Chinese Medicine for Cold and Flu Prevention

I’ve been getting questions about flu vaccines and Chinese herbs for flu.

The decision to vaccinate is a personal one. One must weigh the risks of side effects from the vaccine against the risk of contracting the flu. For those who are weak, frail or immune deficient there is a stronger argument to vaccinate. Those who are healthy and could mount a strong defense against the flu might want to forgo the vaccine and the risk of side effects incurred.

Chinese medicine can support you in 2 ways:

  1. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can strengthen your overall health and immune function, better preparing you to ward off an attack.
  2. Chinese medicine can treat the flu symptoms should you contract it. Patients are generally pleased, even amazed by the results of acupuncture and herbs in treating colds, flu and other respiratory conditions.

I have a few formulas that have been advised in Beijing for use in treating H1N1. All are to be taken upon suspected contact. One is a gargle for sore throat that could be used for any sore throat. The others are specific for the most venerable patient populations: children, seniors and pregnant women. These formulas could be used prophylactically for any suspected contact with cold or flu. They are only to be used for 4 or 5 days as a preventative upon contact.

One frequently used preventative formula for any cold, flu or respiratory illness, including allergies is called Jade Windscreen. It is comprised of 3 herbs (astragalus is one) that are considered a precious (hence the word ‘jade’) formula to boost immune function and ward off viruses, bacterias and irritants brought in from the external environment (wind-screen). It is often begun in August or early September, 6-10 weeks before the flu or allergy season, and continued through the winter for those who frequently contract colds, flu and allergies or sinusitis. Generally the herbalist will add other herbs to build a constitutional formula suitable for the individual patient being treated.

Periodic acupuncture treatments strengthen the immune system and alleviate stress, which depletes immune function. Making sure you eat well, get adequate rest, don’t overwork, exercise regularly and engage in stress reduction activities will keep your body and immune system healthy and strong.

When disease symptoms occur, acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can effectively treat the symptoms and strengthen the bodies ability to mount an defense against the attack. KB