The Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) product Lianhua Qingwen 莲花清瘟 capsules, is readily available in Singapore. While listed as Chinese proprietary medicine in Singapore for the relief of cold and flu symptoms, it should be noted that the product has not been approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to treat Covid-19.
There have been many claims circulating on social media and in Telegram chat groups that the product can protect against Covid-19. These claims are not supported by evidence. There are also articles published on news media in China claiming that the HSA has approved the use of the product for treating Covid. In late 2021, HSA reiterated that these claims are unsupported by reliable independent studies. Let’s take a closer look at some of the studies purported to support the claims.
In January 2021, a pharmacological study jointly conducted by Xiamen University School of Pharmacy and Naval Military Medical University performed investigations into the mechanism of action of Lianhua Qingwen Capsules. However, some studies have pointed out that the efficacy of Lianhua Qingwen is still in doubt.
Further studies were conducted in Macau, Yunnan and Sanya (Hainan). However, sample sizes were curiously small and there were no independent observers present. In the research paper led by the renowned Chinese medical expert Dr Zhong Nanshan, Dr Zhong did not declare his vested interests and his relationship with Yiling Pharmaceutical Company. It is understood that in September 2019, Wu Yiling, founder of Yiling Pharmaceutical and Dr Zhong Nanshan jointly established the “Nanshan-Yiling Respiratory System Joint Research Centre” in Guangzhou.
Dr Zhong Nanshan told the media: “After looking at these studies, I have the confidence and evidence to say that Lianhua Qingwen is really effective (against Covid).”
Dr Zhong specifically mentioned that it has been confirmed through experiments that Lianhua Qingwen promotes repair on cell damage and inflammation caused by the virus.
Sales for the product and stocks in the company soared immediately after Dr Zhong made his statement.
Singapore HSA approves the use of the product to treat cold and flu symptoms but does not support any of the claims that the product can be used to treat or prevent Covid-19. You can read HSA’s statement here. This is in response to misleading articles on Chinese media like this one.
莲花清瘟胶囊 purportedly contains 13 herbs. However, an independent Swedish lab analysed the product and found that the only constituent that is present in significant quantity is peppermint. You may be better off drinking mint tea.