatment of viruses different from Western Medicine’s?

To understand the difference in treatment between East and West we must first examine their different perspectives of pathogenesis.  Western medicine focuses its attention on the specific virus or bacteria and counteracts that pathogen with a very specific drug or vaccine.  For this reason when a novel virus such as Covid-19 arises Western medicine is slow to overcome it.

Chinese medicine on the other hand does not study pathogens but how the human body responds to them. Each virus or bacteria has a specific nature to it and is divided into these different categories (Wind, Cold, Summer Heat, Dampness, Dryness and Fire).  There are also unique internal factors inside of people that can affect how one responds to one of these pathogenic influences.

Chinese medicine treats the human body as a balanced system. Where there is a problem with the body, the equilibrium breaks down.  Therefore by resuming balance through Chinese herbs, acupuncture, massage, or diet, the body is better able to defend pathogens. Take the common cold as an example.  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) analyzes whether it is wind-heat, wind-cold or dampness invading the human body independent of what virus or bacteria it is.  One common cold virus can manifest differently in different people and therefore will be treated using different methods.  Unique herbal formulas, acupuncture points and foods are recommended to help the individual.



2) From TCM’s perspective, why do different people respond so differently to Covid-19?

The current coronavirus is categorized as a “dampness plague” in Chinese medicine. The dampness toxin invades the human body via the oral or nasal pathway and can travel to four different levels in the body, moving from the exterior to the deep interior.  (the defensive level, vital energy level, nutrient level, and finally the blood level)   With each level comes different and more severe symptoms.  For example, a slight chill, fever and cough have only reached the defensive level but high fever, pneumonia and nausea have made it to the vital energy level.  And finally blood clots and multi-organ failure mean that the pathogen has penetrated to the nutrient and blood  level and is very serious.

The susceptibility to Covid-19 and the severity of infection is correlated to people’s body constitution and current state of health.  If someone is relatively balanced then their body will be better able to keep the virus from penetrating past the defensive level.  And due to the nature of this coronavirus, if someone’s body is already damp or has stagnation it will be more difficult to keep the virus from penetrating to the deeper levels.  Underlying conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases are all examples of what TCM calls damp phlegm and blood stagnation.


3) What is the herbal remedy that’s been helping people recover more rapidly in China? 

As I explained before there is not just one formula that is being used.  Instead each individual’s constitution and specific presentation of the disease is considered when choosing an herbal formula.  For example, herbs that release the virus out of the exterior of the body will be used if there is sore throat and cough; cooling herbs will be used if there is high fever and invigorating herbs will be used if the blood is clotting.  Chinese herbs can be very helpful and if you or someone you love has tested positive they should have an herbal consultation with a qualified practitioner.


4) What can people do to strengthen their constitution to prevent serious illness?

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the digestive system is the foundation of acquiring energy and that diet and lifestyle can significantly affect a person’s body constitution and immune ability.  So in the current pandemic situation it is necessary to eat a proper diet (non-greasy and easy to digest), mitigate stress and have plenty of rest.  Also meditation and  gentle exercise such as walking, stretching  or Tai Chi will keep your energy flowing smoothly.

The following food remedy is helpful as a preventative.


Equal parts fresh ginger, fresh lemon, and honey.

A suitable amount of water.


Boil ginger slices or ginger mud with water first, add lemon slices and honey later. Or you can also boil water, add ginger and lemon slices, and add the honey after the water cools down.

Lemon peel will give a bitter taste after soaking for a long time, please drink as soon as possible.


5) If I or someone I know contracts Covid-19, how can we get help?

I recommend that you schedule an online visit with a licensed herbalist. They can send the herbs to your house.

You can schedule a Telehealth Herbal Consultation for Covid-19 using the link below:

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