Author: Rhonda Bilsker Pearl, NCCAOM, LAc, CA
People are often surprised to find out that herbal remedies can actually prevent or shorten the duration of the flu. I get excited when people consider alternatives to the flu shot as they are known to contain ingredients that can be harmful to our bodies and cause bad side effects.
In Chinese medicine, we differentiate the flu from other pathogens by diagnosing the quality and shape of the tongue and of the pulses. We also make the determination if the disease is in the interior or the exterior of the body. In most cases, the flu is determined to be in the exterior. If it was in the interior that means the pathogen has reached the organs. Therefore, it is best for a person to begin treatment immediately upon noticing symptoms in order to prevent an invasion into the interior body (i.e. the organs).
Signs and symptoms of the flu include (but are not limited to):
- Simultaneous fever and chills
- Stuffy head
- Runny nose
- Body aches
- Neck stiffness
A person with the flu could consider Acupuncture treatments. We would use very fine sterile needles and place them in very specific points all over the body. One point, for example, is called Yin Tang. This point is located between the eyebrows and produces an almost immediate calming effect, as well as opens the clogged sinus cavity. It can also help stop headaches. Another technique can be used around the occipital area to move stasis, which is one of the primary causes of headache and neck stiffness.
Herbal remedies can help a great deal when trying to prevent or shorten duration of the flu. It’s important to look for formulas that contain at least one, hopefully more, of these ingredients:
Allium Cepa, the red onion, provides a significant source of Vitamin C and B6 to help prevent and fight colds and flu.
Arsen iod helps to relieve heat symptoms including fever. It also helps with chest and nasal congestion.
Gelsemium helps with headaches and acts as an expectorant. It is also helpful in relieving pain from the throat to the ears.
The combination of natural flu treatments can help with the discomfort caused by the flu, as well as the duration. Please keep in mind the sooner you seek treatment, whether from herbal remedies for the flu or other natural treatments, the faster the relief! I recommend that my patients stock their medicine cabinet with natural cold and flu remedies. But remember, prevention through a healthy lifestyle is always best!