Chinese medicine expert says 'anti-smog' teas ineffective
As parts of China continue to be engulfed by choking smog, many are turning to traditional Chinese medicine to combat the pollution's effect on their health.
One practice that has gained popularity is drinking "anti-smog" tea, which some believe can "clean" their lungs.
But a leading Chinese medicine practitioner has sought to dispel this myth, saying it is ineffective.
"Anti-smog" teas have become more widely available in Chinese medicine shops, pharmacies and online sites as the smog in China has worsened over the last few years.
There are different recipes, but they generally are made up of Chinese herbs such as dried flowers and roots.
The practice stems from the Chinese medicinal belief that drinking certain concoctions can boost one's health and rid the body of impurities.
A 2015 report by Beijing Morning Post noted that several pharmacies in the capital were selling "lung-cleansing teas to combat smog".
On popular online marketplace Taobao, "anti-smog" teas can be bought for 20 yuan (£2.20, $2.90) per packet and one listing claims that its combination of seven ingredients including dried chrysanthemums and honeysuckle can "boost lungs and moisten throats", and "combat the smog".
But in a recent report by state broadcaster CCTV, Liu Quanqing, president of the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said such teas were "unreliable".
He noted, that the digestive and respiratory systems were separate, and that many teas contained ingredients which "may cause health problems if taken for a long time."
What would help instead, Mr Liu added, was maintaining a healthy diet and boosting one's immune system.
The same report also quoted officials from China's communicable disease centre as saying that using air purifiers and wearing masks were more effective in combating the smog.
'Delicious mist and haze'
The heavy pollution has become an annual occurrence during winter, affecting the north and eastern parts of China the most.
This year's smog has prompted school closures and warnings for residents to stay indoors, and triggered widespread health concerns.
One Shanghai surgeon's poem linking the smog to lung cancer recently went viral on social media.
The poem, which was originally written in English before it was translated into Chinese, describes a lung condition that is "nourished on the delicious mist and haze". That line has stirred controversy as authorities have sought to downplay the smog's health consequences.
But the surgeon, Zhao Xiaogang, told Global Times that he wanted to make the point that "the intense rise in lung cancer (in China)... is intimately related to smog".
Reporting by the BBC's Tessa Wong