Acupuncturists use some pretty weird terms such as meridians, excess, deficient, or stagnation. Even more common maladies such as colds and the flu have their own special names. Typically when someone has a cold or the flu we say they have a wind-heat or wind-cold invasion. This sounds pretty strange, right? Let’s break down what these mean, but first some background:
Today if someone has a cold we usually assume it’s a viral infection. People take all sorts of remedies to shorten a cold, but usually it lasts 7-10 days (sometime it could be longer, depending on the person and the virus). Since acupuncture is thousands of years old, we know the people who started it didn’t know about viruses and bacteria. They used a different terminology to describe what they saw happening in the body and to describe the herbs used as treatments. They did this for everything in the body, not just the flu or a cold.
Wind-heat and wind-cold are a way to describe symptoms of the patient. Wind-heat is seen when the person has more of a fever, feels hot, also their sneeze, or cough, produces phlegm, or mucus, yellow in color.
Wind-cold shows up with more “cold” symptoms. Chills, and all phlegm, or mucus, is white or clear. It is usually more complicated than this, but these are just a few basic symptoms to give you an idea of what we’re looking for.
In acupuncture we have multiple ways to diagnose and treat a cold or the flu. There is one herbal formula for wind-heat, Yin Qiao San, and another for wind-cold, Gui Zhi Tang. Both of these have herbs, when analyzed, have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Other formulas we can use for these conditions have herbs which help with sore throats, coughs, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a cold or flu.
This is not meant to be a way for someone to diagnose themselves or to prescribe herbs for themselves. The best thing to do when you think you might be coming down with something is to rest, and drink a good cup of warm ginger tea.
As for acupuncturists, we do not mind seeing someone with a cold or the flu. If you can, come in and we can give you a quick treatment to help you feel better. We might even be able to give you some herbs that might relieve, or alleviate, your symptoms.
Stay healthy this spring!