Traditional Chinese medicine proves more effective than standard drugs in children with respiratory infections

BEIJING — Traditional Chinese medicine has often been viewed skeptically by the medical community, but a startling new discovery shows it’s actually effective for treating recurrent respiratory tract infections (RRTIs) in children. A group of Chinese researchers found that one particular formula, Yupinfeng (YPF), works in treating kids dealing with RRTIs.

“We wanted to perform a rigorous investigation to understand the therapeutic benefits of YPF. This is why we conducted a large scale RCT, the gold standard of clinical studies, and enrolled patients not from a single center but from multiple hospitals,” says study author Kunling Shen in a media release.

Researchers analyzed 351 children between the ages of two and six with recurrent respiratory tract infections and divided them into three groups. The first group received Yupinfeng. The second group took pidotimod — a conventional allopathic drug to treat respiratory infections — and the third group received a placebo. After eight weeks, researchers examined the proportion of patients in whom the frequency of infections reduced to average levels and also examined the reduction in respiratory infection events and safety in each group.

3 in 4 children saw a benefit from Yupinfeng

Researchers then followed up at the 52-week mark and made an astonishing discovery — 73 percent of children in the YPF group had their RRTIs return to normal standard, while only 67 percent in the pidotimod group had the same improvement. Only 39 percent of the placebo group returned to normal.

Researchers say YPF was not inferior to pidotimod in treating RRTIs and did not produce any safety issues.

“The strength of our study lies in its rigorous design. It is the largest multicenter study to prove that YPF, a TCM, can be as effective as an allopathic drug in treating RRTIs. It is a major step forward in sharing the benefits of TCM with the world,” explains study co-author Rong Ma.

RRTIs are common among children in China, with Yupinfeng serving as a common treatment. The study reveals that traditional Chinese medicine “can be as effective and safe as allopathic drugs, even though we may not fully understand the biological mechanisms underlying their effects.”

In an editorial for Pediatric Investigation, Dr. Julian Allen defends YPF treating RRTIs in children.

“Just because we don’t understand how a drug works, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. This well-designed RCT could be an important step in addressing western skepticism surrounding TCM and reaping the benefits of its holistic effects,” the associate editor of the journal concludes.

The findings appear in the journal Pediatric Investigation.

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