The cold and flu season is upon us. In today’s article we will discuss the common cold and some home remedies to help you prevent its onset or overcome it in a timely fashion.
The Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract (nose, lungs and throat). There are over 100 viruses that can cause the common cold, however, the most common of the 100 is the human Rhinovirus (Rhino = nose) and there are 99 different types of the human Rhinovirus. The Rhinovirus is highly contagious and is spread via airborne droplets and hand to hand contact. The virus enters the body through the nose, eyes or mouth and chooses to affect the upper respiratory tract. Why? Because the cooler environment of the nose and/or mouth (due to air going in) is more suitable for the virus to grow in, preferring a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius, not the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the common cold is looked at a little differently. In TCM the common cold is grouped into five syndromes, which are classified by how the virus affects the upper respiratory tract and therefore what symptoms the patient presents with. Today we will discuss two of the five TCM common cold syndromes – Wind Cold and Wind Heat. As I mentioned earlier each syndrome is named based on presenting symptoms. Wind Cold was given that name because its presenting symptoms are “cold” in nature, the patient feels cold, and has clear phlegm opposed to Wind Heat which presents with “heat” symptoms, mild fever, sweats, and yellow phlegm.
1. Wind Cold
Wind Cold is considered the mildest syndrome and is usually the first stage of the common cold before it progresses deeper into the body. Wind Cold is usually the easiest type of cold to treat and if caught early enough by the patient, rest and warm liquids are often enough to overcome the cold without further treatment.
When someone has a Wind Cold the first symptom typically felt is stiffness in the neck and fatigue. Depending on how strong the immune system is or what the patient does as far as rest/remedy, we either see the cold clear up from here or continue to progress with a scratchy throat, coughing, headache and a blocked or running nose with clear phlegm and aversion to cold.
Wind Cold Remedies
If you feel the early symptoms of a Wind Cold coming on:
- Get some rest so that your immune system can marshal more resources to fend off the virus.
- Create a false fever. Have a warm bath or drink warm tea with warm natured herbs like cinnamon. Either of these options will temporarily raise your body temperature creating what is known as a “false fever”. If you remember from earlier in the article, the Rhinovirus likes its host environment to be around 33 degrees Celsius so a false fever will make life harder on the virus.
- Enjoy a little extra garlic and onions in your diet. In TCM foods like onions and garlic are considered warm, pungent and dispersing and are excellent diet remedies to help get rid of Wind Cold.
Wind Heat is the next progression of the virus as it begins to get stronger and continues to tax the body. Symptoms are usually “warmer” in nature with a mild fever, sweats, swollen throat, headache, coughing and production of yellow phlegm.
Wind heat remedies
- Drinking warm teas made from herbs with a cooling nature. Mint tea is always an excellent choice.
- Avoiding dairy, sugary, and greasy foods. These foods can make phlegm thicker which can irritate the throat.
While there is no cure for the common cold there is prevention. Since the virus can be spread via hand to hand contact, washing hands, utensils, children’s toys, light switches, door knobs and anything else that might become contaminated on a regular basis is one way to reduce your risk of getting the cold and flu this season.
Ensure you are getting adequate rest and avoid being caught out in the chilly air without a scarf or a jacket, particularly as the season begins to change.
**This will be my final article as a Castanet columnist so I would like to thank all of my regular readers. If you would like to continue to follow my articles you can do so on my website blog or my facebook
Ryan Samuels, R.TCMP, R.Ac
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.