Chinese herbal medicine reduces mortality in patients with severe and critical Coronavirus disease 2019: a retrospective cohort study

Front Med. 2020 Dec;14(6):752-759. doi: 10.1007/s11684-020-0813-6. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in patients with severe/critical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this retrospective study, data were collected from 662 patients with severe/critical COVID-19 who were admitted to a designated hospital to treat patients with severe COVID-19 in Wuhan before March 20, 2020. All patients were divided into an exposed group (CHM users) and a control group (non-users). After propensity score matching in a 1:1 ratio, 156 CHM users were matched by propensity score to 156 non-users. No significant differences in seven baseline clinical variables were found between the two groups of patients. All-cause mortality was reported in 13 CHM users who died and 36 non-users who died. After multivariate adjustment, the mortality risk of CHM users was reduced by 82.2% (odds ratio 0.178, 95% CI 0.076-0.418; P < 0.001) compared with the non-users. Secondly, age (odds ratio 1.053, 95% CI 1.023-1.084; P < 0.001) and the proportion of severe/critical patients (odds ratio 0.063, 95% CI 0.028-0.143; P < 0.001) were the risk factors of mortality. These results show that the use of CHM may reduce the mortality of patients with severe/critical COVID-19.

Keywords: CHM; COVID-19; a retrospective cohort study; mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / mortality*
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • China
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Propensity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal