By Monica Seelig
Just as the warmth of the summer months are followed by the cooler autumn and winter months, so too the inevitable winter bugs come out of hiding. Chinese medical wisdom teaches us that if we do not look after ourselves and prepare for the winter, our immune systems will not be strong enough to fight off the winter bugs.
We are frequently told that we cannot ‘cure’ the common cold, but there are many ways that we can be pro-active and either prevent ourselves getting a cold, or when we do succumb, prompt treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicines can dramatically reduce the severity and duration of a cold or ‘flu. With the reality of antibiotic resistance already in our community, and the fact that taking antibiotics for viral infections are not only ineffective, but also detrimental to your general health, the need to look for an alternative is paramount. Chinese medicine has been effectively treating colds and ‘flu’s for thousands of years. The beauty, I believe, is that rather than identifying and targeting treatment on a specific bug, we look at how your body responds to the attack, and support your body to fight it. When you think about it, the bugs that cause you to get sick mutate and change frequently, while the signs and symptoms of a cold or the flu are very easily recognized.
If you succumb to a cold or ‘flu every winter, now is the time to be pro-active. Start taking immune stimulating herbs to build up your resistance. A favourite Chinese herbal formula is Yu Ping Feng San. The main ingredient in this formula is Huang Qi, commonly known as Astragalus, which is known in western herbal medicine for its immune stimulating properties.
Basically, colds and ‘flu’s are seen as an external pathogenic attack in Chinese medicine, long before microscopes we invented and microbes identified. They called it “Xie Qi” which translates as Evil Qi”, and anyone who has had a really bad ‘flu would know why! There are “hot” and “cold” type attacks. The hot type causing symptoms such as fevers, sore throats and coughs; and the cold type manifesting in chills and blocked or runny nose. Each is treated differently with acupuncture and herbs. The hot type using heat dispersing herbs and acupuncture points, and the cold type using warming herbs.
Yin Qiao San and Xin Yi San are effective herbal formulas to use in these scenarios. As the attack invades the body from the exterior, the pulse is felt on the surface of the body, known as a “floating” pulse. It is a sign that the immune system Qi is coming up to the surface of the body to fight the bug. Interestingly, I find that acupuncture needling need only be shallow as you do indeed feel the Qi closer to the surface of the body.
For alt hot and cold, headaches, nausea, and dizzinessIf the pathogen isn’t dealt with and released from the body, it can penetrate deeper into the body, and then go even deeper and affect the internal organs. “Shao Yang syndrome” is a sign that the pathogen has penetrated deeper into the body. This condition manifests as alternating chills and fevers, nausea or vomiting, fullness in the chest, bitter taste in the mouth and low energy. Left untreated, this condition can often cause a lingering post viral fatigue.
Harmonising herbs and acupuncture will be needed. If there is a pre-existing Lung weakness, a chronic cough can develop. There are many Chinese herbal formulas that are very specific and effective in treating these types of coughs, whether they be dry or productive.
So don’t delay. Start taking control of your health now. A little bit of planning and prompt treatment will see you doing the things you enjoy in life rather than spending it sick in bed.
PS Also, be like a hawk where your children are concerned. The slightest nose dribble was instantly dealt with herbs when my children were young. And now we have the convenience of granulated formulae specifically designed for children. (Rosalba)