The flu season is on from now till June, one of two peak periods of infection of this highly contagious viral disease which attacks the nose, throat and lungs.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), flu is seen as an invasion of the body by external pathogenic factors, brought about by seasonal changes.
According to physician Lee Jin Shun, from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic@Bedok and Hougang Mall and Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinic@PlazaSingapura, the battle between pathogenic factors and the body's immunity - or qi - results in symptoms like runny nose, cough, dry throat and fever.
The six external pathogenic factors are wind, cold, summer heat, damp, dryness and fire heat.
They arise from changes in the weather, and can occur in combinations.
The two most common ones are the wind-cold flu and the wind-heat flu.
Occurs more frequently during cold weather or in cold environments.
Symptoms include running nose with clear mucus, severe aversion to cold, chills, fever, little or no sweating, cough with clear phlegm.
Treatment methods such as herbal remedies, acupuncture or cupping are usually employed to ease the wind-cold symptoms, as well as home remedies like ginger tea.
Herbs used will usually be warm in nature, such as Folium Perillae and Ramulus Cinnamomi, which aim to induce sweating to dispel the cold and wind pathogenic factors from the body.
Occurs more during the hot and dry seasons.
Symptoms include hot sensations, cough with yellow phlegm, running nose with yellow mucus, sweating, headache, sore throat, thirst, yellow urine, dry and hard stools.
Treatments are aimed at expelling the heat and cooling the body, and drinking chrysanthemum flower tea is recommended. Examples of herbs used include Fructus Forsythiae and Flos Lonicera.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. With a stronger resistance, you will be less susceptible to falling sick.
Tips to strengthen your immune system include:
- Always stay hydrated. A minimum of eight cups, or 1.9 litres, of water is recommended.
- Exercise regularly. Light jogging or swimming three to four times a week can help to ensure good blood circulation and a smooth flow of qi in your body.
- Have at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Adopt a balanced diet. Avoid spicy, fried and oily foods to prevent getting heaty. According to TCM, cold drinks and food can hurt our digestive system.
- Ensure adequate intake of foods high in fibre and constantly replenish fluids to ensure smooth bowel movement.
- Herbs like wild American ginseng and cordyceps are known to help boost the body's qi and improve the respiratory functions. Having a luohan fruit tea regularly can also help to clear the lung heat and replenish the body's yin.
This article was first published on The New Paper.