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How to Fight a Cold with Chinese Medicine

WTHN Team/21.01.21

Chinese herbs

During the long, cold winter months, it’s hard to avoid catching a cold or flu. It happens to everyone.  And what you want to do is kick those nasty cold symptoms to the curb and feel better as fast as possible. However, we all know what usually happens. We push on through the early symptoms — working hard, and going about our daily activities hoping if we ignore it, it will disappear. Ultimately we’re prolonging our own illness and miserable for several weeks — if not longer in doing so. 


The good news is that Chinese herbs are a powerful, time-tested remedy to help you fast forward to feeling better. Unlike Western remedies that only provide relief for some symptoms throughout the natural duration of a cold, Chinese herbs have naturally anti-viral properties to not only reduce the severity of symptoms but also shorten the duration of a cold, and even keep it from developing into a full-blown condition.


 The theory behind catching a cold in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that our body’s natural defenses (known as Wei Qi), are not strong enough to combat external pathogens including wind, heat and cold. This invasion is known as External Wind and causes cold and flu. 


There are two different types of cold in TCM: Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat. 

  • Wind-Cold is characterized by chills, stiffness (especially in your neck), headache, sneezing and possibly cold feet. This typically is the first stage of a cold and can last a couple hours or a few days.
  • A Wind-Heat cold is notably characterized by a sore throat, feeling warm and aversion to warmth at the onset of the cold. This is the more common type of cold. 


For a Wind-Heat cold specifically, one of the most powerful and famous Chinese herbal formulas is Yin Chiao. It is named after two hero ingredients JinYin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower) and Lian Qiao (Forsythia Fruit). 


Yin Chiao works best when taken immediately and aggressively at the first sign of a Wind-Heat cold, i.e., that slight tickle or sore throat.  It can turn a cold around before it takes hold, eliminating sick days altogether. However if the cold does progress, Yin Chiao will mitigate the cold and its associated symptoms. 


Yin Chiao contains herbs with naturally occurring anti-viral properties that directly combat the invading virus. Because it is a blend, it also contains herbs that address multiple cold symptoms at once including sore throat, cough, congestion, and body aches. 


If you’re looking for a 1-2 punch, acupuncture plus herbs together can stop a cold in its tracks. If the cold has already set in too deeply, acupuncture can help a cold run its course in less time by bolstering the body’s immune response and relieving symptoms like aches and chills. 


WTHN’s herbal cold fighter Fast Forward is based on Yin Chiao, and is the first and only organic version of this potent formula. Modern science is validating the traditional use of key ingredients in Fast Forward. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key ingredients and what studies saying about how the herbs are working:

  • Honeysuckle Flower has antibacterial and anti-viral properties
  • Forsythia Fruit has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-viral properties
  • Isatis Root has anti-viral properties, it is also traditionally used to relieve a sore throat
  • Platycodon Root scientifically shown to be an expectorant, decongesting the sinuses and lungs 
  • Angelica Dahurica a natural anti-inflammatory that alleviates body aches 
  • Flos Magnoliae clears and reduces inflammation in the sinuses. 
  • Codonopsis root traditionally used to support the body to help fight the pathogen and fatigue
  • Siler Root traditionally used to support the immune system. 
  • Sichuan Lovage Root reduces inflammation to soothe body aches
  • Dried Tangerine Peel traditionally used to reduce phlegm 
  • Licorice root traditionally used to help circulate the herb blend throughout the body
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