The role of Chinese medicine in COVID-19 pneumonia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Am J Emerg Med. 2020 Oct;38(10):2153-2159. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.06.069. Epub 2020 Jul 8.


Introduction: Chinese medicine (CM) has been used to treat Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia in China. This meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of CM in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving CM in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia were identified from Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, EMBASE, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chinese Biomedical Database, Wanfang Database and VIP Information Database. The methodological quality of trials was evaluated with Cochrane Hanadbook criteria, and the Cochrane Collaboration's Review Manager 5.3 software was used for meta-analysis.

Results: A total of 7 valid studies involving 681 patients were included. The meta-analysis exhibited in comparison to conventional treatment, CM combined with conventional treatment significantly improved clinical efficacy (RR = 1.21, 95% CI [1.08,1.36]), and significantly increased viral nucleic acid negative conversion rate (RR = 1.49, 95% CI [1.13,1.97]). CM also prominently reduced pulmonary inflammation (RR = 1.27, 95% CI [1.12,1.44]), and improved host immune function (WBC, MD = 0.92, 95% CI [0.07,1.76]; LYM, MD = 0.33, 95% CI [0.08,0.57]; LYM%, MD = 2.90, 95% CI [2.09,3.71]; CRP, MD = -12.66, 95% CI [-24.40, -0.92]). Meanwhile, CM did not increase the incidence of adverse reactions (RR = 1.17, 95% CI [0.39,3.52]).

Conclusion: According to the allocated data, CM has demonstrated clinical efficacy and safety on COVID-19 pneumonia, which need to be confirmed by high quality, multiple-center, large sample randomized controlled trials.

Keywords: COVID-19 pneumonia; Chinese medicine; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / drug therapy*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal