2013 Volume 7 Issue 5 Pages 253-256
Influenza pandemics are a serious threat to public health in today's world. In the past 10 years, the outbreak of three forms of severe influenza – H5N1, H1N1, and H7N9 – has caused tremendous loss of life and property. In order to better cope with pandemics, antivirals such as oseltamivir are being stockpiled in great quantities, placing a substantial burden on government budgets and potentially resulting in massive waste because of the uncertainty as to when an influenza pandemic will strike and whether emerging virus strains will be resistant to the stockpiled drugs. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is generally available, affordable, and commonly used in China and many other countries and CAM has a long track record of fighting influenza. The Chinese Government appropriated funds to intensively investigate herbal medicines in accordance with the principles of evidence-based medicine in order to identify effective, inexpensive, and easily stockpiled medicines. Thus far, several drugs including Shufeng Jiedu capsules, Lianhua Qingwen capsules, Maxing Shigan decoction, Yinqiao powder, and Jinhua Qinggan granules have demonstrated effectiveness in fighting influenza. In the future, CAM is expected to make greater contribution in controlling the prevalence of influenza pandemics.