Tag: flu

Food Remedies for Colds and Flus

Remember how your parents always bugged you about wearing a hat and sweater in cooler weather? They knew that the possibility of a Wind-Cold invasion could lead to the flu, runny or stuffy noses, body aches and fevers.

We often combat Wind invasions by wearing our hat and sweaters but what happens if that doesn’t work? What if you catch a cold and it progressively worsens?

Chinese Dietary Therapy
Food can help prevent and treat most wind invasions. Wind is considered a pathogenic source which enters at the level of the head and face and if not expelled quickly may move deeper into the throat and chest. There are two types of wind pathogens, Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat. Most colds start off as a Wind-Cold invasion and may progress into wind-heat. We want to protect and nourish the Wei Qi or Defensive qi of the body through diet, herbs and exercise. Our bodies are made of Yin and Yang energies. When these energies are balanced we are healthy. Exterior pathogens can create an imbalance of our qi. The nature of food is also yin or yang. Therefore we can use food medicinally to balance our qi. First let’s examine the signs & symptoms of two common exterior conditions and then we will explore dietary prevention and treatment options.

Grate fresh ginger into soup or boil 3 slices with water & lemon

Compare the following two lists of symptoms. You should have most of the symptoms in one category before applying a dietary change. If you have conflicting symptoms, ask your acupuncturist for clarification. Don’t forget that acupuncture is effective to kick a cold or flu!

Wind-Cold Symptoms: Headache, runny nose with clear discharge, neck and shoulder aches, aversion to cold, a white tongue coating.

Special Dietary Consideration: If you are suffering from a Wind-Cold Invasion it is best to stick with foods whose qi qualities are warming, neutral and hot foods.

Wind-Heat Symptoms:
Sore throat, headache, cough, fever or elevated body temperature, body aches, little or no sweat, runny or stuffy nose with yellow discharge, a red tongue body w/ yellow coating. If the heat is very deep it may cause nausea or vomiting, depressed appetite, abdominal distention, chills and fever, heavy sweating, irritability, strong thirst.

Special Dietary Consideration: If you are suffering from a Wind-Heat Invasion it is best to stick with foods whose qi quality is neutral and cooling (try to avoid too many cold foods because they can damage your qi).

Basic Dietary Considerations for Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat Invasions:
While ill, it is best to eat light, easy to digest foods like soups, veggies, rice and rice noodles. Avoid eating lots of cold foods like salads, cold sandwiches, chilled drinks, ice pops, and soy ice cream. Also avoid foods that may cause Dampness in the body. Dampness is heavy in nature, obstructs Defensive qi and contributes to phlegm production. Therefore, stay away from foods that are damp in nature such as dairy products, fried foods, greasy foods, foods high in fat and alcohol. (Stir fry is usually OK as long you cook with a small amount of oil). Raw foods also contribute to cold and dampness. Salads, fruits and fruit juices should be taken in moderation or are to be completely avoided. Be aware that most chickens and meat contain antibiotics. It is best to eat organic chickens and meats because they are not fed antibiotics. The more antibiotics we consume the faster our body becomes immune to them. Antibiotics are also seen as a cause of dampness and cold in the body and when overused can cause qi imbalances which may manifest as fatigue, a susceptibility to more bacterial infections, yeast infections and more.

Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Cold Invasion:
Generally, I recommended foods to promote perspiration which forces out the wind toxin such as: ginger, scallion, chilies, coriander, cabbage. Avoid vinegar because it contracts the pores.

Teas – In prevention and treatment of a simple Wind-Cold headache try Green tea mixed with Peppermint tea. Fresh Ginger tea with a bit of brown sugar is good when you have the other symptoms as well.

Breakfast Food Example – Hot oats with local, raw honey (or pure maple syrup) and powdered cinnamon. Oats are warm and easy to digest, honey is sweet, nourishes body fluids and cinnamon is warm, pungent and unblocks channels for the upper body aches.

Soups – Miso Soup with Scallions – The fermented miso (soy paste) is sweet, salty and neutral. It strengthens the Stomach qi and detoxifies which will help dispel wind-cold and the scallions are warming and pungent which promotes sweating to relieve the exterior wind-cold invasion.Simply bring 2-3 cups of filtered or spring water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste, let dissolve. Cook for 10 minutes on low flame. Taste. If the flavor is too strong, add some water, vegetable or chicken broth. Chop the scallions and sprinkle about a teaspoon on top of your miso soup in the bowl. Avoid adding seaweed to this recipe, it is cold in nature.

Chicken Soup

  • 3 Leeks thinly slice
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 6-8 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 whole organic, antibiotic free chicken or chicken parts
  • 2 cups rice or rice noodles
  • Veggies for Wind-Cold or Heat as listed below
  • ½-1 teaspoon per serving of freshly grated ginger
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced

Take 3 thin leeks, wash. Thinly slice the whites. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil to the bottom of a stock pot and turn flame on medium. When oil is warm, stir in leeks until they are lightly covered with oil. Lower flame and cover the pot to let leeks “sweat” for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add in the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add 6-8 cups of water to the leeks. Add one washed organic chicken or 1 pound of organic chicken parts with bones. Place in stock pot. Cover with water. Boil for one hour. Cook 2 cups of unpolished white rice (20 minutes) or jasmine rice (10 minutes). Prepare freshly grated ginger, about 1 tablespoon. Turn down heat to let the water and fat settle. Scoop out or strain fat. Remove chicken from stock. You may prepare and add any of these warming veggies: squash, green bean, sweet potato, kale. Add veggies to a simmering stock for 10-15 minutes (or longer if using sweet potatoes). While the veggies are cooking, chop the chicken into spoon size pieces and add to the stock. After all the chicken is back in the stockpot, turn off the flame. Place rice and a ½ -1 teaspoon of grated ginger and desired amount of rice into a bowl and ladle soup over it. You can add a cinnamon stick or a touch of grated cinnamon to each bowl as well. To induce more sweating or clear the sinuses you can add some hot chili sauce to your soup. This soup does take time to make. You may want to make those soup and freeze a few containers of it so that when you are ill and fatigued you can simply warm it up and eat it.

Garlic, cinnamon, ginger and raw, local honey all have antibiotic and anti-viral effects.

Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Heat: Generally avoid pungent tasting foods and foods that have a very warm or hot nature such as scallions, chilies, wine and keep your intake light. Ginger can also be used in this case but avoid dried ginger because it is too hot and may aggravate this condition. It is great to help stop cough and nausea but do not overuse because it is warming. If you have a Wind-Heat Invasion you should also see your practitioner of Oriental Medicine for herbs and other treatments.

Teas – Peppermint and/or Chrysanthemum tea with local, raw honey. These herbs dispel heat and the honey nourishes Yin body fluids that may become damaged by heat. Peppermint is also used for sinus congestion.

Breakfast Food Example – Warm tea and Amaranth flakes cereal with unsweetened almond milk. You may add almonds, walnuts and or honey to help stop coughing.

Soup – We are going to use the same basic chicken soup recipe as above except you will not use cinnamon or chiles, or those vegetables. Instead you can use cooling veggies: bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn, mushroom, spinach, swiss chard, turnip, zucchini, bamboo shoots, button mushroom, carrot, dandelion greens, potato.

Cinnamon – The Tasty & Versatile Healing Herb

My first experience with the medicinal use of cinnamon occurred when I was about twenty-one years old, living and working in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The small, family owned Evelyn’s Middle Eastern restaurant was one of my favorite spots for lunch. One wintry afternoon I visited the restaurant in search of some hot soup to help ease the flu symptoms that overcame me that cold, blustery morning. The oldest brother of the Iranian family greeted me with his usual warm smile and asked, “How are you today, Juliette?”

“Oh I amb nod feeling so well,” I answered through my congested nose and scratchy throat, tissue held in my gesturing hand. “I breally need sumb ub your dad’s famous chicken soup to help my flu go away.”

He promptly sat me at a warm table far from the door. Within minutes a steaming bowl of chicken rice soup, which my stuffy head could only imagine smelled delicious, appeared before my watery eyes. As I gazed into the wide bowl I noticed an ingredient I had never seen before in Dad’s famous chicken rice soup, a cinnamon stick. I asked the waitress/owner Evelyn, why there was a cinnamon stick in the soup. She told me, “It will help cure your flu.”

“Oh.” I replied with a smile. As I sipped the soup its cinnamon brought warmth and relaxation to my deeply aching muscles. The added spice opened my sinuses, my senses and my curious mind about other cultural herb remedies.

Fast forward about five years
, I am twenty-six years old and suffering from another bought of the flu while living in the cold, damp winter climate of Seattle. On my regular weekly visit to the local acupuncture school’s clinic, the student intern, Julie, told me she could give me an herb tea to cure my flu. Having taken many of her Chinese herbal decoctions for other health complaints, many of which tasted gross but helped me tremendously, I said, “I’ll take it!”According to The Chinese Herbal Materia Medica, clinical research shows cinnamon to have an antibiotic effect against Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhi. Cinnamon is also used for digestive disorders and recent studies show its effectiveness in regulating blood glucose levels in Type II, non-insulin dependent diabetics.1

I was delighted to taste this tea because it tasted like cinnamon, and I felt significantly better after the first couple of doses. Within two days I felt 90% better and cured by the third day. When I went back the next week I asked the intern, “What herbs were in that tea? It tasted so good.” She said, “Oh, I only know the names in Chinese but one of them was cinnamon”.

I nodded, “I thought so. I really liked it and it worked very quickly!” Soon thereafter, I was suffering from menstrual cramps which had

Chinese herbs are an effective treatment for PMS, cramps, heavy menses, missed periods and other gynecological complaints

been medicated with the birth control pill for about eight years. But recently, The Pill stopped alleviating my cramps and my previous relationship ended so I wanted to stop the medicine. Nervous that I would go back to suffering the debilitating cramps I had before starting The Pill, I asked Julie if she could help. She gave me another decoction, also containing cinnamon. Much to my amazement, the tea was effective enough for me to bear the cramps. I began a regimen of taking the tea each month for one week before my expected period and by about the sixth month cramps rarely afflicted me. Eventually, I didn’t even have to take the tea anymore. By this point I loved cinnamon, I had become a Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young, where are you?).

The next year I enrolled in school to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, where I studied Chinese herbal medicine. I learned the ingredients of the Chinese herbal decoctions that Julie gave me in Seattle and discovered many other medicinal uses for cinnamon. Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, Eastern and Latin cultures use cinnamon, especially in the winter season recipes, to warm us up. For example, Chicken Rice soup with cinnamon is common to both Middle Eastern and Eastern cooking and the use of cinnamon in stews such as pollo or carne guisada is customary in Latin cultures. Of course other warming spices, such as nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and curry, are also used all over the globe often in combination with cinnamon.

Looking for ways to incorporate Cinnamon into your diet?
Sprinkle it into hot oatmeal, onto baked apples or pears, brew it with coffee or place a cinnamon stick into a mug of hot apple cider.

Chinese medicine uses cinnamon for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the flu to menstrual cramps. We use the twig portion of the herb as well as the bark, for different ailments.

Cinnamon twig, Gui Zhi. Chinese materia medica classifies the properties of cinnamon twig as acrid, sweet, warm. Acrid and sweet it disperses the qi, and its sweet flavor benefits the flesh/muscle layer. Acrid and warm, it is often used for externally-contracted cold.

Chinese Medicine uses Cinnamon Twig To

  1. Nourish and protect qi levels in energy deficient patients suffering from externally contracted cold when sweating occurs but the patient’s condition does not improve.
  2. Warm the Channels and Dispurse cold in cases where wind-cold-damp causes painful stagnation in the joints, limbs and especially the shoulder. And for menstrual problems and/or fibroids caused by cold in the blood and lower abdomen.
  3. Unblocks the Yang (moving, warming energy) for edema swelling due to cold phlegm or weakened qi movement. Studies show it has a diuretic effect (Bensky p. 30).
  4. Warm Yang qi in the chest due to stagnation or deficiency.

Chinese Medicine uses cinnamon bark, rou gui because it warms the interior and expels cold. Rou gui/cinnamon bark is acrid, sweet and hot. Rou gui warms the Kidney energy and strengthens Yang qi. It can aid in cases where a person has an aversion to cold, cold limbs, frequent urination, weak back, impotence, abdominal pain and cold, reduced appetite, diarrhea and wheezing. It is used when a person has heat symptoms in the upper body (sore throat, dry mouth, etc.) and cold in the lower body (diarrhea, low back pain, etc). And it is used as a blood tonic for patients with Qi and Blood vacuity.

Call Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs in NYC for an appointment: 646-504-2251 Not in NYC? Schedule a Skype Wellness Consultation: 646-504-2251

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1 Milot, B. (2004). Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipid Levels in Type 2 Diabetes. HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council, 64, 23.