Which East Asian herbal medicines can decrease viral infections?

Phytochem Rev. 2022;21(1):219-237. doi: 10.1007/s11101-021-09756-2. Epub 2021 Aug 27.


Whilst Western research for the COVID-19 crisis focuses on vaccination, in East Asia traditional herbal prescriptions are studied for SARS-CoV2 therapy. In Japan, Maoto (Ephedrae herba 4 g, Armeniacae semen 4 g, Cinnamomi cortex 3 g, and Glycyrrhizae radix 2 g, JPXVII) is used based on clinical evidence for its effect on early phase influenza (also caused by RNA viruses) comparable to that of oseltamivir. The Health Ministry of Thailand has approved Andrographis paniculata (Jap. Senshinren) extracts for treatment of COVID-19. Its combination (4 g) with Maoto, Maoto-ka-senshinren, seems most promising for the treatment of viral pandemics. In China, the official guideline for COVID-19 treatment contains TCM medications with antiviral, as well as immunmodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects such as: Qing-Fei-Pai-Du-Tang (Jap. Seihai-haidokuto) contains 21 drugs; Shufeng Jiedu Jiaonang (Bupleuri radix 8 g, Forsythiae fructus 8 g, Glycyrrhizae radix 4 g, Isatidis radix 8 g, Patriniae herba 8 g, Phragmitis rhizoma 6 g, Polygoni cuspidati rhizoma 10 g, Verbenae herba 8 g); Fufang Yuxingcao Heiji (Forsythiae fructus 0.6 g, Houttuyniae herba 6 g, Isatidis radix 1.5 g, Lonicerae flos 0.6 g, Scutellariae radix 1.5 g) first gained prominence during the 2002 SARS epidemic. With no Western medicine available, the following overview discusses efficacy and mechanisms in view of viral entry and replication of different East Asian herbal remedies for COVID-19 treatment.

Keywords: Andrographis paniculata; COVID-19; Influenza virus; Kampo; Maoto.

Publication types

  • Review