Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.
- Treating the Common Cold
- A Home Herbal Herbal Immune Stimulant
- Choosing a Remedy
- Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Chinese Patented Cold Remedies
- An Ayurvedic Remedy For Colds
- What to Eat or not Eat When Treating a Cold
Treating the Common Cold
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine
|Traditional Chinese Medicine has several formulas that effectively treat colds. Interestingly enough, most of these are similar to those previously described, not so much in terms of the individual herbs that are used, but the basic therapeutic principle of treatment being to stimulate circulation and induce perspiration.|
|Cinnamon Twig Tea||Cinnamon Twig Tea (Gui Zhi Tang) was first described in the most important clinical manual of TCM composed by Chang Chung Ching (A.D.142-220). It consists of the following:
This combination is especially suitable for patients of a more delicate or frail constitution. After taking one or two cups of the tea, one should retire to bed to sweat. It should then be followed by a bowl of rice porridge a half hour or so after sweating to replenish any lost vitality.
The Shang Han Lun of Chang Chung Ching, from which this formula is taken, was essentially dedicated to treating colds and other contagious diseases caused by cold. The reason as stated by Chang in his preface, “two-thirds of my relatives (more than two hundred) succumbed to disease, seven-tenths of which (deaths) were due to an epidemic fever.” Evidently colds leading to more serious upper respiratory problems were also an issue in 2nd century China as well.
Medical inefficiency must also have been a problem since part of the intent of the book was to reform 2nd century Chinese medical practice. The Shang Han Lun consists of some 113 predominantly herbal formulas originally intended to treat acute, externally contracted disease such as colds, flus and fevers. Their therapeutic efficacy have since been more deeply understood and broadened so that they have become the core formulas of clinical Chinese herbalism as well as Japanese Kanpo herb medicine.
TCM tends to differentiate constitutionally between delicate, mediumor strong patients. Delicate patients tend to be underweight, colder, frailer and more susceptible to external diseases. Medium patients have a medium build and are neither pronouncedly delicate or excessive in build. Strong patients tend to have a large bodily frame, strong, excessive manner and less vulnerable to cold.
|Pueraria Decoction||While Cinnamon twig formula followed by rice porridge is for the delicate patient, Ge gan tang (Pueraria decoction) is for the patient of medium strength. It has many widespread uses, especially for accompanying symptoms of stiffness or tightness of the shoulders and neck, one of the specific uses for pueraria, popularly known as Kudzu. Pueraria combination consists of the following:
This is slowly simmered in 2 or 3 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes ina covered non-metallic vessel. One cup is taken two or three times daily.
|Ma Huang||The TCM formula for the strong constitution patient with larger bodily frame and seeming “energy to burn”. It therefore uses Ma Huang (ephedra) as the major adrenal stimulant to induce perspiration. This formula can also be used to prevent and treat acute asthmatic attacks. It consists of:
|Bupleurum and Cinnamon Combination||One of Chang Chung Ching’s formulas that is particularly useful for treating the common cold is called Bupleurum and Cinnamon Combination(Chai hu kuei chih tang). It consists of the following Chineseherbs:
This formula is good for those with a somewhat delicate constitution who have a tendency towards fatigue, gastrointestinal weakness,headache, heaviness in the head, neuralgia, fever, chills, floating pulse, distention beneath the heart. It is primarily used for treating the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis and pleuritis.
|Green Onion||Chinese herbal medicine is based on a rich unbroken herbal folk tradition. Just as I mentioned the use of garlic tea for the treatment of colds besides using simple fresh ginger tea, Chinese folk medicine uses the milder white bulbs of green onions (scallions) to treat the common cold and accompanying headache. One remedy uses 1 or 2 ounces of the lower white portion of scallions, with a few slices of fresh ginger steeped in a covered cup of water for 20 or 30 minutes. One or two cups is taken before retiring.|
Chinese Patented Cold Remedies
|Gan Mao Pian
Yin Chiao San
|Two patented Chinese herb formulas I like to have on hand are GanMao Pian and Yin Chiao San. These are in the form of herbal tablets available from Chinese herb pharmacies especially useful for treating symptoms of cold and flu. Gan mao in Chinese specifically refers to the common cold. These pills consist of herbs with antibiotic and antiviral properties that are very effective, not only for treatment, but to take occasionally for prevention during peak cold and flu season. Yin Chiao San is an herbal compound containing honeysuckle and forsythia blossoms, two herbs used by the Chinese because of their strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is particularly useful for treating influenza.|
An Ayurvedic Remedy For Colds
|Sito Paladi||In India, the vegetarian Hindus use a revered Ayurvedic preparation called Sito Paladi Churna for colds. This preparation depends on the use of certain herbs mixed with raw brown sugar to supplement nutritional energy. Most of the herbs in sito paladi are readily available and consists of the following: raw brown sugar, bamboomanna, pippli long pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. It is a primaryanti-kapha or anti-mucus remedy especially good for internal coldness with accompanying clear or whitish mucus. This delicious preparation is available from Indian import stores and is readily taken by children and adults. The average dose is a teaspoon of the powder two to four times daily or as needed.
Bamboo manna (phylostachys nigra) is the inner sap of bamboo. It is called zhu li in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is similarly used to clear inflammation and phlegm from the lungs. Pippli (piperlongum) called bi ba in TCM, along with the other ingredients insito paladi are hot and counter balance the cooling energy of bamboo manna. Although, not as preferred, one can substitute black pepper forpippli in this formula. These herbs tend to stimulate circulation and raise the body’s resistance to external cold pathogens.
A simplification of this combination is readily made by combining powdered black pepper, cardamom, echinacea root (either purpurea orangusti folia) and, if available, adding kudzu starch powder. The dried herbs should be finely powdered and mixed with warm honey to form a thick goupy consistency. In this form, it can be stored in a small wide mouthed jar and will keep indefinitely unrefrigerated. A teaspoon of this combination can be taken three or four times a day followed by a cup of boiled warm water.
What to Eat or not Eat When Treating a Cold
|Resting the Digestive System||Finally, a question frequently asked is whether or not to eat during acold. Usually one is not hungry but that mere fact may not be sufficient reason for some of the more glutinous to feel that they must eat no matter what. Considering that the object is to give the digestive and nervous system as much of a rest as possible, it is advised to eat as lightly as your particular frame and constitution will endure. If you are one of those frailer and more malnourished types, you should eat light nourishing soups or thin rice porridge. If you are more excess, complete fasting for a day or two, taking only tea or boiled warm water is in order. For the middling, thin rice porridge (or any warm whole grain cereal) is best. In general, black bean chili and rice soup with the addition of coriander, cumin seed,chili and garlic is a good dish to take when treating a cold or flu.
Since the beginning of recorded history, people have been vulnerable to occasional colds and flu. As a result there is a wealth of practical dietary and herbal wisdom for us to draw upon from many cultures. As we have seen, proper treatment of a cold can range from the simplest use of drinking boiled warm water to a complex Chinese herbal formula from the second century A.D. Once established, a cold might have to simply run its course. Even then, its duration and discomfort can be reduced considerably with therapeutic diet and herbs. Proper treatment will also help prevent what might at first be a simple common disease from developing into a more complicated life threatening problem.