Frequent colds or flu according to Chinese Medicine

Frequent colds or flu can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like frequent colds or flu here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here frequent colds or flu is often associated with shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause frequent colds or flu.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of frequent colds or flu we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat frequent colds or flu.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause frequent colds or flu

In Chinese Medicine frequent colds or flu is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to frequent colds or flu, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

In addition to frequent colds or flu, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-and-heart-qi-deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-and-heart-qi-deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency here

The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Lung Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Slowed-down (Huan), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to frequent colds or flu, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency is often treated with Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm interior cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Lungs".

Read more about Lung Yang Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with frequent colds or flu

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency' of which frequent colds or flu is a symptom.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency' of which frequent colds or flu is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang here

Bao Yuan Tang

Source date: 1624

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

Why might Bao Yuan Tang help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-and-heart-qi-deficiency' of which frequent colds or flu is a symptom.

Read more about Bao Yuan Tang here

Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Strengthens the Stomach.

Why might Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency' of which frequent colds or flu is a symptom.

Read more about Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang here

Sheng Mai San

Source date: Yuan Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Augments Qi. Supplies the Yin. Stops excessive sweating. Generates Body Fluids.

Why might Sheng Mai San help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency' of which frequent colds or flu is a symptom.

Read more about Sheng Mai San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat frequent colds or flu

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with frequent colds or flu?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent colds or flu as a symptom, like Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang or Bao Yuan Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with frequent colds or flu?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent colds or flu as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with frequent colds or flu?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent colds or flu as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with frequent colds or flu?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent colds or flu as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Milkvetch Root (Huang Qi) help with frequent colds or flu?

Because it is a key herb in Bao Yuan Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency' (a pattern with frequent colds or flu as a symptom)

Milkvetch Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Wei Qi and stops perspiration. Tonifies the Spleen Qi and the Yang Qi of the Earth Element. Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Expels pus and assists in the healing of wounds. Helps to regulate water metabolism in the body and reduce edema.

Read more about Milkvetch Roots here