Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a restful holiday. Although we are entering a new year, we are still in the midst of winter. Winter from a Chinese medicine perspective is a time for rest and renewal. Yin energy is predominant, meaning the body’s natural tendency is to be more still: to stay at home, read, regroup, rest. Some people may experience a general lack of a desire to be social or participate in major external activities. Don’t feel guilty or “lazy” about feeling this way. You are living according to nature’s natural cycle. Just wait until spring; you will find you have a surge of newfound energy!
Winter is a good time to start up with regular acupuncture treatments. The external environment and change in the weather patterns, such as wind, rain, and snow, can bring on colds especially if you are feeling run down and exhausted. I’m treating a lot of patients with head colds and the initial onset of cough and fevers lately. As soon as you are feeling symptoms such as headache, body aches, unusual sweating, fever, chills, sore throat, cough, fatigue and/or depression, it means it’s time to schedule an acupuncture appointment. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective in treating the initial onset of colds. While my patients are resting on the treatment table with their needles, I will then prepare an herbal formula for them to take home. I decipher whether their particular cold is more of a Wind-Cold pattern or a Wind-Heat pattern. The prepared formulas are different based on these patterns presentations.
In Chinese Medicine, a “Wind-Cold” and a “Wind-Heat” are two types of early-stage Cold patterns. For example, a patient with a Wind-Cold pattern will present with the following symptoms: fever and chills, head and body aches, clear or white nasal discharge, and a floating pulse. There are many types of Wind-Cold disorders, but the key treatment strategy is to release the pathogen from the exterior by inducing sweating. Based on the individual patient’s pattern presentation, I will decide the appropriate formula for the patient’s Wind-Cold pattern and prescribe an herbal formula accordingly. Alternatively, a patient with a Wind-Heat pattern will present with the following symptoms: fever, sweating, slight chills or a minor aversion to wind, headache, thirst, and a sore throat. Patients may also have a cough and/or redness surrounding their eyes. The pulse is usually floating or rapid. And the tongue can have a white or slightly yellow coating with slight redness at the tip. Heat moves quickly through the body and therefore herbal formulas for Wind-Heat patterns include herbs that are acrid and cooling, which help to release the pathogenic influence at the exterior level as well as clear heat. Also, pathogenic heat patterns tend to attack the lungs first and “injure the fluids” (causing dehydration). These formulas help to generate fluids and help the lungs to disseminate and descend fluids downwards.
Hopefully this will help you better understand colds from a Chinese medicine perspective. If this is confusing you, that’s okay too! All you need to know is acupuncture and Chinese herbs are a wonderful way to resolve the initial onset of a cold as well as boost your qi (your vital energy) in order to prevent illness in the future.
Here’s to a year of good health!