Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part 3

Part 3: Herbs and Supplements to Keep you Healthy and Strong During Flu Season

Welcome to Part 3 of our 4-part series on Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Part 1: we covered Prevention
Part 2: we covered what to do if you find yourself with the flu

Today we will discuss herbal ways to keep yourself healthy and strong during flu season.

One thing we want to stress: receiving acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal supplements for whatever symptoms you have, will only bring you more in balance, and make your immunity stronger.

You may find yourself giving an herbal supplement not mentioned here: that is ok. Chinese medicine is specific and unique to each individual. The herbs mentioned here are general recommendations, if you want to find out the best supplements or herbal medicines for you, please give us a call at (412) 381-0116 to set up and appointment. We would love to see you and take the time to personalize a program for you.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the actions the herbs have on your body is very important. The herbs we mention to strengthen immunity should not be taken if you already have a cold or the flu. Instead, it is important to switch to herbs which will expel the exterior, which means push the invading pathogens out. We will mention herbs for both situations below.

If you are in generally good health and what to stay that way, one supplement we have available at the Birch Center is called Immune Renew. This is a combination of the Chinese herb astragalus, reishi and other medicinal mushrooms. This combination is excellent for the immune system, and is often recommended to people with lowered immunity in general, for example people going through chemotherapy, or have immune deficiency syndromes.

Chinese herbal formulas which are good to tonify qi include:

  • Immune Renew: discussed above

  • Four Gentlemen, which is a basic formula to boost the qi

  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, boosts the body qi but also has a "lifting" action, if there are sinking symptoms such as bleeding and prolapses

  • Gui Pi Wan - boosts the qi and blood, when there are also signs of blood deficiency, which may show up as anxiety, irritability and insomnia

These all help boost general qi and affect the immune system, but in slightly different ways. Again, there are other formulas which may be more beneficial to you based on your individual symptoms. The one that matches you best is the best one for you to take to make you stronger and boost your own immunity. If you would like to consult with us, we'd be happy to see you. Just call (412) 381-0116 to set up an appointment.

If you find yourself coming down with something, feeling a bit run down but no general symptoms, you can take Echinacea and vitamin C. We love the brand Emergen-C, which has 1000 mg of vitamin C, plus B vitamins, magnesium and a few other things, and mixes into water for a delicious beverage. These products can be found at health food stores, or can be ordered online through Use coupon code MEL526 for $5 off your first order with iherb. We order from iherb regularly, their prices are awesome!

Another option is the Chinese herbal formula Yin Qiao Wan. This is especially good to take if you notice signs like sore throat, headache, thirst, or yellow tongue coating.

If you find yourself with a full blown bad cold or flu, Gan Mao Ling, is a wonderful Chinese remedy.

We do carry both Yin Qiao and Gan Mao Ling at the Birch Center.

Nutritionally, we mentioned miso soup yesterday, with scallions, garlic and ginger, all of which have the action of pushing the "invaders" out of your body.

The miso has the added benefit of being a live fermented food: tomorrow we will talk about how beneficial fermented (or cultured) foods like cultured veggies, sauerkraut, natural pickles, yogurts, etc are for your immunity. We'll talk to you then!

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for Acupuncture or to discuss a program of herbal medicines or supplements, or come by to pick up any of the herbs we mentioned, please call us at (412) 381-0116 or send us an email to


Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs
Birch Center for Health
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 381-0116