Combining traditional Chinese and western medicine can save money and improve Sars treatment, says a leading advocate of the ancient medical method. Cao Hongxin, president of the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said the average daily cost for treating a Sars patient in Beijing is about 1,000 yuan (HK$940). He said this could be halved if the treatment combined the two forms of medicine. About half the Sars patients in Beijing have been treated using traditional Chinese and western techniques and drugs. Dr Cao said the academy was studying the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine by studying 300 cases. The results will be announced in two weeks. Lin Lin, a doctor with the Guangdong Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said indigenous herbs were particularly effective in treating the symptoms of diarrhoea among Sars patients. Dr Lin has been invited by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority to treat Sars patients in the city. She said mainland doctors, who have usually received training in both traditional and western medicine, were highly experienced in using a combined treatment for patients. '[It is less effective] if traditional medicine is prescribed by a group of people, then other people prescribe western medicine,' she said. 'If doctors know how to prescribe traditional Chinese and western medicine at the same time, then the combined treatment is very effective.' Dr Cao said traditional medicine's efficacy in treating Sars has improved the status of Chinese doctors. 'Patients asked to be treated with a combination of Chinese and western medicine. They refused to be treated with western medicine only,' he said.