Autumn is typically the time of year when a lot of people tend to catch the common cold. This jibes with the theory of traditional Chinese medicine that each organ system is related to a specific season; in the case of autumn, the organ it corresponds with is the lungs. But, it goes without saying that you can also catch a cold not only during autumn, it’s just that colds are more widespread during autumn more so if the person has an out of balance or weak lung system. Autumn, therefore, is a proper time to beef up the lung system.

Why do we need a strong lung system?

In Chinese medicine, the lung system is responsible for the function of breathing, the skin, and the nose. It also governs the flow of protective energy called Wei Qi, which in Western medicine is very similar to the immune system. The body is strong enough to ward off disease when this energy is strong, conversely pathogens that can cause the common cold may enter the body when this energy is weak.

How can we strengthen Wei Qi?

Lung qi can be strengthened and vital energy (qi) can flow properly through exercises, such as brisk walking for 20 minutes. Adequate rest and a proper diet can make certain that energy levels are restored and/or maintained. Some foods that can enhance Lung Qi include fresh ginger, yam, sweet potato, oats, carrots, garlic, tofu, honey, grapes, glutinous rice, and strawberry.

TCM healing techniques in Miami such as herbal medicine and acupuncture can also beef up the lung Qi. There are several herbal remedies in the form of tablets, tinctures, or tea that can be taken to boost immunity. They should used on a regular basis just before the onset of the cold season. Herbs usually included in those remedies are scallion, ginger, root of angelica, atractylodes, siler, ginseng, and astragalus. These herbs are also very effective in treating the common cold. Acupuncture should only be administered by a licensed acupuncturist.

How are herbs able to prevent or treat the common cold?

Traditional Chinese medicine sets about treatment from what is called branch and root, with the branch being the manifested symptoms and the root being the underlying cause of the problem. Hence, the herbs selected will have qualities that address cough, sore throat, body ache, headache, congestion, and sneezing. Herbs designed to strengthen the qi of the body are next used once symptoms are resolved. A popular immune tonic that is mild enough to be used every day is Reishi mushroom tea.

Other preventative measures that can be used daily include a neti pot to clear the nasal passages, the above mentioned 20 minutes of brisk walking, a diffuser with essential oils like cedar and eucalyptus, yoga breathing exercises, and stretching to open the chest.