Treating Colds and Flu with Nutrition and Chinese Medicine

In the midst of cold and flu season, many people are reaching for some kind of relief.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has been tested time and time again against time to be shown effective in both the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.  There are specific points an acupuncturist can use as well as herbal formulas and nutritional treatments. 

The first line of defense is proper nutrition. Make sure to eat plenty of vitamin C and zinc when you come down with a cold or flu.  Vitamin C is one of the best immune system boosters known to man.  Eat foods high in vitamin C or take a supplement at the first sign of feeling sick.  This will help the virus from being as long and severe as it could be.  Foods high in vitamin C include: strawberries, potatoes, oranges, tangerines, kiwis, and red peppers.

Zinc is also a great help to the immune system when taken at the first sign of a virus.  Zinc is known to weaken the virus which diminishes the length and severity of a cold or flu as well.  Many lozenges contain zinc for this reason.  Foods that are high in zinc include: lamb, wheat, beef, chicken and barley.

Garlic is also known for its antimicrobial properties and can help strengthen the immune system.  It will also help with nasal congestion.  Garlic can be eaten raw, cooked or taken as a supplement.

Make sure to avoid eating processed food, sugar, high fructose corn syrup because these foods lower our immunity.  Make sure to wash your hands frequently as well.  Exercising and getting some daily sunlight due to the vitamin D will also promote immune function!

The second line of defense can be herbs and acupuncture.  Acupuncture can help prevent colds and flu by strengthening our Qi (our life energy) and balance our system.  Like mentioned earlier, there are specific points on the body that promote “releasing the exterior” which expels the pathogen (as it’s called in Chinese Medicine) causing you to feel ill as well as promote the body’s natural immunity lowering the risk of even catching the virus.

If you feel like a virus is starting to plague your system, there are some herbal formulas that can be taken.  They have less side effects that traditional cold medication and instead of masking the symptoms, they actually promote immunity and kick the virus faster!  Yin Qiao contains cooling herbs and is used for sore throats, headaches, runny nose and a slight yellow tongue coat.  Gan Mao Ling is indicated during a cold or flu for symptoms such as a headache and body aches.  These supplements can be found at a natural foods market or through a licensed acupuncturist.  If you buy them through the natural foods market, please check with your doctor first before taking them.

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Ali Damron, LAc., DiplAc (NCCAOM)

Colorado Licensed Acupuncturist

Colorado Licensed Acupuncturist

Ali graduated from the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to PIHMA, she graduated from Arizona State University.