A Comprehensive Approach to Cold and Flu Relief and Prevention.

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

In Western medicine, colds and flu are caused by viruses that affect the respiratory system. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, fever, headache, and body aches. Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers can provide relief. In severe cases, antiviral medications may be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Chinese medicine views colds and flu as imbalances in the body’s energy, or Qi, that result from external factors such as wind, cold, and dampness. These external factors can invade the body’s defenses and disrupt its internal balance, leading to symptoms such as coughing, congestion, and fever. Chinese medicine practitioners use a variety of techniques to manage these imbalances, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy.

One of the fundamental concepts in Chinese medicine is the Five Elements theory. This theory categorizes everything in the universe, including the human body, into five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element is associated with specific organs, such as the TCM-Lungs, TCM-Spleen, and TCM-Kidneys. Imbalances in these organs can lead to imbalances in the body’s energy and result in colds and flu.

Another key concept in Chinese medicine is channel therapy, which involves stimulating specific points on the body’s energy channels, or meridians, to promote the flow of Qi and blood. Acupuncture is a popular form of channel therapy that can be effective in managing colds and flu symptoms.

Chinese medicine also recognizes the importance of Qi and blood in maintaining good health. Qi is the body’s vital energy, while blood nourishes and moistens the body’s tissues. Cold and flu symptoms are believed to result from Qi and blood stagnation or deficiency. Herbal medicine and dietary therapy can help regulate the body’s Qi and blood and alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

Shan Han Lun and Wen Bing are two classical Chinese medical texts that describe the diagnosis and treatment of colds and flu. The Shan Han Lun, written in the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), categorizes cold and flu symptoms into six stages and recommends herbal formulas to address each stage. The Wen Bing, written in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 CE), categorizes cold and flu symptoms into patterns of external and internal heat or cold and recommends herbal formulas to address each pattern.

In Chinese medicine, cold and flu prevention is just as important as symptom management. Practitioners recommend a variety of strategies to boost the body’s immune system and reduce the likelihood of getting sick. These strategies may include dietary therapy, herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep and exercise.

While Western medicine focuses on managing the symptoms of colds and flu, Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to managing these conditions by addressing the underlying imbalances that lead to symptoms. Both approaches can be complementary and effective in providing relief and preventing illness.


“The Efficacy and Safety of Chinese Herbal Medicine Jianpi Jiedu Recipe for Treating Influenza: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2020.

“Acupuncture and moxibustion for influenza: a systematic review protocol.” BMJ Open, 2019.

“Chinese Herbal Medicine for Treatment of Cough in Adults with No Serious Underlying Disease: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2016.

“The efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine as an adjunctive therapy for COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Phytotherapy Research, 2021.

“The effectiveness and safety of Chinese herbal medicine in treating acute respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2019.