Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) theory claims that we tend to ‘catch a cold’ more easily when our protective surface energy or ‘wei qi’, is weak, e.g. when we are stressed or tired, which allows ‘external pathogens’ which are equivalent to a virus or bacteria, to penetrate. Proper treatment of an exterior pathogen is important to prevent it from entering the interior, where it can manifest in a plethora of chronic, lingering symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Certain acupuncture points and herbs strengthen the Wei qi so this does not
happen – true preventative medicine. They are best used when you do not
actually have a cold (and act as a prophylactic.) Several sessions are usually
required – preferably before the onset of winter.
Of course other point and herb combinations are effective when you do have a cold or flu, best when you have just become ill – the sooner you notice symptoms of fatigue, runny nose, headache or sore throat an acupuncture treatment can prevent or lessen the onslaught of aches that may otherwise develop.
The name of one of the most well-known herbal formulas translates as Jade
Wind Screen Powder, illustrating its ability to protect the body from wind. Its biomedical functions are immune stimulant and anhidrotic (stops sweating). One of the four herbs comprising this formula is Astragalus. Studies have shown that it reduces the incidence and shortens the duration of the common cold.
Ideally, already having a healthy lifestyle in place will generally mean that you don’t get sick easily. Therefore when you have a consultation the acupuncturist will advise you on exercise, relaxation and diet. This may include details of how you prepare your food, the timing of your meals and your state of mind when you eat, as well as the actual ingredients. For example when you have a cold it is best to eat warm, easily digested food, not too rich, greasy or sweet; to rest and not do any strenuous activity. Your acupuncturist can ascertain your particular constitution and suggest the foods to restrict or avoid and those to be eaten and enjoyed.