‘Recognise that it’s a seasonal process of cleansing and renewal and manage accordingly’.
What is cold and flu and what’s the difference?
The Celts did not have pharmaceuticals although they did have a sophisticated Herbal pharmacopeia and there is some evidence that they may have had Acupuncture (the Iceman).
In our contemporary society we live very different lives to that of the Celts and require different solutions to our problems.
We are indeed fortunate in that we have vastly more knowledge at our fingertips and we also have the benefit of the knowledge and wisdom of different cultures and knowledge bases. In this context, we have two main views of dis-ease, both rooted in a scientific* approach with a vastly different cultural lineage, methods of treatment and outcomes. These are Western medicine and traditional medicines such as Naturopathy which has its roots in western herbalism (which came from the druidic societies, with Greek and Arabic influences), Ayurvedic medicine from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
From a Western medicine perspective these conditions may be defined in the following terms; (Source: webMD)
The common cold and flu are both contagious viral infections of the respiratory tract. Although the symptoms can be similar, flu is much worse. A cold may drag you down a bit, but the flu can make you shudder at the very thought of getting out of bed.
Congestion, sore throat, and sneezing are common with colds. Both cold and flu bring coughing, headache, and chest discomfort. With the flu, though, you are likely to run a high fever for several days and have body aches, fatigue, and weakness. Symptoms of the flu also tend to come on abruptly. Usually, complications from colds are relatively minor, but a severe case of flu can lead to a life-threatening illness such as pneumonia.
More than 100 types of cold viruses are known, and new strains of flu evolve every few years. Since both diseases are viral, antibiotics cannot conquer cold or flu. Remember: Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
Two antiviral medications are available to treat flu. But there are no medications that specifically defeat the common cold. Antibiotics may be helpful only if there is a secondary bacterial infection.
How are stomach flu and influenza different?
"Stomach flu" is a popular term, but not a true medical diagnosis. It's not uncommon to mistake gastroenteritis, which is what stomach flu is, for the viral infection we commonly call the "flu." Gastroenteritis refers to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines). Viruses are the most common cause of stomach flu. With gastroenteritis, you may have symptoms such as abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Understanding the TCM approach;
In some respects the understanding of TCM to colds and flu is similar to that of Western medicine. For example, both systems agree that colds and flus occur from an external pathogen entering the body. However within a TCM paradigm, the causes may be understood within the context of the individual’s constitution. Fundamentally, there must be some weakness (e.g. immune deficiency) for a pathogen to invade. Anything that weakens one’s resistance (overwork, not sleeping, eating poorly, etc.) can weaken one’s immune system and allow a pathogen to attack and enter, causing dis-ease.
Furthermore, the patient’s constitution (underlying pattern) coupled with the nature of the pathogen that is attacking will determine what symptoms and how the cold and flu will present in that given individual. We all have seen two people get the “same cold” and have completely different symptoms. This occurs precisely because of this interaction. This is fundamental to Chinese medicine’s viewpoint and plays a crucial role not only in treatment but also in prevention of colds and flus.
The differential pattern diagnostic approach of TCM may be explained as follows;
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands that changing seasons bring with them external pathogens that may have unfavourable influences on your body. There are six general groups of external pathogens, namely Wind, Heat, Dampness, Fire, Dryness and Cold.
Depending on the seasonal influence or environmental changes, groups of external pathogens may occur together.
The symptoms of the common cold and flu come as a result of the battle between the Protective Qi (which has a similar concept to immunity) of the body and the external pathogens. When the Protective Qi in your body is weak, you are more vulnerable to pathogen attacks, thus falling ill.
Disharmony Patterns of the Common Cold and Flu
In general, TCM differentiates cold and flu according to the patterns of disharmony, as well as the related root causes. The most common ailment-causing patterns are Wind-Heat, Wind-Cold and Dampness. It is advisable to seek professional consultation from a licensed TCM physician to have your condition accurately diagnosed.
- Wind-Heat Pattern
Cold and flu symptoms caused by Wind and Heat pathogens are more prevalent during spring and summer, and at places with tropical climates. Common symptoms include a high body temperature; a difficulty in sweating; a slight aversion to the wind; a sore throat and turbid nasal discharge with yellowish phlegm.
- Wind-Cold Pattern
The cold and flu caused by Wind and Cold pathogens commonly occur during winter or in a cool or cold environment. Symptoms include a severe aversion to cold; a slight increase in body temperature; no sweating; running nose with clear nasal discharge; chest congestion; sneezing; an itching throat; cough with clear mucus.
- Dampness Pattern
Individuals with the cold and flu caused by Dampness pathogens will constantly feel the presence of Heat in the body but have no significant increase in body temperature. Other symptoms include constant thirst with mild sweating; fatigue; lethargy and occasional chest tightness.
Why is it important to manage health conditions naturally?
There is a long held and valid argument to say that colds and to a lesser extent flu, are nature’s way of cleansing the body of the excesses of the previous season. This helps us prepare for and adapt to the demands of the coming season, be it; deep and cold winter, hot and humid or dry summer, windy autumn or wet spring.
Remember, our bodies are held in and function from genetic patterns that go back for eons. These patterns give us many qualities, not least our ability to survive and procreate but also to remake the world according to our own convenience.
It’s only in recent times (in genetic terms) that we humans have been so successful that we can (on Mass) afford central heating and air conditioning, rich food, automotive transport including rapid transit between continents and time and climate zones, modern medicine etc.
Even with all of these so called advances, our genetic patterns, while amazingly adaptable, still retain the basic responses to seasonal change; they will manifest in spite of how we mess up and confuse that response with our urban, convenient lifestyle.
It’s these responses that require wise managing; allowing a cleansing process to occur while ensuring that secondary, potentially dangerous conditions do not take hold.
Or conversely; recognising when a condition is so out of pattern that it is potentially dangerous and treating it accordingly from the very beginning.
Each person is different and must be treated appropriately.
Your TCM practitioner or similarly trained health professional is best placed to make these distinctions.
TCM Treatment methods follow two paths; prevention and treatment.
1. Fortify your Immune System
TCM believes that when the Protective Qi is at equilibrium, your body’s natural resistance against diseases and healing ability are at their optimum. The rule of thumb is to remove the excess and replenish the deficiency, so as to maintain a balance of Yin and Yang, as well as a healthy body.
Chinese herbs are most effective at reinforcing Qi and fortifying the immune system.
A number of commonly available formulas are effective such as;
Immune support YU PING FENG PIAN TGA 125318, energy support BU ZHONG YI QI PIAN TGA 125319 and detox BEI XIE SHENG SHI PIAN TGA 125315.
(For more information on herbs, ingredients and uses see www.healingartsandsciences.com/shop)
2. Get Adequate Rest
A proper work-rest balance is crucial for your body to recharge and maintain internal harmony. Work and rest according to your body’s meridian clock to help keep your body function at its optimum.
Stress is one of the lifestyle factors that may trigger diseases. Adequate physical exercise, rest, diet, acupuncture or Chinese herbs can all play a part to relieve stress.
4. Proper Diet
Eating too much greasy, sweet, chilled or raw foods will lead to stagnation of Qi. This stagnation will in turn cause diseases, pain or more severe imbalances in your body. Alter your dietary habits to promote healthy digestion.
Include fresh citrus (for acid balance) such as grapefruit and Apple cider vinegar, neutral and warming foods (See Yang Ming Diet at http://www.grahamcarruthers.com/diet.php for information)
5. Exercise, yoga and meditation.
Moderate exercises help smooth the flow of Qi and Blood. A workout such as Tai Chi Chuan generates, accumulates and reinforces Qi in your body. Yoga is beneficial in opening the channels, exercising the bodies’ internal organs and activating the breath. With meditation, an advanced practitioner may transmute and neutralize pathogenic patterns. Novice and intermediate practitioners benefit from reduced stress and clearer energetic channels and chakras.
Progression from vulnerability to pathogenic conditions as determined by the imbalance in the energetic pattern tend to manifest as preconditions which may be defined as 1) acid/alkaline (Ph) imbalance in the organs of the middle belt such as Gall Bladder/Liver/Pancreas/Spleen. This imbalance invariably precedes the manifestation of cold and flu symptoms and may also manifest with nausea. 2) The other common pre-condition may be abdominal digestive discomfort with bloating, nausea and diarrhea. This pre-condition, if untreated may remain as a gastro intestinal issue or in some cases and more often manifests as a chest cold with heavy phlegm
A commonly held concept (with increasing scientific support) amongst Natural Health professionals is that pathogens including those that manifest as cold and flu are held in the gut. Like flora and fauna anywhere, populations increase when conditions are favourable and depending on the pattern of the pathogen (pathogenic patterns may be the subject of another blog), that often means dis-ease.
If by chance you do come down with a cold or flu then treatments vary but may include;
Acupuncture and massage
Acupuncture opens and clears the channels to restore the flow of chi to the organs, clear the nasal passages and lungs and with certain point combinations, enhance immunity by stimulating the production of leukocytes. Early treatment, particularly for the first pre-condition before symptoms manifest will often prevent a cold from developing.
Massage from a properly trained professional may be extremely beneficial in keeping the lymphatic system, kidneys, large and small bowel and Liver/Gall Bladder clear and functional.
(As in any medical or Natural Therapeutic procedure, the type of treatment and the nature and quality of its execution is critical in getting a beneficial result. Poorly executed treatment may be harmful.)
There are various effective TCM herbal formulas suitable for the different types of wind pathogen. Your TCM practitioner will prescribe the most appropriate but a number of better known formulas are; Yin Chiao Jie Du Pian TGA 77453, Gan Mao Ling TGA 95549, Sang Ju Wan TGA 11701, Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan TGA 11684 and for the kids, Paediatric Cold & Flu formula TGA 46238.
(For more information on herbs, ingredients and uses see www.healingartsandsciences.com/shop)
Yoga and Exercise
Very light yoga may be undertaken but only if fever is not present. Exercise is not recommended in the fever or early stage cold. Light exercise and yoga may be undertaken once the body is in secondary recovery mode.
Most important is adequate rest. This will allow the body to direct full energetic resources to the immune system.
The old adage ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’ remains true.
Always take plenty of fluids, acid neutralizing fresh juices (grapefruit), herbal teas and light non fatty foods. Avoid sugar, dairy, salt, coffee and alcohol.
Use a multi-faceted approach, combine with other treatments.
Combine herbs with Vitamins (multi, C, B, D and P) and pro biotics.
Use Clove Bud oil as a preventative to clean mold from walls, furniture and leather clothes and shoes. Use in a vaporizer combined with the above mentioned oils to keep the air clear of mold and pathogens and to lift the vibration rate of your space. (See www.healingessences.net for more information.)
Wikipedia defines it thus; the scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
The term came into common usage in the west around the 17th century.
However the ‘method’, though not described as ‘scientific’ by the various cultures that used its principles, has been around for thousands of years and was a foundation process of the knowledge and philosophical base of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Indian and Chinese culture. For example, Ma Tan Wang who was a minister of health in China during the time of the Taoist emperors (around the 1400 and 1500’s ad) used his staff (thousands of monks) as one would a computer to identify, study, classify and record the herbal and curative ‘medical’ resources available at the time in terms of properties, use and efficacy. This great work was one of the factors that contributed to the extraordinary advancement of the health modalities in China at the time.