It's Cold and Flu Season!
Yes, dear readers... it is that time of the year again. That
time when colds, flu's and sinus congestion abound.
Remember how your parents always bugged you about wearing a hat
and sweater in cooler weather? They knew that - perhaps in different
words - a "Wind-Cold invasion" could lead to the flu,
runny or stuffy noses, body aches and fevers. We try to prevent
Wind invasions with our hats and sweaters... but what happens
if that fails? What if you catch a cold and steadily get worse?
Oriental Dietary Therapy for Colds and Flus
Oriental Dietary Therapy can help prevent and treat most wind
invasions. Please note that when we talk about dietary therapies,
I will be talking about the qi, nature, or properties of foods.
When I say hot, warm, cool, or cold, I don't mean just the physical
temperature, but a quality in Chinese Medicine. With this article,
I am making available The List- a list
of foods under their various qualities. You may want to peruse
it to get a sense of these qualities before going on.
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
Most colds begin as a Wind-Cold invasion and may progress
into wind-heat. We want to protect and nourish the Wei (Defensive)
qi of the body through diet, herbs and exercise. Our bodies are
made of Yin and Yang potentials. When they 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 for balance.
(For more about Chinese Medicine concepts of immunity,
read "Colds and
Flu's II: Antibiotics, Herbs, and Oriental Medicine Concepts of
First let's examine the signs & symptoms of two common
exterior conditions and then we will explore dietary prevention
and treatment options.
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, see your Oriental Medical
Healthcare practitioner for clarification or contact
|Headache, runny nose with clear
discharge, neck and shoulder aches, aversion to cold, a white
|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 Considerations
Stick with foods whose qi qualities are warming, neutral
and hot foods.
Click Here for The
Stick with foods whose qi quality is neutral and cooling
(try to avoid too many cold foods because they can damage
Click Here for The
Basic Dietary Considerations for Wind-Cold and
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, obstructs Defensive qi and contributes
to phlegm production. Therefore, stay away from foods that are
damp 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.
- 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.
(For more about antibiotics and superbacteria,
read the first part of "Colds
and Flu's II: Antibiotics, Herbs, and Oriental Medicine Concepts
of Immunity" and the the first part of "Sinus
Infections & Antibiotics")
Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Cold Invasion
Generally, I recommended foods to promote perspiration
which forces out the wind toxin such as:
Avoid vinegar because it contracts the pores.
Teas- 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 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.
1. 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 because it is cold in nature.
2. 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
- Veggies for Wind-Cold or Heat as listed below
- ½-1 teaspoon per serving of freshly grated ginger
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 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.
NOTE: This soup does take time to make. You may want to prepare
and freeze a few containers of it now that when you are ill and
fatigued you can simply warm it up and eat it.
Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Heat
- Generally avoid spicy (pungent) tasting foods and foods
that have a very warm or hot nature such as scallions, chilies,
garlic, wine and keep your intake light.
- Use ginger with care. 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 honey.
These herbs dispel heat and the honey nourishes Yin body fluids
that may become damaged by heat and peppermint is also used for
Breakfast Food Example- Warm tea and Amaranth flakes cereal
with soy milk. You may add almonds, walnuts and or honey to help
Soup- We are going to use the same basic chicken soup
recipe as above except you will not use cinnamon or chiles,
or the warming vegetables. Instead you can use cooling veggies:
bok choy, broccoli, cauliflbower, celery, corn, mushroom, spinach,
swiss chard, turnip, zucchini, bamboo shoots, button mushroom,
carrot, dandelion greens, potato.
Make sure you check out The
List for the foods with the appropriate natures! The list
is extensive but not exhaustive. So, if you can't find your favorite
food on this list please e-mail
me and I will add it to the list. Have fun and until next
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