Fall is here. The leaves are starting to turn magnificent shades, the mist is settling, and the days are getting shorter. It’s harvest time, a time of gathering the abundance of summer, and a time of establishing routines. For some this means back to school, for some this is enjoying the space that back to school brings, and for many back to school means cold and flu season.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) excels at treating and preventing illness due to the seasonal shift. If you are someone who catches every cold that goes around, or someone who works in close contact with the public, then it may be time to consider a seasonal “tune-up” or immune enhancing treatment as a preventative measure to head into the season with an immune system in top form. If you have already caught your cold, earlier treatment could offset secondary infections that could occur if left untreated.
Common colds (Gan Mao) are generally caused by externally contracted pathogenic factors, or a weakness of Defensive (Wei) Qi (poor immunity) that easily allows pathogens to enter. When we say externally contracted pathogenic factors, we refer to: Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat, Wind-Dampness, Wind-Dryness, or various combinations of these. The “Wind” pathogen in TCM often carries other pathogens into the body, such as cold, heat, dampness, or dryness.
Wind-Cold invades the surface of the body and it becomes obstructed by the external invasion, leading to symptoms of chills and slight fever, no sweat, body aches, cough, sneezing, runny nose with clear or white discharge, stiff neck or occipital headache, a tongue that is normal coloured with a thin white coat, and a floating and tight pulse.
Wind-Heat invasion common cold presents with fever, sweat, thirst, sore throat, a cough with yellow phlegm, dark urination, headache, possible skin eruptions, a tongue that is slightly red with a thin white to thin yellow coat, and a pulse that is floating and rapid.
Wind-Dryness is usually contracted only during the autumn season, there is mild chills, mild aversion to heat, dry cough, dry nose, dry throat, dry mouth and lips, and sometimes a trace of blood in only a small amount of sputum. If there are severe body aches and a feeling of heaviness, perhaps with nausea, vomiting, and epigastric or chest oppression, a Dampness pathogen is also involved.
Defensive (Wei) Qi Deficiency is related to a failure of the body to produce a strong enough immune response to effectively ward off pathogens, leading to frequent colds.
These deficiency colds may contain either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat pathogens, but it is the deficiency that is the root of the problem, leading to a different treatment plan. These patients most often contract Wind-Cold, but have more fatigue than the other patterns. This is more common in the elderly or immune compromised patients. By using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat the common cold, individuals are specifically treated according to their individual symptoms. Treatment will often involve the use of acupuncture, cupping therapy (gained media attention at this summer’s Olympic Games by the circular marks on US swimmer, Michael Phelps), and Chinese herbal medicine if required. Colds or flus can be treated and benefited at any stage in their progression, but results are more favourable when symptoms are caught in their initial stages.
Wishing you health and wellness all season long.
Dove Sprout (R.TCM.P) and her husband, Paul Gaucher (R.TCM.P) co-own Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health. They work at the Full Circle Health Centre, which also offers Physiotherapy, Chiropractic , and Counselling services. For more information or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-402-2044. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, you can e-mail Dove at firstname.lastname@example.org.