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How TCM Can Help with Pulmonary Tuberculosis Recovery

Published | 4 min read

The incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis has increased in Malaysia over the last few years. Early treatment can help prevent widespread infection.

A woman looking on as a clinical specialist explains the findings of an X-ray image to her.

Pulmonary tuberculosis is a highly infectious condition caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The original form of the bacteria is latent but will make you sick if it attacks your immune system’s defences.

Tuberculosis of the lungs is the most infectious form of the disease. However, it can also affect other body parts, such as the central nervous system, bones, lymph nodes, and genitourinary and gastrointestinal tracts. 

Prompt diagnosis and addressing the infection can improve your health, while preventing the spread of pulmonary tuberculosis. 

Understand how to lower your risk or recover completely from infection with the following risk factors and available treatments.

What are the Risk Factors of Pulmonary Tuberculosis?

Woman wearing a headwrap covering her mouth and looking ill.
Chemotherapy weakens the immune system and can make a patient vulnerable to tuberculosis.

Infants, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are vulnerable to pulmonary tuberculosis. If you’re undergoing chemotherapy or have diabetes, your chances of infection are higher too.

Other people in the high-risk category include those who are malnourished, those who live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, and those who have been in close contact with someone with tuberculosis. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), tuberculosis is believed to originate from a parasitic worm with pathogenic traits.

“Fire and Dampness are the main characteristics of the parasite that causes tuberculosis. The infection can damage the Lungs and result inQi (vital life force) Stagnation, blood clots, fluid retention, and phlegm development. If these pathogenic factors aren’t resolved early, they may lead to vital substance Deficiencies and impair the functions of other organ systems.” 

Real Health Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew

What Steps Can be Taken to Prevent Pulmonary Tuberculosis? 

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has proven to protect against tuberculosis. BCG is 80% effective in preventing infection for up to 15 years. 

It also works well against complex forms of paediatric tuberculosis but has limited effectiveness in people over 35. 

At home, you may take the following precautions to reduce your risk of developing or spreading the infection: 

  • Ensure good ventilation in your home or workplace: Tuberculosis can remain suspended for several hours in an environment with no ventilation 
  • Get some natural light: Ultraviolet (UV) light can kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
  • Maintain hygienic habits: Use a protective mask or cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to reduce the spread of tuberculosis 

Traditional herbal remedies may also be used to fend off infection by regulating internal imbalances and strengthening the organ systems. These include:  

  • Sheng Mai San (生脉散)  
  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (补中益气汤)  
  • Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan (金匮肾气丸) 
  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang (香砂六君子汤)  

Pharmaceutical drugs 

The goal of clinical treatment is to cure the infection with antibiotics that fight against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The course of therapy may span over a few months and must be completed to ensure the bacteria is eliminated in the body.

Herbal decoctions and acupressure massages 

To support the clinical treatment of tuberculosis, Physician Yew recommends using specific decoctions. Examples of these are: 

  • Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang (血府逐瘀汤): Improves blood and qi circulation within the Lungs  
  • Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang (养阴清肺汤): Dispels Fire and phlegm, and replenishes yin (passive energy) of the Lungs.  
  • Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang (甘草干姜汤): Eliminates Cold and phlegm, and strengthens the Lungs by restoring yang (active energy) levels in the organ system 
  • San Zi Yang Qin Tang (三子养亲汤): Clears the airways and improves respiratory function by eliminating Cold, Dampness, and phlegm from the Lungs 

Applying pressure to these acupoints may also contribute to holistic recovery from infection

  • Tai yuan (LU9, 太淵)
  • He gu (LI4, 合谷)  
  • Yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉) 
  • Zu san li (ST36, 足三里) 
  • Dan zhong (CVRN17, 膻中)  

Alternative treatments can be helpful in the holistic treatment of tuberculosis. The right combination of clinical and traditional remedies will increase the chances of recovery whilst maintaining your overall health.

Visit a qualified TCM practitioner to develop a treatment plan that suits your personal needs and helps you avoid potential contraindications.  

If you found the information on pulmonary tuberculosis useful, spread the word.


  1. TB Alert. What is TB? [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023]  
  2. Trading Economics. Malaysia – Incidence Of Tuberculosis (per 100,000 People). [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023] 
  3. National Library of Medicine. 2021. Tuberculosis Death Epidemiology and Its Associated Risk Factors in Sabah, Malaysia. [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023] 
  4. BMJ Best Practice. Pulmonary tuberculosis. [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023] 
  5. MedlinePlus. Pulmonary tuberculosis. [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023] 
  6. TB Alert. Prevention. [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023] 
  7. TB Alert. Treatment. [online] [Accessed 24 March 2023]  

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Reviews (1)

May 11 2023

I like it very much the all information you share about..Tq 4 the sharing..waitin the nxt in4

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