Forsythia is a plant that produces fruits called Lian Qiao, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help treat various symptoms including fever, nausea, swelling, and sore throat.
There is limited evidence to prove the forsythia's effectiveness. The Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine suggests that Lian Qiao can be used to treat or prevent Coronavirus. The journal also lists Radix astragali (Huangqi), Radix glycyrrhizae (Gancao), Radix saposhnikoviae (Fangfeng), Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae (Baizhu) and Lonicerae Japonicae Flos (Jinyinhua) for Coronavirus treatment.
As of now the majority of studies on forsythia's medicinal properties were conducted either in animals or in vitro, performed with microorganisms, cells, or biological molecules outside their normal biological context. That is why there is very little scientific evidence on its effectiveness in humans. But from animal and vitro studies, scientists have found many properties that could help explain some of its benefits in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Studies on Forsythia
A 2017 study found that in vitro dried Lian Qiao has shown a potential to combat bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and streptococcus, while a 2013 research revealed the effects of both forsythia and Japanese honeysuckle on the influenza virus, the researchers found that they both restrain the virus from multiplying and boost immune cell function.
A vitro study, which came in 2010 in the Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, said that the plant, mostly native to eastern Asia, could be effective against H1N1. As per another 2017 study, which was conducted on mice, forsythia has shown promising signs in treating intestinal inflammatory conditions like ulcerative colitis.
Forsythia has been studied in treating certain cancers. In a study published in Molecular Medicine Reports, esophageal cancer cells were put into mice, and researchers found that forsythia inhibited the growth of the cancer cells. But further study is needed to completely understand the effectiveness of this herb.
The Use of Natural Remedy
The name 'forsythia' may sound familiar because it was mentioned in the 2011 movie, "Contagion," which became highly popular during the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no solid proof that forsythia can be useful to treat or cure Coronavirus. But, for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties, the plant is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat bacterial and viral infections.
As per the experts, the safest and best way to take forsythia is to discuss dosage with an herbal medicine expert, as there is not enough and reliable information to know the side effects of this herb. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has not approved forsythia products.
Deborah Ann Ballard, MD, MPH, internal medicine doctor at Duke Integrative Medicine said she does not prescribe forsythia to her patients and does not recommend anyone to take forsythia without consulting a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. "Proper use of this or any remedy requires an individualized assessment and approach," she added.