This might come too late for some people and I am sorry if you are already sniffling, sneezing, blowing or coughing. I have recently returned from a trip to find friends and clients suffering from colds and allergies. Even though that is a logical condition to experience with the season change, it doesn’t have to happen, really!
In Chinese Medicine a cold is an exterior condition since it is an acute pathogen entering the body from the external environment. The first step is prevention – keeping your exterior (immunity, skin, pores and joints) strong. I have successfully kept seasonal and winter colds away for several years. I’ve gotten the scratchy throat or minor sinus drainage but halted it from sinking deeper into my lungs avoiding cough, fatigue and time off from work.
An herbal formula like Jade Windscreen taken for several weeks prior to seasonal changes will strengthen immunity and balance Lung and Liver reducing seasonal allergies. Foods high in vitamin A, C and zinc and basic herbs such as rosehips, echinacea, parsley, nettles, ginseng, and barley grass will bolster the immune system. Energy boosters like Emergen-C help in a pinch.
The second step is know your very first symptom of a cold, don’t deny it’s a cold and treat it before it gets lodged into your respiratory system. The Chinese Medicine theory regarding colds is that Wind, the pathogen that causes the cold, enters at the nape of the neck.
General early signs of a cold: mild tiredness, headache, joint or neck aches,
chills, aversion to wind or cold, throat pressure or scratching, sinus sniffles,
sneezing or clear drainage. Fever, sore throat, fatigue or sinus pressure are
usually signs the cold is present and not an early sign. Each person is different
and you may have an early symptom that is not listed.
This second step reverses the pathogen’s progress. A practitioner recommends a tea with the action to vent energy up and out through the skin, or gua shas the neck and upper back, or needles points which will vent out the pathogen and strengthen the immune system. Gua sha, application of tool on the skin surface, causes the body to push out the Wind pathogen. Applying pressure and friction to the upper back and nape of the neck moves energy and blood mimicking the effects of sweating. The pores are stabilized reversing the pathogen’s progress.
If you want to treat yourself, you should sweat it out literally. Staying with the theory that the cold came in through your pores, push it out with sweat. Sweating will open your pores to release the pathogen. You don’t want to sweat to exhaustion since releasing sweat also releases your vital energy. If you have already been sweating since your early symptoms, you actually want to stop the sweating so don’t use the following instructions.
Drink a cup or two of hot tea of fresh herbs simmered and steeped in water – ginger or peppermint or cayenne or the sure fire scallion tea (3 – 5 stalks); or drink First Defense (my tactic for the last 8 years) a granule tea from Life Rising Herbs. Then take a steamy hot bath, stay warm keeping your pores open but protected by covering up and drink more tea while remaining warm and covered. Sweat away.
If you’ve been sweating from the start, this means your energy is a little on the weak side and you need to rest and to take herbs that will close the pores and increase your energy. Try drinking cinnamon twig and fresh ginger tea or a vegetable leek soup – foods that are nurturing, warm and slightly sweet natured.
The third step, if you didn’t catch your first sign of imbalance (most people get stuck at denying it’s a cold), is prevent it from reaching your lungs. To prevent that cough and mucus, you may need to let it run its course or get in to your local herbalist. Basic herbal formulas are as numerous as drugstore remedies. Over-the-counter cough suppressants do just that they suppress the cough pushing it deeper. It could just allow the pathogen to lie dormant until later in the season or push it down into the digestive system causing other symptoms. A cough causing discomfort, lack of sleep, or fatigue can benefit from a cough formula or syrup from