A stuffy nose, a lump in the throat that refuses to go away, a throbbing headache, body aches… chances are, you’ve experienced one or all of the above before. With cold and flu season coming up, are you ready to resist the flu bug or are you resigned to downing cold remedies?
Flu, According to TCM
Flu is a respiratory illness that is caused by viruses. Its symptoms are all too familiar: nasal congestion, running nose, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, and fatigue.
From the perspective of TCM, flu and its symptoms are not just the body’s internal war, but is caused by six external pathogens: “wind”, “heat”, “dampness”, “fire”, “dryness” and “cold”. Acting on their own or in combination with “wind”, each person may experience different flu symptoms.
In battling these pathogens, having a strong “vital qi” (正气) is essential. With strong “vital qi” or immunity, external pathogens cannot enter the body easily.
To keep the body's Qi strong and prevent Wind attacks, any of the three modalities may be used, as all of them have stimulating functions. In fact, several clinical studies have demonstrated that herbal medicine and acupuncture, in particular, reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.
Acupuncture and Colds & Flu
Acupuncture treatment varies according to the presentation of symptoms and the predominance of Heat, Cold, or other pathogens and to the strength of the Qi.
For example, in a Wind-Cold attack, acupuncture needles are placed in acupuncture points that eliminate Wind and dispel Cold and in points that treat symptomatic conditions such as a runny nose and stiff neck. Representative points are Zu San Li (ST36), Feng Chi (GB20), He Gu (LI 4) and Yin Xiang (LI 20)
Herbal Medicine and Colds & Flu
Herbal medicine treatment varies according to the symptoms, the predominance of Heat, Cold, and other pathogens, and the strength of a patient's Qi. Just as individual acupuncture points and the combination of points into prescriptions vary according to the differentiated pattern of Wind-Heat and Wind-Cold, the use of herbal substances is differentiated as well.
Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold are combined with specific herbs that treat symptomatic conditions and, if necessary, increase the body's resistance so that the pathogen can be eliminated more rapidly. For example, detoxifying herbs such as Jin Yin Hua (Lonicera) and Lian Qiao (Forsythia)
Wind-Heat, and Gui Zhi (cinnamon twig) and Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) are used to treat Wind-Cold.
Likewise, to strengthen Qi and boost the immune system, herbs such as Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Huang Qi (Astragalus), and Ban Lan Gen (Isatis) may be used in formulas.
Sense a cold or flu coming on, try these way! All in Yong Kang TCM Clinic!