Using Chinese medicine to treat the common cold and flu

They say a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best first-line prevention for the common cold is the humble scarf.

To guard against the elements it’s imperative that you keep your neck warm and protected especially in cold, wet, windy weather and particularly at the change of season.

Also be mindful as the warmer weather recedes to keep windows closed, fans turned off and your chest and back covered with clothing whilst sleeping to protect yourself against night-time drafts.

Unlike Western Medicine the Chinese believe that ‘evil qi’ or external infections enter the body via vulnerable acupuncture points located on the back of the body and around the neck. This is why cold and flu symptoms typically manifest initially as neck and upper back stiffness and generalised body aches. From here it is a simple hop skip and a jump into the throat before diving more deeply into the upper respiratory system and into the chest.

Guarding the fortress

You may have noticed that some people around you are very resilient and won’t get sick even when those close to them are dropping like flies. Others are certain to pick up pretty much every annoying sniffle going around.

Chinese medicine explains this phenomenon according to the relative strength of each person’s protective energy or ‘Wei Qi’.

The ‘Wei Qi’ is a special type of energy that circulates on the surface of the body, a bit like an army whose role it is to protect and guard a fortress against foreign invasion. If the ‘Wei Qi’ is strong and healthy it will resist attack and there will be no infection. If it is weak it will be less able to effectively defend itself against attack and invasion will occur.

Sometimes very strong, virulent infections however are able to slip under the radar of even the most robust persons ‘Wei Qi’ defences to cause illness.

Harnessing the troops

Once the infection has breached the protective ‘Wei Qi’ barrier the body must then harness the sum of all available bodily energy to aggressively fight the infection. This harnessing of the troops is known as ‘Zheng Qi’ and is analogist to the Western concept of immunity.

In order for a person to fully recover from any illness the ‘Zheng Qi’ must be strong enough to overpower the offending infection in order to return the body to health.

A number of factors can seriously damage or compromise the strength of the ‘Zheng Qi’ and this is where Chinese Medicine can be of great use to optimise immunity, prevent exacerbation of symptoms and promote healing especially for those who experience chronic, recurrent infection and are slow to heal.

How this is done is beyond the scope of this article and for most of our clients it’s suffice to know that there is help available. If you have any questions regarding this information please contact the clinic on (03) 9596 5663.

Seasonal illness

Most people from their own experience will know the season(s) of the year that they tend to be most vulnerable to catching colds and flu.

Respiratory illnesses commonly manifest at the change of the season, especially the Autumn into Winter transition and the Spring into Summer transition. This is because the body’s internal environment is busy adapting and balancing itself within the changing external weather conditions. This is why it is essential for all humans to modify their physical activity as the seasons change.

During the Autumn-Winter transition temperatures drop and the seasonal energy naturally gathers inwards and sinks downwards in preparation for hibernation. This is evidenced in the external world by the trees visibly losing their leaves as they begin storing nourishment in their root system.

The challenge for staying well during this time is in avoiding exposure to the cold, wet, windy weather of Winter.

If you happen to get sick at this time there is an unfortunate tendency for the body to drag and lock illness deep inside making recovery more difficult. Those troubled by this phenomenon will likely experience recurrent chest infections, bronchitis, chronic asthma, pneumonia and pleurisy and usually have a long history of repeated antibiotic use.

Following the deep hibernation of Winter comes the warming, thawing, awakening energy of Spring which moves upwards and outwards. As the motive force of the body’s internal energy makes its way to the surface once again it is still very tender and sensitive to invasion. Infection can easily slip past the body’s defences at this stage.

Spring-Summer illnesses tend to be relatively less severe although the wind is still a major contributing factor. People troubled by colds, flus and respiratory conditions may also be susceptible to hayfever and sinusitis due to the increased presence of pollen in the air.

In high Summer people are more susceptible to heat conditions and summertime colds and flu tend to be accompanied by symptoms of heat which include fevers, hot sore red throats and dehydration.

Seasonal treatment

To ensure you maintain your seasonal equilibrium we recommend making a clinic appointment around the change of each season. Regular seasonal treatment just 4 times a year will help to strengthen your ‘Wei Qi’ and ‘Zheng Qi’ and correct imbalances long before they develop into potentially more serious health complaints.

We also stock our signature Cold & Flu capsules are a must for every family’s first aid cupboard and can be taken in all seasons.

Simply take 4 capsules every two hours with the first hint of a sore throat, sniffle, general body aches, mild chills or fever and repeat up to 4-6 times, cease once symptoms have resolved. If symptoms persist contact the clinic for further advice.