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Is Your Cold a Heat-Cold or a Cold-Cold? Deciphering Cold and Flu Patterns in Chinese Medicine

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


In the realm of Chinese medicine, the balance of forces within the body plays a crucial role in maintaining health. When it comes to the flu or common cold, two distinct forces, Wind-Heat and Wind-Cold, are often identified as culprits. Understanding the differences between these two patterns is essential for tailoring effective treatments. Join us in discussing the difference between the two, so you can decipher if your illness is a cold-cold or a heat-cold.


Wind-Heat: The Fiery Invasion

Wind-Heat illness is characterized by an invasion of external pathogens that bring heat into the body. Common symptoms include:

  • High fever, with sweating and often accompanied with thirst

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion with yellow fluids or phlegm

  • Irritability

Home Remedies for Wind-Heat Illness:

  • Cooling Herbs: Making teas out of herbs like honeysuckle, peppermint, and chrysanthemum are often prescribed to clear heat from the body.

  • Hydration: Emphasis on staying hydrated to counteract the heat and fever.

  • Rest: Adequate rest to support the body's natural healing processes.


Wind-Cold Illness: The Chilled Intruder

Wind-Cold illness, on the other hand, is characterized by an invasion of cold external pathogens. Key symptoms include:

  • Chills with body aches

  • Slight fever with an absence of sweating and an aversion to cold

  • Scratchy throat

  • Headache

  • Cough

  • Congestion with clear/white fluids or phlegm

Home Remedies for Wind-Cold Illness:

  • Warming Herbs: Making either teas or soups with warming herbs like ginger and cinnamon are often used to expel cold from the body.

  • Warmth and Rest: Keeping warm and resting to encourage the body to expel the cold pathogen.

  • Gentle Movement: Mild exercise or activities that promote circulation without causing sweating.


Some other home remedies you can add for battling wind of any kind include Astragalus root which can help build your defensive qi to protect from invading pathogens. Herbal formulas such as Yu Ping Feng San (in which the chief herb is Astragalus) taken regularly can help build your immune system. Avoid sleeping with the window open or fans on. And as always, keep your neck and ankles covered in cold and/or windy weather as these are the areas most prone to a wind intrusion, both heat and cold.


Tailoring Treatment for Balance

In Chinese medicine, the concept of Yin and Yang, the balance of opposing forces, is foundational. Wind-Heat and Wind-Cold illnesses represent imbalances in this delicate equilibrium. Your Chinese Medicine Practitioner can help you recognize the distinctive symptoms of each and create tailored herbal treatments if these home remedies aren't quite enough.

So whether you're battling the fiery invader of Wind-Heat or the chilled intruder of Wind-Cold, you can use the wisdom of Chinese medicine as a better approach to illness management at home. By embracing the nuances of these patterns, we can navigate the winds of wellness and support the body on its journey back to balance.

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