Learn about the signs of an on-coming cold and what to do if you’ve been caught.
Several nights of poor sleep, bad dietary choices, lack of exercise, and stress are the most common reasons why we catch a cold. Once this weakened state is created, the ‘door way’ for disease is opened.
In clinical practice, there are two basic types of colds with accompanying signs and symptoms that are seen frequently. In Chinese terminology, they are referred to as the Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat patterns. Let’s have a look at their warning signs and some herbs that are used to treat their patterns.
This pattern often occurs with a change of weather or when one is exposed to wind and cold when in a weakened state. This allows the pathogens to enter and cause chills, sneezing, stiff neck, itchy eyes or nose, headache, fever without sweat, body aches, cough, trouble breathing, lack of thirst, nasal congestion and discharge that can be either clear or whitish in color. These are often the first symptoms of a cold. Treatment at this stage involves warming the body and sweating out the pathogens.
Chinese herbal medicine has many remedies for this type of cold, like cinnamon twig, magnolia flower, perilla leaf, licorice, ginger, platycodi root, apricot kernel, etc. These types of herbs are often mixed together for best effect. Ask us if your interested in learning about a formula that is right for you.
This pattern differs from the above in that one experiences a high fever, sore throat, thirst, some chills, cough, headache, body ache, and yellow nasal discharge or sputum. Occasionally some people experience red eruptions or a rash on the skin. Constipation is also likely.
After being exposed to wind and cold, the pathogens may move to this stage if not properly treated or if the immune system is not strong enough to fight off the cold. Treatment at this stage involves cooling the body and controlling the sweat to prevent too much moisture from being lost.
Herbal formulas containing mint, chrysanthemum, gypsum, mulberry leaf, lonicera, forsithia, and blupeurum are frequently used.
Dietary & Lifestyle Advice
The most important thing to remember is to get plenty of rest. Working through a cold is a recipe for future problems. We must slow down and let our body heal itself. Giving our body a chance to recover by not over-burdening it is nature’s best medicine.
For the Wind-Cold type, incorporate some ginger, garlic, mustard greens, parsnip, scallions, cinnamon, basil, and cilantro into your meals. The key is to not overeat. Keep your meals simple and easy to digest. Rice porridge and soup is best. Avoid eating shellfish, heavy proteins or fats, all diary, all cold and raw foods, meat, all fruit and all vinegars.
For the Wind-Heat type, consuming some mint, cabbage, chrysanthemum, dandelion, apples, and pears are great choices. It is especially important to stay hydrated with this type of cold. Avoid shellfish, meats, vinegar, wind or drafts, alcohol, all diary products, coffee, nuts, smoking, sugar and all hot or spicy foods.
Becoming aware of the warning signs & causes is your best defense in the event you catch a cold. Quickly adjusting your lifestyle and diet can remedy 90% of all colds in 1-3 days.
Remember, it is not natural for us to never get sick. It is good to exercise the immune system once or twice a year to keep it strong and healthy. Taking strong cold medicines like antibiotics is like sending an army to catch a thief and is a sure way to weaken your immune function.
Using acupuncture & herbal medicine is a gentle and effective way to rid the body of pathogens without injuring your health.