During the winter season, illness can rear its ugly head and it is not uncommon for people to experience colds and flus. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) regards these illnesses as external invasions/exterior conditions. This means that an external pathogen has begun the process of battling with your body. If you are not in tip-top shape (and sometimes even when you are), a seasonal illness may ensue.
What are some signs of an exterior condition?
- It has a recent, acute onset; short duration
- Simultaneous chills and fever
- Stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat, a thin coating on the tongue
- Achiness, stiff neck, recent headache
- Intolerance to wind or cold
As mentioned, these issues are in the exterior so TCM explains in order to balance the conditions, we should choose herbs and spices that reach toward the periphery and open sweat glands to sweat out the pathogen lodged near the surface. Contrary to what some think, using tonics such as Ginseng or animal products, can actually worsen the condition by driving it deeper into the body.
Utilize the following suggestions upon the onset of symptoms:
- Eat less; use a liquid-based diet of vegetable or grain soup if chills are greater than fever; if fever predominates utilize fresh fruit or vegetable juices
- Use Sweat Therapy: drink 1-2 cups of hot herbal tea (such as ginger or cinnamon) followed by a hot bath or shower, followed by another round of hot tea. Lastly, cover yourself in blankets or layers of clothing to promote sweating. Do not sweat to the point of exhaustion. Change clothes or sheets if damp and continue to rest. You can repeat this process twice daily until symptoms improve.
- Common diaphoretic herbs (cause sweating): ginger, chamomile, peppermint, cayenne pepper, garlic; you can also add lemon and honey to teas
- Integrate Vitamin C
Once you are back to healthy and vibrant, continue to eat well to boost your immunity and prevent future exterior invasions.
*Excerpts of blog taken from Healing with Whole Foods, Third Edition, Paul Pitchford