Influenza according to Chinese Medicine

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Influenza factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, influenza can be associated with four so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here influenza can be caused by four different patterns.

To understand whether someone's influenza might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from influenza alone. For instance when influenza is caused by the pattern Heat in Yang brightness Organs, patients also experience symptoms such as severe constipation, flatulence, focal distention and abdominal fullness. Similarly, patients with Heat in Yang brightness Organs typically exhibit full (Shi) pulses as well as a tongue with grey or black coating, yellow coating.

We've listed below a description of the four patterns associated with influenza so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below two formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with influenza, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The four "patterns of disharmony" associated with influenza

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Pulse type(s): Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Grey or black coating, Yellow coating

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Flatulence Focal distention Abdominal fullness Severe constipation Tense and firm abdomen Abdominal pain that increases upon pressure

Influenza might be due to Heat in Yang brightness Organs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as severe constipation, flatulence, focal distention and abdominal fullness. Similarly, patients with Heat in Yang brightness Organs typically exhibit full (Shi) pulses as well as a tongue with grey or black coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Heat in Yang brightness Organs here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Yang Excess

Yang Excess

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Fever Thirst Red face Irritability Restlnessness Scanty dark urination Yellow vaginal discharge

Yang Excess is a Full Yang state and its symptoms are similar to those are caused by the Heat Pernicious invasion. Yang is associated with Heat, activity and Dryness and these are the general symptoms when patients have Excess Yang. However, they become more specific depending on the Organ involved. For instance, Excess Liver Yang can cause migraines, or Excess Heart Yang can result in manic behavior and extreme restlessness. When there is Excess Yang, the body is in a hyperfunctional state. Over time, the Body Fluids can be "burned off" by the presence of Excessive Yang, resulting in a condition of Yin Deficiency.

Excess Yang is most likely caused by the Heat Pernicious Influence, either External or Internal. It can also be caused by internal damage from the Seven Emotions, the Stagnation of Qi or Blood, over-exposure to hot climates or environments, indigestion, and the over consumption of hot-natured and fried greasy foods, coffee, alcohol and red meat.

Read more about Yang Excess here

Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Recommended herbal formula: Da Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Irritability Generalized body pain Severe fever and chills without sweating

Influenza might be due to Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as severe fever and chills without sweating, generalized body pain, thirst and irritability. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses.

Read more about Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the key herb for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Da Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Irritability Absence of sweating Feeling of heaviness Generalized body pain Alternating fever and chills Superficial edema in the extremities

Influenza might be due to Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as feeling of heaviness, generalized body pain, superficial edema in the extremities and alternating fever and chills. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

The two herbal formulas that might help with influenza

Da Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Relieves constipation.

Why might Da Cheng Qi Tang help with influenza?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Heat in Yang brightness Organs and Yang Excess which are sometimes associated with influenza. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Da Cheng Qi Tang here

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Why might Da Qing Long Tang help with influenza?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation and Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs which are sometimes associated with influenza. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang here