Cold and Flu Season: Wind Conditions
The weather is getting colder and the days shorter. That means it's the start of the Cold and Flu season! The focus of this page will be on the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the prevention and treatment of these illnesses.
In Western Medicine a cold or flu is considered to be a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The common cold may be caused by a variety of viruses including the adenovirus, echovirus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus. The influenza viruses A, B or C may cause influenza. Regardless of cause, the treatment is the same: bed rest, hydration, decongestion and analgesia.
Dr. Hong Su describes the Chinese Medicine perspective: "The ancient Chinese observed six different environmental conditions, Wind, Cold, Summer Heat, Dampness, Dryness and Fire, generally known as the six Qi. When they cause sickness they are referred to as the six excesses or pernicious invaders." Upper respiratory illnesses is usually caused by the pernicious invasion of Wind when it overpowers the strength of the immune systems and is categorized into two main syndromes:
A Wind Heat invasion usually corresponds to a flu and is characterized by fever, sweating, cough, sore throat, headache, and yellow sputum.
A Wind Cold invasion is characterized by absence of fever or a slight fever, chills, sneezing, cough, white or clear sputum, severe aches and pains, headache, absence of sweating: In short, a common cold.
As indicated by the symptoms, these two syndromes, which would have basically the same Western medical treatment, are treated with different herbal formulas. The different formulas are described in the pharmacy section of this newsletter.
Clearly some further explanation is needed as to how Wind can cause disease: According to Chinese medicine, the healthy Qi (life force energy) has many functions. The protective aspect of these functions is to protect the body from external pernicious influences and is carried out by a specific Qi, called Wei Qi (pronounced "way chee"). The word Wei demonstrates how this type of Qi acts. Wei was the name given to the soldiers who defended the realm and the Emperor.
The body can be invaded by an external pernicious influence, such as Wind, only if the Wei Qi is relatively or temporarily weakened -- as by overwork, excessive sexual activity, irregular diet and emotional stress or a combination of these, or if the force of the pathogenic factor is greater then that of the Wei Qi.
Once the Wind invasion begins, the body becomes a battleground. Our neck and shoulders tighten to lock out further invaders. Fever and perspiration are the body's attempt to purge the pathogens in the struggle between the body's Wei Qi and the external pathogenic factor. Herbal formulas help facilitate this process. It is recommended that after taking herbs to treat the onset of Wind Heat or Wind Cold, the patient rests in bed under warm covers as the sweat sets in.
Future articles will deal with Chinese Medicine as it relates to weather and the seasons.
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2. Prevention and Treatment: Grandma was right!:
Usually we postulate that people get a cold or flu due to the following reasons: Exposure to germs, overwork, lowered immune system. Using the theory of causality of disease described above, we see how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be very helpful in the prevention and treatment of these upper respiratory infections, or Wind invasions.
Our own Shane Hoffman makes the following recommendations: "Believe it or not, your Grandma wasn't lying. Exposure to the chilled fall wind can cause a cold. The ancient Chinese writing describes the evil characteristics of Wind as a pernicious invader and the human neck as its prime victim. Luckily, we live in New York and have a virtually unlimited choice in scarfwear. Burberry this season is offering its traditional tartan in light pistachio green and sky blue hues. Or the bargain shopper can find a nice nylon faux-mina on St. Mark's Place in every color of the rainbow for about $10. The point is: if you haven't got a scarf, get one! Protect yourself from the brisk winds of the fall with the tools of the season; the coat, the turtleneck, the scarf, even auntie's old stole in the closet. Just think for a second about the neck and head. So much of what we do these days proceeds from this area of the body, perhaps even too much. A huge amount of blood and energy circulate through the body to the neck and head. Unlike some other places on the human body, the head and neck aren't blessed with a nice layer of fat to keep them warm. So it's our job to keep them warm and protected.
Get plenty of rest, daily. Stay toasty warm (not a problem in many New York buildings). Avoid the evil sneezer on the train. Should you find that despite your best efforts, that you still fall victim to what we medically call "the crud" of cold and flu, here the Chinese medical theory is instructive again as to how to proceed: This system of diagnosing colds and flu describes where the invading pathogen resides in the body. With each increasing symptom and each hour of infection the pathogen can travel more deeply toward the core of the body. The severity of the disease progresses with its depth in the body. For this reason, it's essential to strike and strike fast when that floozy feeling sets in. The sooner you can start to support your body with the herbs listed below and get some rest, the sooner you can clear the infection. Regular acupuncture on an ongoing basis will also help marshal the strength of the immune system, strengthening the Wei Chi."
To prevent excesses evil attack, Dr. Su recommends, "Avoid wet conditions: sitting and lying in a wet place; or wearing sweat soaked clothes. Dry hair if wet. Avoid intake of any food that may cause your stomach to bloat, such as raw vegetables."
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3. The Home Pharmacy of Chinese Herbs:
We recommend that these formulas be in everyone's home "medicine cabinet"in time for the Cold and Flu season. .
Astra C strengthens the body's defensive energy and should be taken whenever one is feeling "under the weather" during the cold and flu season. It contains tonifying Chinese herbs, as well as, Vitamin C and zinc. It can also be taken preventatively at the same or a slightly smaller dose. Dosage: Three tablets three times a day.
Yin Chao Jin* (and Yin Chao Jr. if there are children in the home).
This formula is to be taken at the very first sign of Wind Heat cold or flu especially when characterized by a sore throat. It is the cornerstone of the treatment of the flu when fever is present.
It is recommended that this formula be taken at least three tablets every four hours. For Yin Chao Jr. the general dosage is 1-3 droppers full every few hours. It may be added to juice for better compliance. The Yin Chao Jr. formula can be used for adults who are unable to swallow tablets. Once the condition has cleared, discontinue taking this product.
Echinacea and goldenseal are combined in this formula with the Chinese herb Isatis, which is known to be powerfully anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Other herbs are present to soothe the throat and promote blood flow to treat headaches. It can be used alone or in combination with Yin Chao Jin or Astra C.
At least three tablets every 4-6 hours.
If there is no fever we recommend Isatis Gold with freshly grated ginger tea. Boil a teaspoon of fresh ginger for five or more minutes and then drink. This will promote sweating.
Note: The use of Echinacea provides a peak benefit during the first two weeks of use. The efficacy then decreases to a lesser plateau level for the full duration of use. To get the greatest immune support, use Isatis Gold when exposed to a cold or when that weak feeling sets in, and not as a preventative.
Some patients who are constitutionally sensitive, or have weak digestive systems, may experience abdominal discomfort using Isatis Gold and should take lower dosages and combine it with Quiet Digestion. Once the condition has cleared, discontinue taking these products.
For gastrointestinal or "stomach flu", this herb is helpful, especially when combined with Isatis Gold. General dosage: two of each formula, 4-6 times per day on an empty stomach.
Quiet Digestion is also a good formula to take when traveling to prevent and treat traveler's diarrhea.
MInor Blue Dragon*
Minor Blue Dragon contains MaHuang (Ephedra) combined for safety of use with other Chinese herbs. It is ideal to treat Wind Cold (the common cold) when the body aches and there is clear or white nasal discharge or sputum. It causes sweating and warms the lungs. Use with caution if hypertension is present.
Dosage: three tablets three times a day (for short term use only)
A powerful antioxidant comprised of quercetin, zinc, pycnogenol (grape seed extract) and some vitamins A, C, E. This helps make sure that your immune system isn't burdened trying to capture free radicals and provides the base support your immune system needs to go on overtime.
At time of onset of symptoms, take 2 tablets 3-4 times daily, discontinue when all symptoms resolve. As a preventive take one table 2-3 times daily.
This formula combines bee propolis and goldenseal, two natural substances shown to have anti-viral, antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. Use of this supplement also helps strengthen the body's immune system response. Dosage:
At time of onset of symptoms, take 1 tablets 3-4 times daily, discontinue when all symptoms resolve. As a preventive take one tablet 1-2 times daily.
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4. Chicken Soup Recipe:
Of course the best treatment for any impending cold is chicken soup.
Grandma Cecile's Chicken Soup
(Turning Point Office Manager Deborah Pannell's Updated Version...)
4 quarts cold water
1 kosher chicken* (4 to 5 pounds), quartered
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery cut into 1-inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh dill, thicker stems removed, chopped (about a cup)
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (about 1/2 a cup)
1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
* If you prefer to use a free range or free roaming chicken, I suggest salting it overnight with coarse sea salt or kosher salt and then rinsing with cold water before you cook it.
1. Pour the cold water into a large pot. Add the chicken and onion, and slowly bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1-1and 1/2 hours, until the chicken pulls easily off the bones.
2. Skim any residue off the top of the soup and discard. Remove all the chicken and set aside to cool.
3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, garlic, dill, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper to the soup and continue to simmer.
4. Skin and debone the chicken, then return the meat to the soup, reserving small portions of meat for your cats who have no doubt been going nuts this whole time. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not too mushy.
5. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste
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