Herbal remedies for cold and flu season

Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 in Acupuncture, Cold and Flu | No Comments

Even though Portland is enjoying a warm, sunny September, I’ve seen a lot of patients with colds over the past 2 weeks. Acupuncture can help keep you healthy through cold and flu season by building your defensive Qi (life force), which is analogous to strengthening your immune system to protect you from viral and bacterial pathogens.  If you do fall sick, acupuncture can reduce the severity of your symptoms, and may help you kick your cold faster.

All and One Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic also has several herbal options to help.  I’ve included some information about a few of the formulas we have in the clinic, but please consult with myself or another certified herbalist and licensed acupuncturist before taking any herbal remedies.

Jade Windscreen/Yu Ping Feng San This is a simple and powerful formula.  Although it only contains three herbs, this formula has helped me stay healthy time after time.  This formula is to be taken BEFORE you get sick; once you are sick, it is not an appropriate remedy.  I use Jade Windscreen when I’ve had a week filled with sick patients or when I’m just feeling worn down. It is a great remedy for people who have struggled with frequent colds or who have high exposure to viruses and bacteria (like parents with young children, school teachers and nurses).

Elderberry Syrup Elderberry has been shown to have anti-viral and antibacterial properties, and has been used as a folk remedy for colds and flus for centuries.  Recent research suggest that elderberry stimulates the immune system by boosting cytokine production, which are small proteins that modulate immune response to pathogens.  All and One Acupuncture sells the delicious Honey Garden 8 oz Elderberry syrup; and we offer it at a price $5-8 lower than other local food stores.

Yin Qiao/Yin Chiao This is a common Chinese herbal formula for an active cold or flu infection that includes fever, hot swollen sore throat, headache with nasal congestion with yellow mucous, and cough. It contains some herbs with potential antiviral properties. It is not appropriate for an infection with symptoms such as itchy throat, severe chills, lack of fever, or white/clear mucous.

Loquat and Fritillary Throat Lozenges These sweet almond-flavored throat drops have herbs to soothe sore throats and help treat cough.  Loquat is used to relieve toxins, reduce swellings, unblock the lungs, and resolve phlegm. Chinese fritillaria assists the lungs by loosening stubborn, thick sticky chest phlegm, and also treats soothes the throat.  These come in inexpensive boxes of 12 drops, and they are one of my must-haves when dealing with a chest cold.

Bi Yan Pian, aka “Unblock the nose” This formula is used for nasal inflammation characterized by a stuffy nose with yellow, thick, purulent phlegm. Bi Yan Pian will also help relieve a frontal headache due to sinus pressure.

Chuan Xin Lian This simple formula strongly treats a severely toxic, swollen throat. I’ve heard many claim that the herbs in this formula have very strong antibacterial properties, although I wasn’t able to find research to back that up.  Clinically, I have found this formula to work like a gentle antibiotic treatment.  Just like many antibiotics, this formula should be taken for a 7 to 14 day course, and Chuan Xin Lian can cause digestive issues.

Again, always consult with a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist before taking herbal supplements.  An inappropriate formula can exacerbate symptoms. Also, herbs can adversely interact with prescription and over the counter medications; a decent certified herbalist should always review your medications and past drug reactions to ensure your herbal formula is safe for you. Furthermore, some herbal companies produce formulations that may contain adulterants or lower quality herbs. Again, your herbalist should be knowledgeable about the quality standards and safety of the herbal products they sell or recommend.

Boynn McIntire is a Portland acupuncturist and certified herbalist.  Want to learn more?  Call her at 503-281-6909 to schedule a free consultation.

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