An Sen Medicine Cabinet:
Swine Flu and Chinese Medicine
In this article of An Sen Medicine Cabinet we will focus on Swine Flu and Chinese Medicine. It may be helpful to refer to my previous blog for additional discussion on herbal formulas to help fight off cold and flu.
Recent scares of swine flu, aka H1N1, have everyone freaked out indeed. Did you know that Chinese Medicine created formulas, some of them as old as 5,000 years, for these types of epidemic flu pattern symptoms?
According to the CDC, the symptoms of this new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
Although symptoms of any flu or “swine flu” for that matter can vary significantly, base formulas have been developed upon which a practitioner of this art can tailor the herbs to fit the needs of the individual presentation. Lets take a look at Xiao Chai Hu Tang which may be crucial in alleviating the symptoms, as well as, boosting the immune system so the body has a better chance of fighting off the virus.
Known as a formula to treat “Lesser Yang Disorders”-a very specific stage of flu pathology, noted as being halfway interior in the body and halfway exterior. Not quite at the initial stage when you might for instance just feel a scratchy throat with a little post- nasal drip. In that case, Yin Qiao San may be more appropriate in large does to fight off or push out the evil virus before it gets the chance to enter the body any deeper. Lesser Yang stage, or shaoyang symptoms are characterized as alternating fever and chills, dry throat, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, (often common when fever is present) dizziness, sensation and fullness in the chest and hypochondria (often experienced as difficulty in taking deep breaths), heartburn, nausea and vomiting, reduced appetite and wiry pulse, and possibly a thin white tongue coating. For cough, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose and body aches one might combine this formula, or some of the herbs contained within Gan Mao Ling wan.
Many herbs, and Chinese Herbal Formula constituents have anti-viral actions which are scientifically known. There are so many active constituents in 1 herb alone, however, it is unlikely we will ever be able to identify each and every one of them. Unlike the current pharmaceuticals like tamiflu or zanamivir, which are manufactured for one, or very specific pharmacological actions in particular, herbs are holistic in there nature- as nature intended. Although specific pharmaceuticals may be stronger in a one action than a decocted herb, their actions are limited and we are setting ourselves up for viral resistant strains of swine flu, and flu virus’ in general. Not unlike what we have accomplished with MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the overuse of antibiotics. We too, are apart of nature, and perhaps our bodies don’t need such overpowering substances, but rather a broad spectrum of herbal antivirals, which provide their strength in combination-something that may deter viral resistance.
**This article serves to educate the reader. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or disease. Please speak to a qualified health care provider before self diagnosing or medicating.
Alysia Anderson, L.Ac., M.Ac.OM
An Sen Acupuncture & Massage Clinic
107 SE Washington St. Suite #134
Portland Oregon 97214