Start with the basics:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, foods high in antioxidants.
- Get plenty of exercise. If you are just starting to come down with something, you can often “sweat it out of your system,” with a run or workout or a session in the sauna. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we say that the pathogen enters the body through the outer layers, skin, and muscles. Before the pathogen has lodged deeper into the body, it can be cleared through the surface, and movement and sweating is a great way to do so. Another great way is gua sha or cupping (more on that below).
- Get plenty of rest, especially when you are starting to feel run-down.
- Keep stress to a minimum. Stress suppresses the immune system. Of course, we cannot always avoid stress, but we can help to counterbalance stress with good self-care, which may include acupuncture treatments, deep breathing, meditating, reading a good book while sipping a hot cup of tea, spending time in nature, or playing with your kids or pets.
- I highly recommend getting regular acupuncture treatments. We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! So come in for regular visits before you get sick!
- Come in for a treatment at the first sign of something brewing so we can nip it in the bud before it turns into anything more.
How we approach the common cold in Chinese Medicine:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we distinguish between two types of common cold. In both cases, we say that Wind is the pathogen that enters the body and can bring with it other pathogens, usually either Heat or Cold, which makes for a combination of Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold.
The symptoms differ, depending on the pattern, and we treat the patient accordingly. We use different herbs and different acupuncture points depending on the particular presentation, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
With a Wind-Heat invasion, we usually see signs and symptoms that include a headache, sore throat, fever, thirst, and thick yellow mucus, a rapid pulse, and a reddish tongue.
With a Wind-Cold invasion, signs and symptoms may include copious runny and clear mucus, body aches, fatigue, chills, sneezing, and a pale tongue.
Once the pathogen has entered the deeper layers of the body, patterns and symptoms change again and we treat accordingly. At this point, the pathogen needs to be cleared by purging through the interior and the exterior-release approaches would no longer be appropriate.
We recommend seeing your practitioner to help you differentiate patterns and determine which course of action is best for you.
Cupping & gua sha:
- Cupping and gua sha (aka scraping) are techniques that can be helpful to release the pathogen when a cold is still in its initial stages.
- For severe sore throats or high fevers, may we use a technique called bleeding, where we might prick the ears or fingertips and release a few drops of blood as a way to release excess Heat from the body.
Some go-to supplements when you are sick or starting to feel a cold coming on:
- Increase intake of Vitamin C and D
- Increase probiotics (a healthy immune system starts with a healthy gut)
- Elderberry (available as syrup, tincture, lozenges)
- Echinacea (not recommended for people with auto-immune disorders)
- Homeopathic remedies, such as Oscillococcinum, Cold Calm, and Sinusalia (by Boiron)
- Zinc (take with food, as it can cause nausea on an empty stomach; other cautions: can lower blood sugar, caution with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase risk of bleeding)
- Colloidal silver (spray in back of throat, or mix drops with water to gargle)
- Hydrogen peroxide (gargle with a mixture of warm water and hydrogen peroxide, 1:1 ratio)
- Gargle with warm water and sea salt
- Grapefruit seed extract (add a few drops to water and swallow or gargle)
- Essential oils (blends such as OnGuard, by doTerra, have antimicrobial properties; peppermint is cooling for a sore throat or a headache)
- For congestion: use the Netipot daily; do steam w/ eucalyptus oil, run a diffuser with essential oils
- Saline spray to clear up stuffiness
- Sage tea with honey to soothe sore throats
- Hot water with lemon, honey, and a dash of cayenne