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How to Support Your Immune System in the Winter Using TCM Theory & Herbs

Prevent Getting Sick in Winter -- From the ActiveHerb.com Blog

As of this writing, it is November. However, it still does not yet feel like autumn. At least not at ActiveHerb headquarters in San Diego, where early November temperatures have exceeded 80 degrees.

But soon, temperatures will dip into the 40s at night along the coast and hover near freezing in the inland valleys. Late fall and winter might seem still far away. It seems like just a couple weeks ago we were talking about beating the late summer damp heat. But winter is officially just around the corner. Late fall and early winter is the most common time of year for people to come down with a cold or flu.

So let’s take a look at some ways to support immunity in the winter.

Why Colds and Flus Occur

TCM theory and western medicine … the two seemingly drastically different forms of treatment are similar in their viewpoint of what causes the common cold.

Both TCM and western medicine consider colds (and flus) the result of an invading external force, i.e. a pathogen, that enters the body and weakens the immune system. In TCM theory, the so-called Six Evils (Wind, Cold, Heat, Summer Heat, Dry, Damp) describe the different external pathogens that can weaken the immune system. In TCM theory, a combination of Wind and Cold can lead to what western medicine considers a common cold.

Both TCM and western medicine agree that there’s at least one root cause of a weakened immune system. Poor diet, lack of sleep, and exhaustion are some reasons immune function could make one vulnerable to catching a cold.

Difference in cold and flu treatment from a TCM perspective

In western medicine philosophy, once somebody has a cold, there’s really not much to do. Other than the typical advice to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and let the cold run its course.

This is the big difference between TCM’s treatment of colds and allopathic remedies. TCM treatment for colds is individualized. Though two people may have the same wind-cold invasion illness, they may have totally different symptoms. One person may present with sore throat while another has a bad cough. Therefore, a one-solution-for-all is not present in TCM.

Also, TCM treatment philosophy seeks to not only eliminate invading pathogenic evils, but drive it out of the body as quickly as possible. Rather than having to wait 7-10 days or longer for a cold to ‘run its course,’ TCM treatment involves looking at the person’s whole being–not only symptoms.

Patient History Matters in TCM 

A TCM practitioner (acupuncturist, herbalist, Chinese Medicine Doctor), in order to treat the patient, would first assess the individual’s history. If a person frequently catches a cold during late fall or winter, the TCM practitioner would assess any Qi deficiencies, as well as look at lifestyle habits. The TCM practitioner may also take the patient’s pulse and perform a tongue diagnosis to assess for any imbalances.

In addition, the TCM practitioner can recommend herbal formulas, which are based on symptoms and the constitutional type of the individual. TCM herbal formulas are dispensed with the intention of supporting the immune system.

Herbal formulas for immune system support

TCM herbal tonics such as Jade Defender act directly on the immune system to maintain health. Jade Defender, aka Yu Ping Feng San, is a proven formula with many centuries of usage. In clinical trials, the formula has demonstrated the ability to support immune function markers. In addition, it has shown the ability to support lung function.

Feel symptoms developing? If so, take CF Signoff immediately. Always have a bottle with you at home or in the office.

For those that already have persistent symptoms, ColdClear is more appropriate. 

And finally, if you have more severe symptoms such as chills and stiff, achy muscles, try Kudzu Relaxe. It is an ancient Chinese herbal remedy that releases the exterior, induces sweating, and relaxes the muscles. 

Holiday/Christmas parties are common traps for letting loose and drinking more than you would normally imbibe. All it takes is one bout of excessive drinking to temporarily weaken your immune system. Binge drinking may make you vulnerable to a cold-wind invasion. This is especially true when you leave the party and have to walk to your car in bone-chilling cold.

(For more info on our TCM immune-supporting formulas click here.)

Supporting Your Immune System in Winter: Your mother was right!

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would always tell you to bring a jacket? Well, it turns out mom knew a thing or two about TCM without realizing it. Staying warm is essential for repelling cold-wind invasions. You don’t want to be walking around in a t-shirt in the late afternoon when a cold wind kicks up. Because your skin pores are open and you can potentially weaken your immunity. So, listen to mom and bundle up!