I treat have treated thousands of patients at my clinic for bacteria and viral infections leading to the common cold and flu.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes the treatment of the common cold, flu, and many types of fevers with herbs and acupuncture. This includes treatments for acute and chronic bronchitis, viral pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and many other related disorders. The TCM treatment protocols have been successful for hundreds of years and are often able to address disorders that antibiotics cannot. In addition, an understanding of TCM dietetics can assist the herbs and acupuncture towards a speedy recovery.
The following simple dietary modifications and precautions can help with a speedy recovery from illness when used with acupuncture and herbs. During a fever it is important avoid overeating, avoid animal products, and it is best not to force feed people who are not hungry. Excess foods and animal products prolong the duration of the fever. One of the oldest Chinese Medicine texts (Nei Jing Su Wen) notes that animal products “trap the heat” thereby preventing the fever from resolving. Instead, Chinese Medicine practitioners focus on “release surface” foods and herbs during a fever. These are foods that help create a minute sweat to assist in the elimination of toxins from the body. These foods include cilantro, mint, green onion, and ginger. Breaking a sweat helps in the recovery process, however, in the case of a high fever with excess sweating, herbal medicine is required to cool the body and reduce sweating to preserve bodily fluids.
Santa Cruz has a wealth of farmer's markets and grocery stores that provide fresh, organic produce. Health food stores in Santa Cruz often carry Kudzu Root. During a high fever with thirst and sweating, a couple of tablespoons of Kudzu can be mixed with cool water to drink. This often helps to lower the fever and eliminate thirst and dehydration. It also settles the stomach. Kudzu is often used in Japanese and Chinese cooking (known as Ge Gen in Chinese) as a thickener. It is a very healthy food source and benefits the stomach. Check the Asian food section of your Santa Cruz markets.
Another Santa Cruz favorite is a seasonal citrus fruit, the Kumquat. This looks like a little orange. Unlike other citrus fruits, only eat the skin. Roll it around in the mouth to loosen the skin from the center and spit out the center. If one eats a few skins, it tends to clear up sinus congestion and dissolve phlegm. Although it is not specifically for fevers, it a a nice preventative medicine and great for stuffy noses and sinusitis. In Santa Cruz, I have only seen organic Kumquats in the New Leaf markets. Kumquats are loaded with a full spectrum of bioflavonoids.
It is best to avoid hot & spicy foods, fried foods, and refined sugars. Bacteria thrive on refined sugar. Refined sugar can worsen a sore throat and add to the toxicity of a febrile disease (fever). Fried foods, milk, and cheese are damp in nature meaning that they contribute to the production of phlegm. This can produce nausea and abdominal distension and/or increased phlegm in the respiratory system and sinuses. To avoid phlegm congestion in the sinuses and chest, it is important to avoid milk, cheese and pizza.
I have mentioned that it is important not to force feed people who are not hungry during a common cold, flu, or febrile disease. However, if the illness persists for more than a day and the patient is not eating, congee is recommended to build strength. Congee is a rice soup that is prepared by cooking 1 cup of rice in 8 cups of water over very low heat for several hours. If the patient's constitution is extremely weak, then the rice water floating above the congee is recommended until the patient can handle the congee. Congee is very easy to digest and can bring strength to the weak. There are many simple ways to add nutrition to the congee. Some congee recipes include adding ginger, sliced carrots or celery to the rice before cooking. These ingredients dissolve into the rice soup and are then easily absorbed by the patient. If a person suffers from a fever but cannot break a sweat to expel the toxins, make sure the congee is served very hot and the person wears some warm clothing when eating it. Try adding cilantro or green onion as a garnish. Hopefully, this will help the person to break a sweat in order to help reduce the fever.
In general, soup is an excellent choice of food when feeling ill. The broth helps to replenish fluids that are burned off due to fever and/or excess sweating. If someone is not sweating during illness, a hot soup can bring about a healthy sweat which assists in the elimination of toxins and may alleviate neck and back pain associated with a common cold or flu.
A favorite Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) soup recipe is called Cong Chi Tang. This is a combination of a specially prepared soybean with green onion. While most people do not have the specially prepared soybean (Dan Dou Chi) in their homes, green onion is often available and a good addition to soup. Other quality choices include fresh ginger, mint, and cilantro. These help to produce a mild sweat in order to help eliminate pathogens from the body. Fresh ginger has the added function of reducing or eliminating nausea. Kudzu root (known as Ge Gen in Chinese) is an excellent soup thickener and can be found in many health food stores and Japanese markets. In TCM, it is known for helping to reduce fever, thirst, and diarrhea during a febrile disease. Ultimately, careful attention to food intake during illness is important to the recovery process. Dietetics combined with acupuncture and herbal medicine provides for an efficient and speedy recovery from the common cold and flu. Santa Cruz has a wide variety of markets to make this process simple and easy.