Thursday, September 17, 2009

Combat Colds and Flu with Chinese Herbs

The common cold is an acute viral infection that generally causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It is the most common infectious disease in humans and accounts for more time lost from work or school than any other disease. Flu is an acute and contagious infection of the respiratory tract caused by various strains of the influenza virus. Cold and Flu symptoms include runny nose, cough, chills, headache, fever, and severe aching in the muscles and joints. Although flu affects all age groups, schoolchildren have the highest incidence. Although colds and flu are generally of brief duration, they can lead to complications in the very young, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems.

Because both cold and flu are viral infections, conventional medicine has no cure for them. Antibiotics do NOT cure colds or flu. Aspirin, decongestants and other medications are prescribed to make patients more comfortable and vaccinations are manufactured to prevent some strains of flu.
“In years when the vaccine strains are not well matched to circulating strains, vaccine effectiveness is generally lower.” If your immune system is already compromised, vaccine effectiveness is generally lower. If you have an influenza-like-illness, vaccine effectiveness is generally lower.[1]
Whether you use any of the above remedies or not, bed rest and increased fluid intake are necessary for your body to recover.

Use of herbal formulas to prevent and treat colds and flu is the most successful aspect of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Chinese herbs boost immune response to eliminate viruses faster. Some herbs inhibit viral reproduction and/or relieve symptoms, making a serious infection less debilitating and less disruptive to your lifestyle.

At my clinic, Point-A Place Of Wellness, I see demand for cold and flu formulas, especially among school teachers and parents of young children because of constant exposure to viruses and risk of infection. My patients are pleased by the effectiveness of Chinese herbal formulas and referring their friends.

In TCM, patterns are differentiated according to the imbalances of the body and the causes and stages of the disease. The same virus can manifest differently depending on the patient’s general health. Herbal formulas are recommended by practitioners based on not only the illness type but patient type. This article lists some basic formulas to keep on hand for a well-stocked medicine cabinet but if your symptoms change or increase in severity, contact your local Chinese medicine practitioner.

Wind-Cold Pattern symptoms include: aversion to cold; mild fever; absence of sweat; chest congestion; sneezing; runny nose (clear mucus); itching throat or cough (clear mucus); thin, white tongue coating; and a tight pulse.
  • Dispel Invasion is for cold or flu manifested as Wind-Cold Pattern. It can also benefit air-conditioning induced cold symptoms.
  • Blue Green Lung Clearing Formula also known as Xiao Qing Long Tang is for when the mucus is more excessive and there is tightness in the chest. It can relieve asthma, pneumonia and allergy symptoms.

Wind-Heat Pattern symptoms include: fever; headache; sweating; runny nose (yellow mucus); dry mouth; thirst; sore throat; productive cough (thick yellowish phlegm); thin, yellow tongue coating; and a floating and rapid pulse. Swine flu is a Wind-Heat condition.
  • Initial Defense is the most popular herbal formula to treat the Wind-Heat pattern. It combines two traditional formulas: Yin Qiao San and Sang Ju Yin.
  • Gan Mao Ling and Zhong Gan Ling are similar in function to Initial Defense but are indicated for more severe conditions such as sudden high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and aching limbs.
According to Beijing health authorities, TCM has been more effective (and less expensive) than the antiviral drug Tamiflu in curing human infections of swine flu.
“Wang Yuguang , Deputy Dean of the Centre of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine at Beijing's Ditan Hospital, which specializes in the treatment of infectious diseases, said swine flu patients treated with traditional Chinese medicine improved faster and tended to stay in hospital for a shorter time than patients using Tamiflu… Traditional medicine considers such factors as the level of virus infection, the condition of the body, age, season and climate. Treatment can be adjusted in the dose and types of herbs. Such personalised treatment seldom caused drug resistance, as Tamiflu could, Dr Wang said.”[2]

While there are many ways to reduce risk of infection[3] like washing your hands and getting plenty of rest and taking nutritional supplements like Vitamin D[4], here are three additional formulas that can be used as preventatives or treatment if you are concerned about high susceptibility to influenza because of past experience or other risk factors.

Immunity refers to the harmonic interaction of the body's processes, substances, and structural components to create strength, stamina, and adaptability. To bolster immunity is ultimately to strengthen your body as a whole.
  • If you are prone to “head colds” or congestion, Head Clear formula supports immune function to efficiently eliminate congestion from the head, sinus, eyes and ears. Chronic congestion can escalate infection of the respiratory system.
  • If you have a compromised immune system because of chemo, radiation, or an autoimmune disorder (Lupus, MS, HIV), Resilience has different Fungi which contain polysaccharides that exert an activating, corrective influence upon both cellular (macrophages and T-cells) and humoral (antibodies) aspects of the immune system.
  • Another formula for compromised immune systems, Jade Windscreen, functions much the way Resilience does except it is formulated with herbs instead of mushrooms.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs restore and maintain optimal health. If you have any imbalance in the body, the various systems will not function properly. Chinese herbs are used to correct the imbalance and restore energy, promote digestion, heal injuries, and enhance general wellness. Consult your local Chinese medicine practitioner to determine the best formulas for your lifestyle.

  1. “Flu Vaccine Effectiveness: Questions and Answers for Health Professionals” Centers for Disease Control
  2. “Beijing Ditan Hospital on service to treat influenza A/H1NI” China View (Xinhua News Agency)
  4. “American College of Healthcare Sciences “News and Events” Scott Stuart, ACHS Faculty


  1. Very thoughtfull post on wellness. It should be very much helpfull

    Karim - Creating Power

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Interesting article. I've been using medicinal herbs myself for a longer period of time, and I can say that they can actually treat and prevent many diseases for which most people would use pharmaceutical products. Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives.

  4. Thanks to give me these type of information


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