By Ellisia Grove, LAc


Your East-Asian / Chinese Medicine Guide to Staying Healthy


Feeling a sore throat coming on? Or rundown and on the precipice of getting sick? The question on everyone’s mind nowadays when you start to feel under the weather is… COVID or just a cold?

Either way, we’ve got you. Chinese and East-Asian herbal medicine have a rich history and offer a unique perspective on illness prevention and immunity. In this article, we delve into the world of East-Asian and Chinese herbal formulas and explore how they can be used to bolster our defenses against COVID-19. Especially satisfying to those of you who like lists, but useful to all who like to be prepared!

*Don’t forget to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist before integrating these into your routine.

Understanding East-Asian / Chinese Herbal Formulas


East-Asian and Chinese herbal medicine have been practiced for over 2,000 years and are deeply rooted in the concept of balance and harmony within the body as a mirror of the natural world. The tradition utilizes various herbs, minerals, and animal products to create formulas that are tailored to an individual’s specific health needs. Herbal formulas are designed to address not only symptoms but also the underlying causes of health imbalances, making them a comprehensive approach to wellness.

One of the best parts of Eastern Medicine is its whole-person focused approach, meaning there’s no one-size-fits-all fix that works for everyone. Instead, the focus is on each individual and the way illnesses and imbalances show up for you. As a result, we have organized this information to show the purpose of individual herbs for the purpose of understanding first, followed by formula descriptions that depict symptoms and conditions to match their use. 


Key Herbs in COVID-19 Prevention


Several Chinese / East-Asian herbs have gained attention for their potential in preventing COVID-19 and boosting immunity:

  • Astragalus (Huang Qi): Astragalus is a well-known immune-boosting herb. It is believed to enhance the body’s resistance to pathogens and strengthen the immune system’s overall function. Astragalus is commonly included in Chinese herbal formulas aimed at preventing respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
  • Elderberry (Jie Gu Mu): Elderberry has antiviral properties and is known for its ability to reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. It is a valuable addition to herbal formulas for preventing respiratory infections.
  • Licorice Root (Gan Cao): Licorice root has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is often used in Chinese herbal formulas to soothe respiratory discomfort and reduce inflammation in the lungs.
  • Ginger (Gan Jiang): Ginger is revered for its ability to strengthen the body’s defenses and improve circulation. In Chinese herbal medicine, ginger is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of respiratory infections.

Key Formulas


Several Chinese / East-Asian herbal formulas have gained recognition for their potential to prevent COVID-19. The sooner the symptoms are treated, the more effective formulas can be in lessening their severity, so they are great to use right when you feel the symptoms coming on.

It is important to remember that not all formulations are created equal. Get yours from a reputable source (brick and mortar is best), as there have been cases of fraudulent formulas sold online, even through large vendors (dare we name them? Amazon). We stock a small selection of herbs – shoot us an email to order.

  • Yin Qiao (Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder): This classic formula is anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-inflammatory. It is often recommended for the first 3-4 days for the common cold when symptoms of wind-heat are present.
  • Gan Mao Ling (Common Cold Remedy): Literally called the medicine for the common cold, this formula contains ilex asprella, forsythia, and isatis root, and is taken at the first sign of illness (or even preventatively), to prevent viral infections. Powerfully antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial – think herbal antibiotic, without harming your microbiome!
  • Huan Qin Jie Du Tang (Scutellaria Decoction to Relieve Toxic Heat): This traditional formula composed of berberines quickly clears heat and toxins from the body. Also highly antiviral, antibacterial, and antimocrobial. Essential in short rounds for signs of infection or heat toxicity.
  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum Decoction): This formula uses Bupleurum, Scutellaria, and Pinellia primarily to address progressions of illness that are “half interior and half exterior,” and to treat any lingering symptoms. This is an excellent formula to prevent long-Covid symptoms!
  • Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Windscreen Powder): This classic formula features astragalus, Atractylodes, and siler root. It is designed to create a protective barrier against external pathogens, making it an excellent choice for COVID-19 prevention. Can be taken long-term or through season changes – like an herbal booster shot!
  • Shen Ling Bai Zhu San (Ginseng and Atractylodes Formula): This formula contains ginseng and atractylodes to strengthen the digestive system and enhance overall vitality. A healthy digestive system plays a crucial role in maintaining a robust immune system. This formula can also be taken long-term, throughout the year.
  • Gui Pi Tang (Restore the Spleen Decoction): This formula combines astragalus, ginseng, and licorice root to tonify the spleen,boost Qi (vital energy), and build blood. A balanced spleen is essential for a strong immune system. This formula can also help us sleep, when we’re feeling really lousy!
  • Chai Hu Gui Zhi Tang (Bupleurum and Cinnamon Formula): This formula, which includes cinnamon and bupleurum, is known for its ability to alleviate symptoms of colds and flus. It can be used preventively during flu seasons or outbreaks. A powerful and gentle remedy for unresolved pathogens, and can also be taken long term without side effects.

East-Asian herbal formulas have been used for centuries to maintain health and prevent illness, and integrating them into your wellness routine can help bolster your immune system and provide an extra layer of protection. While these herbal formulas have promise in COVID-19 prevention, it’s crucial to remember that individual health needs can vary widely. Consulting a qualified Traditional Chinese / East-Asian Medicine practitioner is essential to assess your unique constitution, health status, and any specific risk factors related to COVID-19. They can tailor a herbal formula to your specific needs and provide guidance on dosage and usage.

Our acupuncturist and herbalist, Ellisia Grove, LAc is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She is also available for virtual consultations, and you can schedule in person appointments with her here. If you are interested in seeing if your visit may be covered by insurance, you can enter your email to receive a free benefit check here.

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