The weather is turning cold, and the days are shorter. Like spring, autumn is a transition season, which makes us particularly susceptible to colds and flu. Stay healthy this holiday season by learning some simple ways to treat the common cold. In Chinese Medicine, the common cold comes in two flavors: Wind-Cold type, and Wind-Heat type. Beware! Each has its own characteristics, and those characteristics determine your treatment strategy.
Wind-Cold Type – The symptoms are: chills, fever, no sweating, headache, body aches, stiff neck, and clear nasal discharge. In this type, the Chinese say that cold has “invaded” the body. Indeed, you probably feel cold to your core, and you may feel weak, like all your energy has been drained.
Wind-Heat Type – The symptoms are: high fever, some chills, sore throat, yellow nasal discharge, headache, cough, and body aches. In this type, you probably feel “stuffed up”, like energy has been blocked and the resistance is creating heat and congestion.
Once you know which Type you have, pay attention to your diet because the foods you eat can either help or make the condition worse.
For the Wind-Cold Type, you want to eat foods that will warm you up and restore normal energy circulation from the center outward. Such foods include: ginger, all the onion clan (garlic, scallions, leeks, as well as onions); cinnamon.
For the Wind-Heat Type, drink more, eat less. Digesting food tends to generate heat in the body, while drinking liquids tends to cool the body. Drink hot tea, especially made with mint, chrysanthemum flower, or cilantro. Apples and pears are good.
For both types of Colds—and whenever you don’t feel well, in fact—try to eat so that you don’t put stress on the digestive system. This means eating only until you are about 60% full (don’t overeat!). Avoid heavy proteins, especially shellfish; cold and raw foods; fats; processed foods, especially refined sugars and starches. Also avoid vinegar, because it closes the pores when what you want is energy moving toxins from the center out of the body.
Instead, make soups and stews, or congee (soupy rice). Sip water through the day. Enjoy bland foods, warm and well cooked. Get plenty of quality sleep, and stay out of cold drafty places. In this way you will give your body a rest, , inside and out, and allow your natural healing abilities to do their job.