Treating Colds & Infections Naturally

Treating Colds & Infections Naturally Fort Myers

Chinese Medicine’s Understanding of Colds and Flus

In some respects, Chinese medicine’s fundamental understanding is no different than Western medicine. For example, both systems agree that colds and flus occur from an external pathogen entering the body. However, within a Chinese medicine paradigm, this must be understood within the context of the individual’s constitution. Fundamentally, there must be some weakness (e.g. immune deficiency) for a pathogen to invade. Anything that weakens one’s resistance (overwork, not sleeping, eating poorly, etc.) can weaken one’s immune system and allow a pathogen to attack and enter, causing disease.

Furthermore, the patient’s constitution (underlying pattern) coupled with the nature of the pathogen that is attacking will determine what symptoms and how colds and flus will present in that given individual. We all have seen two people get the “same colds” and have completely different symptoms. This occurs precisely because of this interaction. This is fundamental to Chinese medicine’s viewpoint and plays a crucial role not only in treatment but also in prevention of colds and flus.

Prevention of Colds and Flus

Because of the complexity of each individual, there is no one supplement that can be recommended for the prevention of colds and flus. There are many single herbs, that are touted to have this effect, and to be “immune boosting.” This is not necessarily incorrect/ however there are a few problems with this type of thinking that must be understood in the context of Chinese medicine theory.

  1. Chinese herbs are rarely given in isolation, as a single medicinals, but rather in synergistic combinations.
  2. more importantly, even if an herb is given in isolation, and is known to be a great “immune booster” it may be completely inappropriate for one person and extremely appropriate for another person (for example, many people will develop problems, and hence weaken their immune system, if Astragalus (huang qi) is given). Understanding this is the art and hallmark of Chinese medicine.

The ability to diagnose the individual and come up with a treatment strategy that fits that person’s underlying imbalance is paramount to boosting one’s immune system, rather than simply picking a medicinal that has a Western function of “boosting the immune system.” Consequently, any formula or treatment strategy that can address underlying imbalances (strengthen deficiencies and/or eliminate excess pathogens/toxins from the body) will in turn allow the body’s immune system to work optimally, thereby strengthening it. Therefore, recommending any single herbs or strategies for the general population is not optimal, although it may help a certain percentage of people.

Treatment of Colds and Flus

As noted above, Chinese medicine and Western medicine agree on some fundamental ideas on why colds and flus occur. However, the treatment strategies are drastically different between the two.

First and foremost Chinese medicine treats every cold and flu case differently. An experienced practitioner will rarely give a premade prepared formula (unless there is no other option). In general, Western medicine offers little for colds and flues except from symptomatic treatment such as decongestants etc.. (unless things get severe). They often say drink some water and get some rest; saying, “it will just run its course.” In contrast, Chinese medicine takes a very proactive role in eliminating the pathogen and resolving the disease process, drastically shortening the time one is sick. This is important because Chinese medicine believes that many chronic diseases (for example asthma) come from repeated colds or flus that are not resolve properly.

Chinese medicine, even when there is a bacterial infection, always employs strategies to push out the pathogen and not just “kill it.” This unique understanding (which dates back over 1,800 years) drastically cuts down on lingering colds and flus or cold and flus that reemerge after having been seemingly resolved. This is accomplished through an individualized blend of medicines that fit the exact symptoms that the patient is presenting with that pushes the pathogen out through the surface while at the same time paying attention to the patient’s underlying constitutional pattern.

Because of all this, we greatly enjoy treating colds and flus in children and adults. We find a great satisfaction in having a patient tell us that they are going down for the count, which usually leaves them sick for a week or two, and one or two days later be completely better. We feel that if one treats a cold or flu in the earliest stage, it can be prevented completely. Even if one has a cold and flu that has been going on for some time (e.g. a week or two) and has gotten very severe, Chinese medicine can many times successfully reverse the situation, avoiding antibiotics. However, when necessary, Chinese medicine works very well to complement a Western medical approach of antibiotics.