Acupuncture and herbs relieve cold and flu symptoms Part 2

In last article I talked out TCM’s view of cold/flu. The cold weather, lower humidity and state of our immune system are all contributing factors of cold/flu.

According to TCM, the causative factors of illness lie in environmental features such as cold and warmth, wind, dryness, or moisture. Remember that Chinese never discovered bacteria or viruses on their own. Western medicine focuses on killing the bacteria or viruses, while TCM concentrates on changing the environmental conditions conducive to their growth.

Several factors need to be in place for a person to catch a cold. Changing weather offers one such condition, especially sudden shifts from warm to cold or from cold to warm like in the Fall or Spring. Wind may carry those temperature changes further into our body. Nose and mouth are the primary entrances for virus to invade our body. When the head and neck areas go uncovered during these shifts in temperature, our immune systems can be weakened.

When we do catch cold/flu, the progress of the condition following certain patterns. We summaries them as the following five stages.  

Stage one: The cold stage. In this stage, our body, especially the head and neck areas are exposed. The cold or wind reduced local temperature and our immune systems weakened. Viruses attack us via nose and mouth and we develop a slight chill and runny nose. The nasal discharge is clear and the tongue likely imbued with a white coating. So this is our battlefield within the first 24 to 48 hours, the nose and mouth. The best way to counterattack these symptoms is to sweat out the viruses before they can go deeper into the body. Just like we like to stop our enemy at the borders. Be sure to remain warm, especially around the head and neck. Scarfs comes very handy in Fall and Spring. Drink fresh ginger tea as fresh ginger, according to TCM, is considered warm in nature, and can help to eliminate the cold. It is also one of the oldest medicinal foods used by mankind.

Soak in a hot bath while drinking the ginger tea, and try to get a good night’s rest. It’s quite likely that you may awaken tired but without any further cold and flu symptoms. If the viruses are not expelled at this stage, it will develop into the next stage.

Stage two: All symptoms from stage one still exist and the body begins to mobilize the immune system. This brings on warm symptoms such as sore throat, a stuffy nose and cough. The battlefield is now in the throat and sinuses and marks the point in time in which I see most of my patients. For those people who have their tonsils taken out, the virus can skip this stage and go deeper faster.

What’s important now is to warm the outside ( the nose and neck) and cool things down on the inside( the throat, sinuses). Acupuncture is used to strengthen the Protective Qi and Lung system, which are the first line of defense. Warm herbs are then used to heat the outside of the body and cooling herbs are used to lower the temperature of the throat.

Stage three: The internal body temperature is quite hot if left untreated in stage two, things will progressively worsen. Cold symptoms disappear and the body is engulfed in raging heat, marked by swollen throat, tonsils can be infected, nasal discharge is transformed from clear to that of yellow or a greenish stick, cough get worse and may have thick discharges, body and joints ache is the worst in this stage. At this stage, acupuncture will aid in alleviating the buildup of heat within the Lung system, and cold herbs will help dampen the fire.

Stage four: If not treated in the previous stage, a person with a normal immune system will have fought hard, by now, to expel the virus. The body returns to symptoms reminiscent of stage one, with a chilly feeling and runny nose. This is an indication that the battle between our immune system and the virus is nearing an end. The prescribed treatment at this stage is similar to that of stage one.

Stage five: The cold symptoms subside and one feels worn out and weak. The virus is by and large gone, but the immune system is in a fragile state owing to the exhausting fight that it underwent. At this stage we need to strengthen the body’s protective Qi, which is our immune system.

Not everyone get all the five stages of the cold. The duration of each stages can be different from person to person. Depending on your body’s constitution, It varies for each person and even for the same person each time the process of cold/flu could be different. For example, children’s cold develops faster than adult because their immune is not as mature. It can overshoot, thus high fever is more common in children than in adults. The first cold stage could be very short. Running nose in the evening and then high fever at night. That happened often for me when I was young. My parents had to sent me to local hospitals because of the high temperature. Have learned my lesson, I monitor my son more closely, he only had one midnight fever so far because I missed his chill in the evening. ( he is 12 years old now). If the person has “ warm body” who normally prefers cold weather/room. The viruses can hit the 3rd stage very quickly. The person hardly notice the first 2 stages. The first thing he notice is sore throat. For people with “cold body” who prefers warm weather/room, it is likely the first stage ( cold stage) lingers long. For people have weaker Lung system like me. One of the first sign of cold could be cough and the cough is normally my predominant symptoms if I did not get chance to stop it at first stage.

In my experience, the best way is to treat the onset of cold and flu is at stage one or two. By the time it reaches stage three things have become more involved and by stages four and five the illness has largely run its course and individuals with a normal immune system should rapidly recover. Others, such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, can benefit at each of these five stages from acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

Acupuncture and herbs relieve cold and flu symptoms Part 1

We have all experienced the dreadful symptoms of cold and flu— chills, running nose, stuffed nose, sore throat, cough, headaches, fever, body aches, and fatigue. You may get only several or all of these symptoms. Unfortunately the symptoms may persist for two weeks.

Most Americans believe that there is no way around these symptoms, and while certain over the counter medications will help, most people will go on suffering. Think about how much is wasted over sickness, how many hours of work, relaxation or school time for your children.

The Chinese have been using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), such as acupuncture and herbs to control cold and flu symptoms for thousands of years. I remember my parents making fresh, hot ginger tea for me the moment I developed a running nose. The running nose would be gone after finishing my tea, but more importantly, I did not get an all-out cold or flu.

If my parents hadn’t addressed my running nose in time it might progress to a burning fever, in which case they would take me to an herb doctor. With a Chinese herb formula I would then recover in a day or two as opposed to an extended period of sickness.

I remember developing a very high fever as a child and my parents sending me to a nearby hospital where the Western-educated doctors tried and tried but could not lower my fever after an entire week. The hospital refused to release me owing to my high temperature. Eventually my parents and older brother snuck me out of the hospital and took me to a Chinese herb doctor.

Within three doses of the herb formula that the Chinese herb doctor gave me, my fever was gone.

For nearly three thousand years acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been an effective way of controlling common cold and flu symptoms. When treatment is administered in timely fashion, these symptoms can be relieved from within one to three days. Once I started to learn TCM and acupuncture, I began to understand why they can help with cold and flu.

First, let’s look at Western medicine’s view of cold and flu. Cold and flu is caused by viruses. In order to treat cold and flu, we have to kill these viruses through vaccines which will then stimulate our body’s immune system, just as antibiotics treats bacterial infection.

This sounds like a great idea; however, unlike bacteria, these viruses can randomly mutate faster than we can develop vaccines for them. The flu shot that you get each year is little more than an educated guess as to what kind of virus may exist in the coming flu season. This could be hit and miss.

The Chinese developed a profoundly different approach to treating cold and flu. According to TCM, cold and flu is associated with environment conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Let’s make an analogy with gardening. For plants to grow they need soil, water, sun, and air. In the springtime conditions for growth are favorable. If any of these factors is missing, such as water during a drought, the plants will die.

The Chinese noticed that in order for one to get the cold and flu several conditions must exist concurrently: unfavorable external conditions like the temperature, humidity and detrimental internal conditions like the state of our immune system which, according to TCM, is called protective Qi. Cold temperature, low humidity, and protective QI can lead to cold and flu.

Low temperature and dry air can also reduce the function of our protective Qi. The TCM remedy for cold and flu is very simple— warm up your body to expel the virus as soon as possible and exchange our protective Qi to fight cold and flu. It is based on your individual symptoms.

I have been using acupuncture and herbs to relieve symptoms of cold and flu for my patients since 2010. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.