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Fight the cold and flu with Chinese medicine

When you or someone in your family is sick with the cold or flu, all you want to do is kick the sickness to the curb as fast as possible. Using Chinese Medicine at home can help you strengthen the body's defenses to prevent illnesses and get better quickly when an illness does take hold.

Strengthen your body to prevent getting sick
Chinese Medicine instructs us to tone the Defensive Qi (pronounced "chee")

  1. Wash and moisturize your hands often. Our skin is one of our first defenses against pathogens—a term used for any cause for a disease, be it a virus, bacteria or wind-cold or wind-heat (read on to learn more about pathogens in Chinese Medicine).
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Ideally, try for eight to nine uninterrupted hours each night.
  3. Eat foods that are nourishing and easy to digest. Choose broth-based soups and stews, cooked grains and vegetables, and some organic meat. Replace coffee with green tea. Eat slowly, focusing on the sensuality of your food.
  4. Manage your stress, meditate and breathe. Try setting aside five minutes out of your busy day to take deep breaths.
  5. Bundle up. Wear your warmest clothes and keep your skin and nose protected from the wind (Chinese Medicine believes pathogens enter through your skin and nose).

Manage the attack
Chinese Medicine instructs us to expel the pathogens

  1. Decide whether symptoms are "hot" or "cold." In Chinese Medicine, "cold" symptoms include sneezing, runny nose with clear or white phlegm, itchy throat, coughing up clear or white mucus, and an achy body. If you have them, Chinese Medicine says the pathogen is "wind-cold." "Hot" symptoms include sore throat, more fever than chills, thirst, nasal congestion with yellow phlegm, and coughing up yellow mucus. These symptoms mean the pathogen is "wind-heat." This knowledge will help you to know how to proceed with foods and herbs.
  2. Eat and drink to expel the pathogens. Eat plenty of broth-based soups and rice. Drink warm liquids. If your symptoms are more "wind-cold," add ginger, cinnamon, green onion and garlic to your foods. If your symptoms are more "wind-heat," drink lots of peppermint tea and eat cooling fruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits. In both cases, avoid dairy, sugars/sweets and rich or fried foods.
  3. Get cozy and rest. Keep wearing your warmest clothes and keep your skin and nose protected from the wind. This will help the body to sweat—a primary way that the body expels the pathogens. Rest. Sleep. Let the body use most of its energy to fight the pathogen.
  4. Consult with a licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help in shortening the duration of an illness.
  5. And finally, know when it is time to consult your family doctor. If you have an extremely high fever or any fever that lasts more than three days, if wheezing develops, or you are finding it harder and harder to breathe—go see your doctor. 

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