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Immunomodulatory and anti-SARS activities of Houttuynia cordata

Houttuynia cordata Thunb. (Saururaceae) (HC) is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) used for hundreds of year to relieve lung-related symptoms such as lung abscess, phlegm, cough and dyspnea and is effective in treating pneumonia, infectious disease, refractory hemoptysis as well as malignant pleural effusion. Recently, several studies also provided scientific data to sup-port and unveil its anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, virucidal, anti-oxidative and anti-cancer activities.

During severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in late 2002 to mid 2003, there were more than 8000 probable cases reported to WHO, of which over 7000 cases were found in China. Owing to the high infec-tious rate and the absence of definitive therapeutic Western medicines, State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of the People’s Republic of China proposed six TCM formulae to general public as preventive measures on 24 April 2003.