Colds and Flus

Ever since I started studying Chinese Medicine, I’ve noticed I was constantly giving people advice on the little things.  What herbal formulas to take when catching a cold; how to treat cuts and burns; which herbs were best for allergies; etc etc.  And though for the most part I always told people that everyone has a particular body constitution and formula A might be great for patient A, but not for patient B, I did find that a lot of my advice on these everyday simple topics tended to stay the same.  And thus the idea of the Alternative Home First-Aid Kit was born.  So I’ve decided to start a blog where I’ll separate the posts by categories of ailments.  By the time we’ll be done with this series, you’ll a have nice alternative health kit at home.

Before we start, I should pause for a moment and remind everyone that this Alternative Home First-Aid Kit is not to be used in emergencies when it is most appropriate to call 911.  These are for minor scrapes and burns only, ones that you might just cover with a band-aid.  My suggestions are simply to help the scrapes heal a bit faster than they typically would on their own.  The same goes for colds, flus, and other aches and pains.  If something is persistent and/or more severe than usual, please do not simply rely on my suggestions and make an appointment to see a doctor. 

Okay, without further ado, let us begin.


In Chinese Medicine, there are two types of colds.  We call one wind-cold and one wind-heat.  These present with different symptoms and thus have two types different of formulas.

Wind-Heat Symptoms:

·      Sore Throat

·      Chills and fever, but mostly fever

·      Higher temperatures

·      Yellow nasal discharge

·      Slight Cough with yellow phlegm

The herbal formulas (these are actually teas that come in three forms: raw, as in a bag of raw uncooked herbs, powdered, as in already cooked for you and in powdered form for you to mix with water and drink, and pills, as in cooked for you and squeezed into pill form) for these symptoms are called: Yin Qiao San, sometimes spelled Yin Chao San.  (The last word San could also be written as Tang or Wan.  Theses are all the same formula.)  And Gan Mao Ling.

*Side note: Gan Mao Ling can be used prophylactically if someone exposes you to a cold or flu.  You can take this formula before you feel symptoms to try and avoid getting sick.

Wind-Cold Symptoms:

·      Chills and fever, but mostly chills

·      Aversion to wind

·      Scratchy throat, not sore yet

·      Clear or white nasal discharge

·      If there’s a cough it must not have yellow phlegm.  If it does, then the pattern is more complicated and one needs to see a professional for more guidance.

There are a couple formulas that could be used with this pattern.  Gui Zhi San is one formula. Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan is another option if there is a headache accompanying the other wind-cold symptoms. 

You’ll find some of these formulas (in pill form) available at Whole Foods or your local Co-ops.  Others could be bought on Amazon.  Since you will most likely find them in pill form,  you should simply follow the instructions on the bottle.  Some brands that I like: Mayway (plumflower), Health Concerns and Spring Wind. 

If you are someone who suffers from colds more than twice a year, I would say that you need to work on your immune strength.  There are formulas and supplements to help you with that, but we’ll get into the specifics on a later post. 

If you are someone who immediately gets a deep cough that turns into bronchitis every time you catch a cold, there are also formulas for you to strengthen you lungs.  These are more complicated and thus need to be tailored towards your constitution.  But I’d like you to know that answers are out there and your local Acupuncturist should be able to help you. 

And there you have it.  Our first set of formulas for your Alternative Home First-Aid Kit.  If you are interested in single raw herbs or more detailed suggestions, please email me.  Or if you have any other questions about this post, also email me.  Thanks so much for reading.  Happy staying healthy!