Dos and Don’ts When Catching a Cold or Flu

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The incidence of colds and flu increases during autumn. Wu Kuo-Pin, Superintendent of Xinyitang Chinese Medical Clinic, Taiwan, pointed out that during a cold, it is necessary to maintain the yang energy of the body (positive force in our body) in order to recover quickly. However, many patients have taken inappropriate measures when catching a cold or flu, which has caused the body’s yang energy to drop rapidly, which is not helpful for curing a cold.

Timing for Taking Ginger Tea

One time, a friend of Dr. Wu caught a cold, and he heard that drinking ginger tea could dispel the cold from the body, so he brewed a pot of ginger tea and drank it. However, at that time, he already had symptoms, including a sore throat, indicating that the pathogenic wind and cold had deeply entered the body and started to become inflamed and turned into pathogenic heat. Drinking ginger tea at that moment was the wrong approach, which made the symptoms worsen.

Drinking ginger tea should be in the early stage of a cold; it can increase the body’s heat, dispel the pathogenic cold, and relieve symptoms such as chills. However, when the cold has developed, when the throat is sore, and one starts coughing, it is not suitable to drink ginger tea.

According to a review from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, there is also evidence that ginger can prevent colds, prevent or soothe a sore throat, reduce congestion and reduce inflammation. 

Avoid Raw and Cold Fruits and Vegetables

According to the US National Library of Medicine, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be found in fruits and vegetables, and taking vitamin C daily can prevent colds. However, vitamin C only slightly shortens the time once the illness has developed It will not have much effect if you already have cold symptoms. 

It is common to hear that we can drink lemon tea rich in vitamin C during the flu. Dr. Wu says that lemon is an acidic food and has astringent effects. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), to treat influenza is necessary to dissipate the qi of the disease.

Dr. Wu also pointed out that an American friend’s girlfriend had flu symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, and diarrhea due to COVID-19 and felt weak. Westerners believe eating more fruits and vegetables is good for curing the flu, so she ate a lot of vegetables and fruits, but her health condition did not improve. Later, Dr. Wu suggested that she eat more rice porridge and wear more clothes, and her body recovered quickly.

In accordance with Zhang Zhongjing (A.D.150-A.D.219), a famous doctor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, patients should avoid cold, spicy, and indigestible food during the flu.

A centenarian old TCM practitioner once told Dr. Wu that eating fruit during a cold would cause a persistent cough. Once Dr. Wu had a cold and fever, he did a personal experience and ate a little fruit. As a result, his body cooled down, and his yang energy dissipated quickly.

Dr. Wu said that in the eastern concept of health preservation, during a cold, the gastrointestinal function is not good, it is easy to get flatulence, and there is no way to consume a lot of nutrients. After cold water and food enter the stomach, the stomach has to consume yang energy to heat the cold food before it can be digested, which increases the burden on the stomach and is not good for the recovery of the body.

Dr. Wu also provided a method to increase yang energy for patients with a cold: Keep yourselves warm. Dr. Wu said that the patient should put on more clothes to make the body warm, retain yang energy in the body and naturally replenish it, thereby speeding up the recovery of the body.

Research from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Vienna, Austria, concluded that regular saunas probably reduce the incidence of common colds. This is similar to the concept of keeping ourselves warm.

TCM believes that if “Positive qi remains within, and evil cannot survive,” when there is sufficient healthy qi inside the body, pathogens have no way to invade the body. “Simply put, our Chinese medicine talks about yin and yang. The yang qi is like the sun, which gives our body a certain amount of energy and a certain defense ability,” Dr. Wu said.

Lisa Lin


Lisa Lin is a reporter based in Windsor, Ontario.

Nathan Amery


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