Note please consult your local Chinese medicine acupuncturist or herbalist. This advice is here to help but should not be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.


Colds, coughs and flu are most common from autumn to winter but can occur all year round.

This article will give you advice on how to all of these depending on how it represents and how deep it is in your body. This will involve teas or even a little cooking. So if you are feeling ill then give this information to someone close by who can do this for you.


Some of the Chinese medicine patterns might combine so I advise you to choose more than one if necessary. The only exception to rule is if the pathogen is deeper into your body then follow advice to tonify but not the expel the pathogen through sweating. If you are booked in for an appointment with your acupuncturist do not cancel. Your acupuncturist will treat the pathogen first as this must be expelled first before treating any condition. An exterior pathogen invading the body is seen like a thief. While treating everything else the pathogen able to linger or go deeper into the body.


With each of descriptions the pathogen is deeper into the body or the quality is different so the advice will differ.


Lung Qi deficiency


This might be considered a general deficiency so if the list of symptoms are common and you frequently get coughs, colds and flu then this section is worth taking into consideration when reading other Chinese medicine patterns in this article.

This be used by a lack of exercise, sitting over a desk, excessive used of voice (e.g teaching) or long term recurring illness like coughs, cold and flu.


  • Signs and symptoms

  • Shortness of breath

  • Slight cough

  • Weak voice

  • Spontaneous daytime sweating

  • Often catches colds

  • Tired

  • Dislike of cold weather


Dietary advice

Ginger, garlic, thyme, oats, rice, cauliflower, carrots, olives, onions, peaches and grape. Drink ginger tea daily and drink more in autumn and winter.


Invasion of wind 


This is an outside pathogen entering the body. As you see the subtle changes with each of these the pathogen is deeper into body. For each pattern it only three of the listed symptoms could indicate the right diagnosis. The pattern do combine symptoms for colds, coughs and flu. So be aware of this. To can the correct diagnosis book an appointment with your local acupuncturist or herbalist.

Coughs, cold and flu



Lung wind cold


The invasion of wind cold the pours are closed to stop the pathogen from penetrating into the body this is why there is sweating.



10g spring onions, 3g ginger and brown sugar for taste. Boil in water for 10 minutes. Drink when it is still hot. Wrapped yourself in a blanket to induce sweating.

Avoid cold or cooling foods. Eat walnuts and honey. Drink aniseed tea.


Lung wind heat


The pathogen in now in wei (defensive) Qi level. This between the skin and muscle. The wei level is warming and the body is fighting the pathogen but sweating the pathogen out through the pours.




Drink mint and licorice tea (steep for 10 minutes).

Avoid warm and hot foods. Eat radishes, pears and root ginger.


Damp-phlegm in the lungs


The pathogen is deeper in the body and storing damp and phlegm is the lungs. Chinese medicine refer to the spleen metabolising fluids and the lungs store them. If fluids are heated too much in the process then dampness or phlegm is formed. One place to stores them is the respiratory system (especially if the body has a cold, cough or the flu). This stage is too deep to expel the pathogen through sweat. Damp is the head, lungs and digestive system. This might feel like sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath and bloating in digestive system making it uncomfortable to lie down. The most successful method is to strengthen the body through tonification and to transform the damp-phlegm so it can clear the body.




1 pear and 2cm of ginger (sliced or grated). Boil for 15 minutes. Drink water when it is still hot. Add honey water after boiling. If your throat is affected then add star anise.


If you are also feeling nauseous and are uncomfortable lying down then try 3-6g tangerine peel and 4.5g green tea steeped for 20 minutes.


Avoid raw, cold and cool foods, dairy, meat, fatty and excess sugar. Eat lemons, pears, apricots, fennel, radish, carrots, cauliflower, ginger, star anise, watercress, onions, olives, garlic and thyme.


Phlegm heat obstructing the lungs


This is similar to damp-phlegm in the lungs but the damp has developed into just phlegm because more heat has congealed more of the fluids. The phlegm has stagnated causing irritability, wheezing and the heat is stirring yang resulting in insomnia and thirst. The best way to help alleviate the symptoms is transform phlegm and clear heat.




1 pear and 2cm of ginger (sliced or grated). Boil for 15 minutes. Drink water when it is still hot. Add honey water after boiling. If your throat is affected then add star anise. If you have a muzzy head then add a cardamom pod. Drink after every meal


Dryness and heat obstructing the lungs


This is the next development on from phlegm heat obstructing the lungs. The heat has developed into heat and dryness. All signs and symptoms are signs of heat (dry cough, skin, throat and mouth), thirst and loss of voice with very little or no nasal mucus.



Drink more water, eat pears and follow the dietary advice for Lung Qi deficiency.


What to expect at your local acupuncture clinic


There are many methods of expelling a pathogen from the body. If the pathogen is still close to the surface then your acupuncturist might either use cupping or Gua Sha combined with acupuncture points to release the pathogen from the exterior. If the pathogen is deeper in the body the tonifing with moxibustion and acupuncture is often applied. If there is heat then needles in specific points can expel heat from the body. If you do have an appointment then do not feel you have to cancel your acupuncturist will be able to help.