Chinese Medicine: Simple Tips for Preventing Colds and Flu

By Autumn Bear M.S., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.
Autumn Bear M.S., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.
Autumn Bear M.S., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.
December 18, 2013 Updated: December 16, 2013

This season there has already been an onslaught of patients flocking into my office to seek relief from to the current cold strain.

It is the same each year with the change of seasons, and it comes as no surprise, especially in the winter, when colds spread like wildfire. But there are a couple simple things we can do to protect ourselves and our children from getting a cold or the flu.

Colds can come from several different origins. We can catch a cold by being exposed to changes in temperature and to wind, or we can catch it from those around us.

If we are looking at weather exposure, the first thing we can do is to make sure that we keep our neck covered as soon as the winds pick up. In Chinese medicine, colds are known as “wind invasions.”

Wind gets lodged in the upper part of the body, after exposure to hot, cold, or damp wind. Then the body’s response system gets triggered to push it out. This is when we begin to feel groggy, get fever and chills, have nasal discharge, sneezing, fatigue, and the like.

We can divert the onset of a cold due to weather changes by simply wearing a scarf. Adjust the color, texture, and warmth of your scarf to suit your needs, but keep that neck covered!

Immune Support

Next, we can boost our immune system from the inside. We may be mindful of our wind invasion from the outer atmosphere, but we also need to keep our immune system healthy so that we can avoid the invasion of a cold once it is being passed around among the people we spend time with.

Our immune systems are often compromised because we are under too much stress, are getting poor sleep or not enough, or don’t have enough nutrition. There are a few natural ways we can prep for cold and flu season.

Besides the obvious—reduce stress, get sleep, eat well—we can add a few components that will enhance our already healthy choices.

First, pickle some garlic about a month before cold season begins (around August is a good time, but it’s never too late to start).

When the pickled garlic is ready to be eaten, eat one clove a day. Garlic is an incredible anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-viral herb. It’s not just to repel vampires, although if you have that problem, then you probably aren’t worrying about the common cold!

Garlic is a food that causes Qi to move up and out, which means we are stimulating our immune system. It is a great way to reduce inflammation and also to keep the body’s defense mechanism in working order.

We can also apply Mullein Garlic Ear Drops once a week. Applying the drops into the ear canal allows the mullein garlic to interact with our lymph system. The lymph system plays an integral role in the movement of toxins and invasive materials, and we rely on it to help cleanse our body.

Allowing the herbs to interact with the lymph system helps to stimulate its movement and to cleanse, clear, and detoxify the lymph drainage system that we need to have working as efficiently as possible to keep us well.

If you see that a cold and or flu is going around your office, you can increase the drops to every day, and if you feel a cold coming on, then you can put them in every hour. I often take them with me when I travel to make sure that I stay healthy while under travel stress and the inundation of toxins that bombard us on planes.

These methods are safe for kids, so don’t hesitate to get your kids on board for a little cold and flu prep.

Some people worry that there may be a garlic aftertaste in using these methods, but I assure you that a garlic taste is far better than being sick in bed.

Stay happy, healthy, and in good order this cold and flu season!

Autumn Bear, M.S., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., is a practitioner of classical Chinese medicine and a lover of food and its healing powers. In addition to her Midtown practice, she travels and teaches internationally to medical professionals about the efficacy of acupuncture in modern medicine.