A team of researchers from Fudan University shows that traditional Chinese medicine can serve as a plausible solution to the swine flu outbreaks across the world. The study reveals the potential abilities of Houttuynia cordata to reduce the severity of swine flu virus, allowing a speedy recovery of the victims.
Houttuynia cordata is also known as bishop’s weed. It is a flowering plant native to southern China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. The respective plant is long for the treatment of lung diseases. Furthermore, this respective study shows that Houttuynia cordata polysaccharide (HCP) extract can also alleviate intestinal dysfunction caused by the H1N1 infection.
Today’s modern life and its conveniences cause more widespread transmission of infectious diseases. For example, the world awoke to a global outbreak of swine flu in 2009. It is a respiratory disease that is a subtype of the H1N1 virus.
The researchers employed mice for the experimental study. They infected the mice with the H1N1 virus. The virus caused lung injury, intestinal structural damage, and gut microbiota imbalance in the mice, similar to what was observed in humans.
The clinical symptoms of influenza often include,
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Abdominal pain
The mice were fed with HCP orally. The findings of the study showed significant improvement in the condition of the test subjects. All the infected mice signified poor appetite, a notable decline in weight from the third day of the infection, and diarrhea.
What do the results say?
Following the oral administration of HCP, weight loss and diarrhea were addressed notably. Furthermore, mucosubstances in goblet cells were significantly decreased. Note, these cells are found in respiratory and intestinal tracts. The HCP extract was also seen to suppress Hypoxia. It is a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues resulting from lung damage.
Moreover, HCP extract majorly addressed gut microbiota imbalance. The composition of the complex community of bacteria present in the intestine can be altered by many factors. These may include the use of medications, diet, and, as this study showed, the H1N1 virus.
HCP extract was seen to reverse the composition change in intestinal microbiota. It corrected the imbalance caused by the virus and helped maintain the intestinal function. The extract elevated the production of interleukin-10 or IL-10 i.e. an anti-inflammatory cytokine. Thus, it demonstrated that the plant has anti-inflammatory effects.
Furthermore, the research investigated the effects of Ribavirin as well. It is one of the commercially available antiviral drugs used to treat influenza. The results of the study demonstrated that while Ribavirin helped reduce lung injury, it had no noteworthy effect on intestinal microbiota. Moreover, it offers serious and long-term side effects, such as,
- Hemolytic anemia
- Severe heart disease
- Birth defects for pregnant patients
- Eye problems (trouble seeing, loss of vision, or swelling in the eye)
- Lung problems (trouble breathing or even pneumonia)
- Mood swings (including depression)
- Increased sensitivity to infections
- Hampered growth in children
Contrary to this, HCP exhibited similar effects in addressing lung damage as Ribavirin. However, HCP extract also restored gut microbiota homeostasis. As a natural remedy, HCP doesn’t carry the same side effects as a conventional drug like Ribavirin.
Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest healing systems in the world. Increasingly, modern data analysis has been used to study the effectiveness of TCM, with promising results. This study by researchers at Fudan University is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the effectiveness of TCM.