A question we encounter regularly this time of year: “Can Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture help with cold and flu season?
The resounding answer is “absolutely”. Acupuncture is able to stimulate the immune system, providing protection against the ubiquitous cold & flu viruses that lurk in classrooms, homes and public places.
Common symptoms include headache, cough, sore throat, aches, chills, fever, runny nose and stuffy sinuses.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we look closely at the unique way each person is exhibiting their illness. Is there a sore throat? Is the person cold or hot (or both)? Are they sweating? If there is a cough, is it productive or dry? What color is the mucus?
The answers to these questions provide us with the information we need to treat the symptoms properly. We will balance the system by providing warming treatment (acupuncture and herbs) for a “cold” cold, or cooling and relieving treatment for a “hot” cold (one with a fever, sore throat and thirst).
Here are some common patterns patients come in with:
Wind Cold Invasion: Chills, aversion to cold, no fever or a very mild one. Sometimes some achiness. Facial color is usually pale. There may be runny nose with clear phlegm, sneezing, or loose stools. For this pattern, we may use warming therapy in addition to acupuncture. We have herbal remedies that warm the body, resolve the phlegm and mucus and are anti-viral.
Wind Heat Invasion: Feeling hot, fever, running and stuffy nose, or dry nose. Sweating, sneezing, thirst, sore and swollen throat, coughing out thick, yellow phlegm and dry mouth are typical symptoms of wind heat. When treating wind-heat, we use acupuncture points that clear heat and fever, and herbs that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial if needed.
Other signs and symptoms may be present, such as back or neck pain, headache, loose stools or constipation, abdominal bloating, stomachache, nausea, vomiting, indigestion. These symptoms are also taken into consideration when designing an acupuncture treatment or suggesting herbs, as well as potential other treatments that could be used for various symptoms, such as this useful tool that could be an alternative solution to treat constipation, as just one example of other treatment options that could be available to personally test to see if they work for you.
The big take-away every acupuncturist would love for you to know?
Prevention is best. Come get an acupuncture treatment monthly, or with the change of seasons, to keep the immune system strong and to prevent viruses from having a fertile ground to grow in. Whilst getting regular acupuncture treatment can prevent cold and flu from developing, it might also be worth looking for other methods that could prevent this virus. Some people like to take extra steps to avoid getting cold and flu symptoms by wearing facemasks, similar to this kn95 mask, to prevent them picking up the virus in public places where others may already be carrying the virus.
If you do begin to experience symptoms, call to get in asap! The sooner we can catch it, the more we can help. Don’t hesitate to call. We can almost always squeeze you in on the same day.