Influenzaaccording to TCM

What is Influenza?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness marked by symptoms like high fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. It's a widespread condition known for its rapid spread and seasonal peaks. Variations in severity make influenza a public health concern, with potential complications in vulnerable groups.

How does TCM view influenza

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perceives influenza beyond a viral infection. In TCM, it's seen as an imbalance of the body's Qi (vital energy) due to external pathogenic factors. The diagnosis and treatment in TCM revolve around identifying and correcting this imbalance.

Commonly, influenza is attributed to external invasions like Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat, which disrupt the body's Qi harmony, leading to flu symptoms. Treatment approaches, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and lifestyle adjustments, are tailored to the specific pattern of disharmony in each individual.

Causes of Influenza according to TCM

In TCM, the onset of influenza is linked to environmental factors and internal health. The prevalent belief is that exposure to external elements like Wind, coupled with Cold or Heat, triggers flu symptoms.

This external disturbance upsets the Yin-Yang equilibrium within the body. Factors such as a weakened Qi, internal Dampness, or accumulated Phlegm can also heighten vulnerability to these external pathogens. The key to effective TCM treatment lies in pinpointing the unique disharmony pattern affecting the individual.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Influenza

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the treatment of influenza is tailored to the patient's specific symptoms. Da Qing Long Tang, featuring Ephedra (Ma Huang), is used for flu cases with External Cold and Internal Heat, such as fever and chills without sweating. Ephedra helps release exterior symptoms and mobilizes lung Qi. Gui Zhi Tang, with Cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi), treats Greater Yang Wind invasion, marked by alternating chills and fever. Cinnamon twigs dispel pathogenic wind and warm the body.

For initial-stage flu with mild fever and cold aversion, Jia Wei Xiang Su San is preferred. Its key herb, Perilla leaves (Zi Su Ye), disperses Cold and regulates Qi flow, easing early flu symptoms. These TCM formulas demonstrate a targeted approach to influenza, focusing on the patient's unique pattern of imbalance to restore health effectively.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address influenza, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that clear wind-Cold
  • External formulas for external disorders
  • Formulas that clear qi-level heat
  • Formulas that clear wind-Heat
  • Formulas that clear early-stage exterior disorders
  • Formulas that dredge and disperse external wind
  • Formulas that tonify qi
  • Formulas that purge heat accumulation
  • Formulas that clear malarial disorders
  • Formulas that disperse dryness and moisten
  • Formulas that dispel summer-Heat and resolve exterior

All "formulas that clear qi-level heat" recommended for influenza

Formula Key herbs
Bai Hu Tang Gypsum (Shi Gao)
Zhu Ye Shi Gao Tang Gypsum (Shi Gao)

All "formulas that clear wind-Heat" recommended for influenza

Formula Key herbs
Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu), Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)
Sang Ju Yin Mulberry Leaves (Sang Ye), Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua)

All "formulas that clear early-stage exterior disorders" recommended for influenza

Formula Key herbs
Cong Chi Tang Scallions (Cong Bai)
Huo Ren Cong Shi Tang Scallions (Cong Bai)

TCM Herbs for Influenza

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address influenza, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Cool/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Herbs that clear heat and relieve toxicity
  • Herbs that clear heat and purge fire and/or clear summer heat
  • Tonic herbs for qi deficiency
  • Aromatic herbs that transform dampness
  • Purgative herbs that drain downward
  • Herbs that expel parasites
  • Warm herbs that transform phlegm and stop cough
  • Herbs that dispel wind and dampness

"Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity" recommended for influenza

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) Yin Qiao San
Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao) Yin Qiao San
Isatis Leaf (Da Qing Ye) Not applicable

"Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat" recommended for influenza

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Gypsum (Shi Gao) Bai Hu Tang | Zhu Ye Shi Gao Tang
Climbing Groundsel Herbs (Qian Li Guang) Not applicable

"Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency" recommended for influenza

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Ginseng (Ren Shen) Bu Fei Tang
Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) Bu Fei Tang

"Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness" recommended for influenza

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Tsaoko Fruits (Cao Guo) Da Yuan Yin
Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu) Da Yuan Yin