Chinese Herbs To Maintain Healthy Immune System During Cold-Damp Phase of Corona Virus (COVID-19)

Well... (sigh) this corona virus is truly changing EVERYTHING, including our TCM approach to addressing it. 


*Disclaimer: The information in this article is our best opinion on the TCM approach to COVID-19 only. It is NOT medical advice or intended in any way to be a substitute for medical advice. The information provided is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any condition or disease including corona virus (COVID-19). This is merely a presentation of our own research on the TCM principles being applied to understanding of the corona virus (COVID-19) and we could be WRONG. Please use extreme caution when assessing info about this virus and please consult your licensed medical providers for treatment options. None of the statements in this article have been validated or reviewed by the FDA*


As I wrote about in detail in the last article, corona viruses such as SARS and MERS were clinically addressed as Wen Bing diseases or exogenous warm diseases. TCM doctors and researchers started off looking at this corona virus through a similar lens, producing research material based off of studies done during the SARS outbreak and combing the databases of herbs that discharge heat and disperse wind and selecting the best herbs for this purpose. We, like most of the other TCM practitioners and researchers based our formulations for this corona virus on that information. Manufacturers, practitioners, and consumers have all invested in this approach. It was the best we had. 

Now, however, we are getting realtime info from doctors on the ground in China with hundreds of COVID-19 patients. The case reports we have received and the doctors who have been interviewed are giving us new and VALUABLE insight that this COVID-19 corona virus may have two relatively distinct phases. 

Some doctors are saying that in some cases, as the virus progresses, the condition changes from heat to cold.

Therefore, while Phase 1 may manifest as a Wen Bing condition, as the virus progresses into the lungs in phase 2, it may then show up as a Cold-Damp condition invading the lungs. 

Phase 1 is the initial flu-like symptoms. In this stage, it appears that a Wen Bing approach has been helpful, but, if the virus progresses uninhibited to phase 2, it looks like another approach is then needed. Dr. Demeyer of the OLV Hospital in Aalst, Belgium reports that all the COVID-19 patients have the same complaints. "They have been sick for a week, stayed home with the flu. The flu is over, they think. They feel fine for two days. And then they report with complaints of a dry cough and shortness of breath. When we then have their oxygen saturation we see that they have very low oxygen saturation for their age." 

Most people, it seems, who are showing up to the doctor's offices and hospitals are likely doing so in phase 2 of the progression of the virus. 

This means that we need to look at different herbs and formulas now to support the immune system and help the body stay in optimal wellness in a possible phase 2 situation. (This also means that the Wen Bing Defense formula, which still appears to be a great tool for COVID-19 in phase one as well as colds, flus and other types of corona viruses, will not likely be appropriate for phase 2 and practitioners seem to finding more success switching to a Cold-Damp herbal approach for phase 2). Our last post was the best info available at the time and it is what most of the TCM community was working from, but as the latest clinical trials have progressed, we now have better info and better insight, so we can offer better supportive formulas. 

COVID-19 as Shanghan Lun Condition in Phase 2

Now that we understand that COVID-19 likely has a Cold-Damp second phase, we look to traditional Chinese medicine principles of Shanghan Lun for phase 2 (Cold Damage diseases) instead of Wen Bing principles. 

One of the telling symptoms that TCM doctors are noticing with COVID-19 versus other corona viruses is the sticky-greasy tongue coating most of the infected patients present with. This indicated the cold-damp condition of these patients. (Please note that these patients are presenting to doctors with both a tongue coating, dry cough and difficult inhalation, but normal exhalation. Symptoms that seem to be indicating entry into phase 2.) 

For the patients pictured above, the TCM doctor who treated them stated that Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) was pivotal in achieving the exceptional results achieved for all 30 of these patients. 

As several TCM doctors come forward with their personal case studies and more study results are becoming available, it is becoming clear that if we want to use Chinese herbs to support our immune system during phase 2 of this COVID-19 outbreak, we need a Shanghan Lun formula. 

Chinese Herbs for Cold-Damp Shanghan Lun Phase of COVID-19

The main herbs being referenced in the latest studies and patient case studies are: 

Ma Huang is considered in TCM to be acrid, bitter and warm. Its actions are to disperse cold, regulate water circulation, relieve wheezing/cough and ventilate the lung. When we see the COVID-19 virus as cold-damp invasion, it becomes obvious why this herb was most important in the patient case studies above. (Zi Su Ye has similar properties and actions and could be a viable substitute for Ma Huang since it's use can be problematic given certain existing regulations and stigmas).

Ban Xia (Zhi), Cang Zhu, Huo Zhang, Zi Su Zi, and Fang Feng are all acrid and warm herbs that dry or dispel dampness. Gua Lou Shi dissolves phlegm, clears lungs and expands chest. Gan Cao stops cough, eliminates toxins and harmonizes other herbs. Huang Qi, like Ma Huang, regulates water circulation and it is a potent immunostimulant. Dang Shen targets and tonifies the lung, restores constition, tonifies Qi and expels pathogenic factors. 

Plum Dragon Introduces Shanghan Lun Defense Formulas for Fighting COVID-19

For phase 1 immunity and health, Wen Bing Defense formula, Huang Qin Extract  and Wildcrafted Osha Root Extract may continue to provide beneficial support against COVID-19 before it reaches phase 2. 

For phase 2, Plum Dragon has already begun manufacturing of 2 new formulas based on this latest info. We will have a Shanghan Lun Defense liquid extract formula available (hopefully) within a week. This formula is intended for use for those who become exposed or infected to support immunity and overall health only as needed for more acute situations and NOT as a general or longterm use formula. 

For the purpose of more generalized immune support that can be used for longer term health and immune support on a more daily basis, we are offering a new Shanghan Lun Defender Tea (or Soup). 

**Stay tuned to your email (or sign up for our email list if you haven't),  where we will let you know as you as we are ready to start taking orders for these formulas. 

P.S. Thank you so much to all of you in our community (you know who you are) who are continuing to send the latest research and communications to our attention. We welcome all informed feedback so that we can continue to refine and enhance our approach to this virus. This research has been a collaborative effort, from which we all benefit. 

We are truly all STRONGER TOGETHER!


Yang Y, Islam MS, Wang J, Li Y, Chen X. Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): A Review and Perspective. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(10):1708-1717. doi:10.7150/ijbs.45538. Available from

Huang C, Wang Y, Li X, Ren L, Zhao J, Hu Y. et al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Lancet. 2020;395(10223):497-506

Chen N, Zhou M, Dong X, Qu J, Gong F, Han Y. et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Lancet. 2020;395(10223):507-513

Liu J, Manheimer E, Shi Y, Gluud C. Chinese herbal medicine for severe acute respiratory syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2004;10:1041-51

Liu X, Zhang M, He L, Li Y. Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10:Cd004882

Lv RB, Wang WJ, Li X. Treatment of suspected new coronavirus pneumonia with Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen Clinical observation of 63 suspected cases. J Tradit Chin Med. 2020:1-5

Chen H, Du Q. Potential Natural Compounds for Preventing 2019-nCoV Infection. Preprints. 2020

Zhang JW, Hu X, Jin PF. Cytokine storms caused by 2019-nCoV and drug therapy. Chinese Pharmaceutical Journal. 2020:1-9 96

Zhao J, Tian SS, Yang J, Liu J, Zhang WD. Investigating the mechanism of Qing-Fei-Pai-Du-Tang for the treatment of Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia by network pharmacology. Chin Herb Med. 2020:1-7

Xu X, Zhang Y, Li X, Li XX. Analysis on prevention plan of corona virus disease-19 (COVID-19) by traditional Chinese medicine in various regions. Chin Herb Med. 2020:1-7

Chen Juan, Huang Di, Wang Shi, Cai Xiang. Medical Records From A...Traditional Chinese Medice (TCM) Doctor on Fighting the COVID-19. 

Michael Max, Jin Zhao. Treating the Coronavirus with Chinese Medicine, Qi126, Herbal Medicine. Feb 16, 2020 


Nice article and thank you for posting this. TCM is new for me so much to learn.

Reg Overman III March 30, 2020

I’m definitely interested in getting this as soon as possible, please put me on the list. Thank you.

Claire L March 26, 2020

Please add my name for order for Shang Lun drops when they are available. Thank you.

Michael March 25, 2020

This is interesting information. Have you seen this article?

There are a few more floating around on FB threads with similar formulas.

Tobey Williamson March 21, 2020

Please add me to the list to get the herbs this is great information!!

Laurelle Sharpe March 21, 2020

Very interesting. Thanks for the info Plum Dragon. The two distinct phases bring up the possibility of this being a man made spliced virus that escaped, intentionally or accidentally, the biowarfare labs in Wuhan.

Dano S. March 18, 2020

Leave a comment