Here it comes, Autumn dryness and seasonal respiratory issues. For many, when Autumn arrives, allergies and asthma are kicked into high gear. As well as the cold and flu season!
In Chinese medicine, there is no coincidence here that many are suffering with these ailments at this time of the year. Autumn corresponds to the “lungs” and the “large intestine” and they work as a pair in this system of medicine.
At this time of year the days are dry and warm and the evenings turn to cool crisp air which in turn allows for things to dry out. All the plants are dying off and drying and as a result our mucous membranes suffer from this dryness making them more susceptible to colds.
Imbalances of the lungs and large intestine are stressed at this time of the year, thus our “metal element” in Chinese medicine may not be in balance and it is not uncommon to have ailments related with these organs surface.
How Do These Imbalances Manifest?
A weak immune system results in allergies, asthma, cough, shortness of breath, constipation, diarrhea, etc. The role of the lung in Chinese medicine and philosophy is to take in the clear inspiration while the role of the large intestine is to let go of un-needed waste and let go of the turbid.
Six Causes Of Illness In Chinese Philosophy
In addition to using the cycles of the seasons and the elements, Chinese medicine assesses a patient’s condition using six causes of illness which are: cold, wind, heat, summer heat, dampness, and dryness.
The ancient’s say that a cold/flu is an external attack of wind-cold or wind-heat pathogen (a pathogen is something that can produce a disease, like a virus or bacteria).
The wind is thought to carry the pathogen and this pathogen penetrates our first line of defense which is our nose, lungs, and pores of the skin.
Types Of Cold/Flu
This type is associated with a virus like the common cold or a bacterial infection and the common symptoms would be: Fever and chills, where fever may be more predominant; sore throat, perhaps red; burning or red eyes and thirst.
This type is more likely to be a viral attack and the common symptoms would be: Headache, fever and chills where the chills are more predominant, scratchy throat, body aches – upper back or neck.
Tips For Treating The Two Types Of Cold/Flu
Always support your immune system and remember that your first lines of defense, the nose, the lungs, and the pores of the skin are pathways.
Therefore, wash your hands frequently, keep hands away from face, nose, mouth and eyes after touching things, use a sinus rinse or neti pot at this time of the year to keep the mucous membranes in your nose and pharynx moist and clean.
Eat lots of organic green veggies, drink a lot of room temperature water with lemon every day and get plenty of rest.
If you get sick it is important to treat your cold/flu immediately upon feeling symptoms so that your illness does not morph into other acute or chronic symptoms.
Specific Treatments For Wind-Heat Conditions
Eat cooling foods and take herbs that are cooling (seek your practitioner’s help with herbal formulas): Try miso soup with green onion, mint, honeysuckle tea, chrysanthemum tea (especially for red eyes), baked pears, cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple or bromelain capsules (1500mg/3x/day on an empty stomach for inflammation and body aches).
Specific Treatments For Wind-Cold Conditions
Eat warming foods: Stews, soups, nothing raw; miso soup with green onions, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, baked pears with cinnamon.
And, last but not least, for both types of illness a solid chicken soup with veggies is always a great choice.