As the seasons change and the weather cools down people are more likely to catch a cold. Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine generally agree on the symptoms of the common cold: a runny nose, sore throat, chills, fever, and a general feeling of malaise. Western medicine views this condition as a viral infection of the upper respiratory system. The Chinese medicine view is that external pathogens, like wind-cold or wind-heat, invades the upper part of the body. The symptoms are the response of the body fighting back to get rid of the pathogens. Both Western and Chinese medicines share this view. Both medicines agree that prevention is the best approach.

How To Prevent The Common Cold

Chinese medicine suggests avoiding exposure to wind by bundling up and covering the upper back and neck if windy conditions are present.

Western medicine does not fully explain why it is easier to catch a cold in the cold weather. One thought is that people tend to share a closed space during the winter, which it makes easier for the virus to be transmitted from person to person. The transmission is through fluid droplets from the mouth or nose (when talking, sneezing, or touching the nose and then shaking hands with another person). Other views suggest that in the winter time the air indoors is drier because of the heating systems of buildings, the droplets that may contain the viruses can float in the air for a longer time, and by doing so they have a better opportunity to land on a human and infect them. Western medicine claims that prevention is very efficient, suggesting frequent hand washing, sneezing into the inside of the elbow, and avoiding crowded spaces. Chinese medicine claims, along the same lines, that supporting the Defensive Qi (the immune system) will strengthen the body and allow it to fight off the external pathogen more efficiently.

More on Prevention From a Chinese Medicine Perspective

According to Chinese medicine, proper digestion will provide the nutrients for the optimal function of the body. During the cold season one should avoid raw and cold foods and instead consume cooked and warm foods, like soups, stews, and plenty of warm teas. Spices which promote and “warm” the digestion are preferred, such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg. Also, keeping stress under control and getting rejuvenating sleep will help to support the immune system.

Acupuncture Can Help Prevent And Also Treat The Common Cold

Acupuncture treatments will ensure that the body, including the immune system, functions at optimal levels. It has been used for thousands of years for preventing and treating the cold. It will significantly speed up the healing and shorten up the duration of the cold. Acupuncture supports the body in its fight to expel the pathogens by allowing free blood flow to all organs, thus supplying the nutrients and the oxygen the body needs for self-healing.

Fine needles are inserted into specific points along channels, chosen accordingly to the constitution and symptoms. Treating the common cold with acupuncture will relieve the symptoms and also rectify imbalances, so that a new infection can be prevented. Accessory techniques, such as gua sha, cupping, and moxibustion will enhance the effects of the acupuncture.

Chinese Herbs To Treat The Common Cold

Many Chinese herbs have antiviral and antibacterial properties, especially those in the categories of Cold Relieve Exterior, Warm Relieve Exterior, and Reduce Heat. Combinations of those herbs create formulas, tested by frequent use over hundreds of years. The principle of the treatment is to induce sweating. This is why consuming foods that induce sweating, like spicy soups, or using the sauna, can help in relieving the cold symptoms. In conjunction with acupuncture, the Chinese herbs will significantly reduce the length of a common cold.