Monday, February 4, 2013

Acupuncture, Herbs, And Tea to Treat Colds and Flu

photo: Wikimedia Commons
According to Chinese Medicine, when we catch a cold or the flu, an external pathogen has entered the body, like a foreign invader entering a country. We must mount our own defense and try to push them back out. The symptoms we feel: aches, headache, stuffy nose, sore throat - are evidence of the battle going on.

Acupuncture treatment helps in two ways:

  1. It strengthens the body to help it mount the immune response
  2. It helps to release the pathogen.

Instead of using the terms bacteria or virus, in Chinese Medicine we use the terms: Wind, Cold, and Heat. Usually Wind-cold enters the body, causing the classic cold and flu symptoms: headache, runny nose, aches, fatigue. If it turns to heat in the body, you will feel a sore throat and may have more of a fever as well. We use special herbal formulas depending on the symptoms: classically Yin Qiao for the Wind-Heat type, and Pe Min Gan Wan for the Wind Cold. If the symptoms linger in the sinuses or a sinus infection is present, we may also use Bi Yan Wan. These formulas are groups of many herbs which are specific to those symptoms.

At the Birch Center, during acupuncture we tend to use points such as:

  • Spleen 6 and Stomach 36 (on the lower legs) to support the energy, giving strength to the body to be able to fight the infection
  • Large Intestine 4, (on the hand) especially if headache is present
  • Triple Warmer 5 (on the forearm), to help release the pathogen, especially useful if there is fever alternating with chills
  • Lung 7, (wrist) to stimulate the "Protective Qi" of the body, which is controlled by the Lungs
  • Large Intestine 11 (forearm, near elbow crease) which is an immune point
  • We may use points on the head and face, especially if headache or sinus symptoms are present
  • Gall Bladder 20 (where the back of the head meets the neck) to release the external pathogen
  • Bladder 12 and 13: to clear sinuses, and stimulate the Lung energy
  • Bladder 20: to help support the body's energy and digestion

We also frequently use a technique called sliding cups along the Bladder meridians of the back. This gentle treatment feels great, and also powerfully released Wind (Cold or Heat) that is trapped in the body, especially causing achiness and other symptoms.

Things you can do at home include:

  • using plenty of garlic, onions and ginger
  • making a tea by simmering pieces of fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks (you can add honey before drinking. Recipe below.)

All the above foods and spices are also considered herbs in Chinese medicine. They help release Wind and Cold from the body. They are also slightly warming, and the ginger cinnamon tea is great this time of year!

Ginger Cinnamon Tea

Fresh Ginger
Dried Cinnamon Sticks

  • Cut 3-5 slices from the ginger and put in pot with 4 cups of water.
  • Add a cinnamon stick and bring to boil.
  • Turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Pour liquid into a mug, add honey to taste and enjoy.

*If you like a stronger tasting tea, add more ginger and/or cinnamon, or simmer longer.

For more information or to set up an appointment you can give us a call: (412) 381-0116.

Love to all,
~ Melissa and Dave

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Read these articles by Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac. in Natural News for more information: