We are all familiar with the phrase “there’s no cure for the common cold.” According to Chinese medicine views, however, this statement is a falsehood. Not only can the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs treat colds by easing symptoms and shortening the duration of a virus, it is also a wonderful preventative method to strengthen your immune system to prevent infection from occurring in the first place. This is especially helpful for those who have frequent exposure to viruses.
The Chinese call invasions of these pathogens “wind”. Wind invasions can have cold or hot properties and can transform from one to another. It is most effective to pursue treatment at the very first sign of symptoms. The earlier you catch an illness, the easier and quicker it is to resolve. This is because wind invasions (which are typically cold in nature initially) start on the surface of the body where they are easy to expel. The classic symptoms of sneezing and sweating are your body’s attempt to expel a wind invasion that is still on the surface.
Over time, a pathogen can progress to deeper levels of the body where they become more severe and more difficult to resolve. We’ve all had the experience of a “head cold” moving into the chest or clear phlegm becoming yellow. When a pathogen is deeper in the body, heat and stagnation become factors in the illness, resulting in symptoms such as fever and body aches.
Treatment with a combination of both needles and Chinese herbs can be highly effective. Acupuncture can assist the body in expelling the pathogen and can also break up stagnant phlegm. Herbal formulas treat symptoms and also have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Because wind invasions can take different forms, it’s very important to take the correct herbal formula. The wrong formula can drive an invasion deeper and create a more serious illness. If you aren’t familiar with the symptoms and appropriate herbal formula for wind-cold vs. wind-heat, be sure to consult a trained herbalist.
Rebecca is an avid boater, biker, skier and lover of wild places. After many years as an outdoor leadership educator, she earned her Masters degree in Oriental Medicine and started a private practice. Rebecca also runs a local non-profit dedicated to the access, stewardship and education around the local Snake River watershed.