It’s been a rough flu season. Either you got it, or people around you did. Either you were down for the count, or your get-up-and-go just couldn’t. And depending on our unpredictable weather, allergy season is just around the corner. Where does that leave you?
You are either trying to stay healthy, trying to shake off the last of your cold or flu symptoms and/or preparing for allergy season.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: In the meantime, wear appropriate clothing for the unpredictable weather. Pack a scarf to keep your neck and shoulders covered. Consider taking off your shoes when entering your home so you don’t carry in dirt, environmental toxins, or allergens. Plan to get a full night’s sleep.
This article will explain a little about Chinese Medicine (CM) theory and how we approach the treatment of cold, flu and allergy symptoms. But more importantly, it will show you where you might be in the “sick” cycle and offer some solutions for feeling better soon. So when you’re told you’re having a Wind-Cold attack, you’ll understand what it means and what to do.
UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANISM
Contagious illnesses include virus, bacteria, spirochetes (a subset of bacteria), as well as fungus and parasites. The longer one of these “bugs” live outside the host body the stronger it becomes, and the easier it is for others to catch it.
CM theory explains this through the Six Climate Factors: Wind, Cold, Heat, Damp, Summer-Heat and Dryness. Wind accounts for the rate of spreading that may result in an epidemic (for example, think of the recent northern and southern California fires as an example of Wind + Heat). Wind can combine with Cold, Heat, Dampness, Damp + Heat or Dryness which result in various manifestations of disease.
In the western model, it is the power and endurance of the microbe that accounts for its spreading phenomenon. Virulence (from Latin, meaning “poisoned wound” or “full of poison”) is the microbe’s ability to infect or damage the host.
Dr. Jeffrey Yuen, Ph.D. diagramed the correlation between Wind-Cold Climate Factor with the viral group of contagious microbes. Now we have a framework for understanding the diseases and a clinical approach to treating them.
Table 1: Classification of types of Infectious Diseases.
|Chinese Medicine||Western Modern Medicine|
|6 climatic Factors (Acute)||Pathogens/Infectious Disease (acute)|
|Wind- The Invitation to change||The Contagion Rate/Virulence|
|1. Wind-Cold||Viral Diseases (COLD and FLU)|
|2. Wind-Heat||Bacterial Disease, (Strep throat)|
|3. Wind-Damp||Fungal Diseases,|
|4.Wind-Summer-heat (damp & heat)||Spirochete & Parasitic Diseases|
|5. Wind-Dryness||Dehydration due to fever|
In addition to the 6 Climate Factors, the disease may also move deeper into the host body through a defined progression, including death.
Table 2: Disease Progression Patterns/Organ Systems
|Bladder/TaiYang – Headache, neck-ache, chills|
|GallBladder/ShaoYang – Body-aches, alternating fever and chills, restlessness, inability to sleep|
|Stomach/YangMing – High fever, sore throat, sweating, thirst, flushed face|
|Lung & Spleen/Tai Yin – Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea|
|Pericardium/ShaoYin – affecting Heart and Kidney function, organ failure|
|Liver/Jue Yin – affecting the Heart and Liver function, organ failure|
So when you read “organ failure” it shows that flu can be fatal. Flu seasons are often characterized by the CDCP (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) by how deadly they were.
Your immune system is what stops the disease progression, either fully or partially. In acupuncture theory, we refer to your “Defensive Qi” or Wei Qi. If it is strong enough, it can push the pathogen back out through the exterior before it can dive deeper into the body.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: One way to release the Wind-Cold/Viral pathogen (Table 1) in the Tai Yang stage (or the early onset stage) is with Gua Sha, a firm but gentle scraping of the neck, shoulders and upper back that releases the pathogen from the muscle layer. It results in small red dots – pettechiae – that disappear after a few days. With a short demonstration from your acupuncturist, you can learn to do this at home. All you need is a tool (spoon, lid of jar, even a short shoehorn) and some oil or lotion.
ALLERGIES: SIMILARITIES & DIFFERENCES TO COLD & FLU PATTERNS
Pollens form a kind of Wind-borne antigen that the body thinks is a foreign invader (infectious disease), so the body mounts a fight. The pollen is not a living organism like a virus or bacteria, so the pollen does not fight to survive. However, there is an increase in immune reaction of both inflammation (fluids, runny eyes, runny nose) and histamine responses, (sneezing, itching, hives). The excess fluids congeal into mucus (nose blowing) and harden into Phlegm (sinus infection, draining into the throat, raw irritated throat, and eustachian tube/ear infection). The marsh-like condition of excess fluids becomes the perfect home for opportunistic bacteria, which are otherwise not a problem. Pressure building up in the face can be mistaken for a tooth infection instead of a sinus or ear infection.
Good bye Flu Season, Hello Allergy Season
YOUR COLD-FLU-ALLERGY CHEAT SHEET
Your acupuncturist is trained in herbal medicine. We carry certain formulas from only reputable companies because we know they are the potency needed to be reliable. An individual consultation and a formula from your provider will yield the best results, particularly in combination with an acupuncture treatment.
STEP 1: Act Early, Act Fast
As soon as you feel something is off – whatever your early-warning signs are – be ready to act. If you are around sick people, have remedies on hand. If you will be on a train, bus, airplane or in a school, medical center, mall or a large gathering, be prepared.
- Vitamin C with Quercitin is good for airborne allergy symptoms like pollens, aka “hay fever” as well as a cold or flu virus infection.
- Zinc help give the immune system more force to fight.
- Immune support such as the Classical Herbal Formula; Yu Ping Feng San- Jade Windscreen Powder strengthens the immune system, securing the openings of the body from being vulnerable to attack.
- Turbo-charge the Classical Formula by adding in Ling Zhi/Reishi Mushroom and Wu Wei Zi/Schizandra.
(For those of you who have discovered True Chi ™ Immune Power, you know that this is the c. and d. combimed together.)
GUA SHA– Release Wind Cold with a massage technique called Gua Sha, a firm but gentle scraping of the neck, shoulders and upper back that releases the pathogen from the muscle layer, one of the initial sites of pathogen entry. It results in small red dots – pettechiae – that disappear after a few days. With a short demonstration from your acupuncturist, you can learn to do this at home.
- Protect your neck. Wind is said to attack the back of the neck and shoulders, so keeping your neck covered with a hoodie or a scarf will protect those vulnerable areas. The acupuncture points located there often have Wind in the name, such as Wind Pool (GB20), Holds Wind (SI12), Shielding Wind (SJ17), and Wind Palace (Du16).
- Essential Oil Bath Therapy is known for relieving muscle-aches. Take a warm bath with 2 cups Epsom Salts and 40 drops of an essential oil Blend of : Birch, Eucalyptus (preferably the peppermint variety) , Ravansara and a dash of Bai Zhi/Angelica Dahurica..
. . .
Step 2: Kill the Virus
If it couldn’t be stopped and you now have a cold or flu, begin an anti-viral herbal formula to kill the virus.
- Gui Zhi Tang can be given to children, and is also for those with chronic illness, autoimmune conditions or general debility.
2.For Adults: Gan Mao Ling, or Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang/”9 Herbs to Treat Wind Cold” will be the best way to get started.
3. For a strong flu epidemics (Swine Flu, H1N1 strains, or N3N2 strain of 2018), use: Chai Ge Jia Ji Tang.
STEP 3: Get Specific
There are a handful of western remedies and Chinese herbal formulas to specifically handle cough, wheezing and difficulty breathing, sinus infection/congestion, high fever, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, secondary bacterial infection, and loss of voice. See your herbalist for the right remedy for you.
A few Easy-to-find remedies are:
Cough: Gingertussin or Elderberry extract.
Sinus congestion: Neti pot with saline solution. Essential oil of Bai Zhi* dotted on sinus-clearing points (ask your acupuncturist for a body map to locate those points). *Essential oils are now being distilled from Chinese Herbs.
For digestive upset: essential oil of patchouli rubbed on the belly, surrounding the navel by 2-3”.
Loss of Voice: Pang Da Hai/Sterculia Powder.
- Take Vitamin C with Quercitin. Quercitin has anti-histamine properties and really makes a difference as the Pollens start to swirl.
- Strengthen your Immune System: Yu Ping Feng San
- Address the nasal irritation: Sinus Clear formula, and Neti-Pot rinsing with saline and a drop of essential oil of Bai Zhi/Angelica Dahurica.
- Customized Formula can be written for your Constitutional Weaknesses and Allergy symptoms. Ask your Acupuncturist-Herbalist to consider writing a custom formula for you.
We hope you feel better prepared for dealing with Colds, Flu and the coming Allergy Season. Please make sure that you are working with a medical professional who is trained in Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture.
Refill sources for Supplements and Herbs
Three Pots of Tea
The collective wisdom and perspective of three women who study and practice acupuncture and herbal medicine for over 20 years each. Over those decades, we have consumed countless pots of tea as we studied, compared notes, furthered our education and shared case studies in our commitment to grow as practitioners and help our patients reclaim their health and vitality.
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. West Los Angeles
Kia Sinay, L.Ac. Manhattan Beach
Therese Walsh-Van Keuren, PhD, L.Ac, Los Gatos