TCM and cold/Flu

TCM and cold/Flu

It seems the long and cold winter has almost ended, my frozen brain has to follow the nature and start to wake and work more.

Last year, before the flu season, I really want to wrote this topic to give people my experience and knowledge to treat  cold and flu in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) way.  Especially this long winter, I used all these methods, including Chinese formula, herbs, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, successfully helped my patients, myself, and my family members. I’m so proud of that.

Let’s started 1999. In that year, severe cold and flu in Massachusetts, even Boston Globe had article reported it. At the time, I was an acupuncturist working in North End health center and MGH. I never forgot myself got the flu from the patient, in my memory, this was the first time I had bad flu, high fever, body ache, constant cough, day and night, a lot of phlegm, all suffer had to described. I prescribed herb medicine for myself, even night, I got up to drink the bad taste of the herb decoction. And my friend colleague gave me the acupuncture treatment, the acupuncture is like the last push for my flu. In three days, I’m totally recovered, even no lingering cough. At that year, I treated other patients used the same way. That was first time, I realized that flu can make such terrible suffering. I recall some expert said: most terrible epidemic disease isn’t AIDS. It is like flu or bird flu in 2009, and SARS in 2003 in China.

In the April of 2009, I had chance went to China follow the famous TCM doctor, Prof. Wang to study in a teaching clinic in Beijing. When flight arrived Shanghai, all passengers has to stay in flight, waiting for customer to check everyone’s body temperature. We stayed in flight for two more hours to finish the checking. I remember some flight attendant yelling aloud” This is ridiculous, but inside, I convinced myself this is understandable, especially experienced 2003 SARS.

In Beijing, I started clinical observation: busy schedule, pollution, bad traffic and a lot of patients. But this is a very valuable opportunity, I learned a lot, more opened my mind and eye. Suddenly, I realized before western medicine went to China at most about 300 years,  but before that, thousands of years, this large population, generation by generation, just depend on TCM, it not only treated the chronic, mild problem, but also treated all area disorder, including epidemic disease, cardiac problem, stroke, woman’s problem, even emergency, etc. Most impressed me, in Prof. Wang’s clinic, people with the severe chronic problem, like the kidney failure for almost 20 years, they just live with the disease, no need of dialysis (In China, not so many people can afford the dialysis, in US, I heard federal  funding pay for that, it’s huge money for medical sources.)

Definitely, a lot of treasure in the TCM, I hope someday, TCM can play more powerful and important role in the medical system in the US.

Back to the topic of how to use the TCM to treat the cold and flu, cold and flu are ancient disease of the history. More than 90% of the flu caused by the virus, flu virus is No.1, infection time came from 2 hours to 3 days. How to prevent and treat the cold/ flu are big topics. It is hard to cover everything in one blog, but I would like to introduce some basic knowledge, methods, formula to people, who is interested in this topic.

The cold/flu are common disease, but how to make patients get back quick, and no secondary complication, like lingering cough and pneumonia, the key of the successful treatment is to get control as early as possible, don’t let it go deep. In TCM point of view, practitioner has to know patient basic constitution, such as excess, deficiency, heat or cold, etc, and give them accurate differentiation depend on symptom and signs, then choose right herb, formula, and treatment method. This part is the professionals work, for most of people, I would like to offer the recipe in my clinic I recommend to my patient. It works for majority. I’d like to emphasis from my experience, any cold and flu started with catching the cold,  immunity system decline. At the early time, it is best chance to treat it with herbs and medical diet. It may make a little bit sweat and most of case, cold will “disperse”, not go to deeper to bronchus and lung.


Ming’s Cold/Flue Recipe

Do the following immediately upon feeling the symptoms of cold or flu.

  1. Make a tea using the following ingredients:

3/8” Perilla Leaves

3 large slices of ginger (cut lengthwise)

3 or 4 scallions, cut off from the green part, including the root. Place the entire part of the scallion from the root up in the pan.


Mix the ingredients in a pan. Cover with cold water. Boil for short time, no more than 5 minutes. Pour liquid through sifter and drink as a tea. You may use the ingredients two times.


  1. Take 8-10 Cold and flu tablets or power form twice or three times a day, depending on the severity.


  1. Often used formula:

Yin Qiao San (used for thirsty sore throat)

FANG FENG TONG SHENG SAN (for constipation company with running nose, congestion, aversion to cold)

Phragmites communis  rhizome (Lu Gen), Isatis indigotica root (Ban Lan Gen)

If in one or two days, symptoms get worse, especially body ache, or high fever, call  your doctor.

Be health, good luck.



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