Teapot, lily buds, tea bowl, and ginger root placed on a bamboo floor


Fight your cold and flu with traditional Chinese medicine

  • The flu shot reduces your risk of getting the flu by about 50 percent.
  • For most people, any side effects of the flu shot are mild and go away on their own in a few days.
  • If you have young children getting the flu shot for the first time, they will need two doses, four weeks apart.

When you or someone in your family is sick with a cold or flu, all you want to do is kick the sickness to the curb as fast as possible. Using Chinese Medicine or traditional medicine can help you strengthen your body's defenses to prevent illnesses and get better more 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. Your skin is one of your first defenses against pathogens—a term used for any cause of disease, be it a virus, bacteria or wind-cold or wind-heat.
  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 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.

Manage the attack

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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