Colds are virus-infected diseases in the upper respiratory tract and classified as common cold and influenza. Common cold, usually mild, results from rhinovirus infection and is characterized mainly by nasal symptoms. But influenza, usually widespread, is due to influenza virus infection and has pronounced systemic toxic symptoms. With a high morbidity and repeated infection tendency, influenza may occur all the year round but mostly in winter and spring.
The aptly named common cold is the most frequent infection in all age groups in the United States. Cold symptoms are triggered when a virus attaches itself to the lining of your nasal passages or throat. Although everyone catches colds, children have them more often than adults. Cold infections are most common during "cold season," which in the United States begins in late fall and runs through spring. Symptoms are manifested as head and chest congestion, perhaps with a runny nose and difficulty breathing, sore throat, sneezing, dry cough that may occur only at night, chills, burning, watery eyes, allover, vague achiness, headache, constant fatigue.
Influenza - commonly shortened to "flu" - is an extremely contagious viral disease that appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The infection spreads through the upper respiratory tract and sometimes goes into the lungs. Although both colds and influenza stem from viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract, the symptoms of influenza are more pronounced and its complications more severe. Influenza occurs most commonly in school-age children, but its most severe effects are felt by infants, the elderly and people with chronic ailments. Symptoms are manifested as fever - usually between 101°F and 102°F, but occasionally as high as 106ºF - sometimes alternating with chills, sore throat, dry, hacking cough, aching muscles, general fatigue and weakness, nasal congestion, sneezing, headache.
Colds fall into the categories of "shang feng" (common cold), "shi xing gan mao" (influenza), etc. in TCM according to the clinical manifestations. The chief pathogenic factors are pathogenic wind and pestilential toxicity. The main pathogenesis includes pathogenic factors invading the body surface, dysfunction of defense qi due to the initial invasion of the body surface by pathogenic warm, disharmony between superficial defensive system and the exterior. It is advisable to follow such a therapeutic principle as relieving exterior syndrome, but with differentiation of symptom types and application of therapeutic methods as follows:
A. Wind-cold type
Chief Manifestations: Severe chill, mild fever, no sweating, headache, soreness and pain of the limbs, nasal obstruction or discharge, itching of the throat, cough with thin sputum, no thirst or thirst with desire for hot drink, thin-white and moist tongue coating and superficial or superficial-tense pulse.
Therapeutic method: Expelling cold to relieve exterior syndrome with pungent and warm herbs.
B. Wind-heat type
Chief Manifestations: Severe fever, slight chill, nasal obstruction, sweating, distending pain over the head, congestion of the throat, sore throat, cough with thick or yellow sputum, thirst, thin-yellow tongue coating and superficial and rapid pulse.
Therapeutic method: Clearing away heat to relieve exterior syndrome with pungent and cool herbs.
C. Exterior cold and interior heat type
Chief Manifestations: Fever, aversion to cold, no sweating, thirst, stuffy nose, muffled voice, cough, rapid breathing, yellow, sticky and thick sputum, brown urine, constipation, red tongue tip and margins with yellow and white coating, and superficial and rapid pulse.
Therapeutic method: To disperse wind and release lung qi, expel cold and clear away heat.
D. Summer-heat-dampness type
Chief Manifestations: Fever, slight aversion to cold little sweating, or sweating without relieving fever, heavy and painful sensation over the limbs, headache, dizziness, thirst and desire for a little drink, oppressive feeling over the chest, vomiting, nausea, yellow and greasy tongue coating and rapid and soft-floating pulse.
Therapeutic principles: To clear away summer-heat, resolve dampness and relieve exterior syndrome.
E. Common cold in debilitated persons
A weak person is subject to colds which are liable to recur and to resist being cured. In these cases, therapy is not merely dispelling evil with diaphoretic agents, but tonic herbs, varied according to the different kinds of deficiencies, should be added for supporting the defense system, which follows the the therapeutic principle so called "strengthening body resistance to eliminate pathogen."
(a) Qi-deficiency type
Manifestations: Chilliness, fever, headache, stuffy nose, cough with whitish sputum, shortness of breath, pale tongue with thin, white coating and floating and weak pulse.
(b) Yang-deficiency type
Manifestations: Mild fever with predominant chilliness, headache, general aching, anhidrosis or spontaneous perspiration, pale complexion, cold limbs, weak voice, corpulent-pale tongue with thin and white coating and floating and weak pulse.
(c) Blood-deficiency type
Manifestations: Headache, fever, mild chilliness, anhidrosis, pale complexion, lips and nails, dizziness, palpitations, pale tongue with thin, white coating and small or floating-weak pulse.
(d) Yin-deficiency type
Manifestations: Headache, fever, mild chilliness, anhidrosis or slight perspiration, dryness of throat , thirst, feverish sensation over the palms, soles and the chest, dry cough, dizziness, uneasy feeling in the eyes, red tongue with little coating and rapid and small pulse.
The cough is one of the chief symptoms of lung disorder, but it may occur in diseases of other organs involving the lungs. Some diseases in modern medicine have the cough as the major symptom, such as upper respirator infection, bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia and pulmonary tuberculosis, etc. In traditional Chinese medicine the therapy of expelling exogenous evils and releasing lung-qi is generally recommended for cough due to exogenous evils (wind, cold, heat, dryness, etc., attack the lungs through the mouth, nose, or skin, which leads to dysfunction of the lungs and adverse ascending of lung-qi, thus causing cough). For cough due to impairment of internal organs (phlegm and fire are two agents closely related to the pathogenesis of cough. For example, emotional upset may impair the liver, causing stagnation of liver-qi with production of fire; as a result, the liver-fire attacks the lungs. Immoderate diet and drinking impair the spleen and lead to the disturbance of food digestion and fluid transportation, and sputum is produced and accumulates in the lungs), regulating zang-fu organs should be the major principle, such as tonifying the spleen, benefiting the lungs and clearing away liver-fire, etc.
Common-used Chinese Herbal Remedies
1. Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian (Detoxicant Tablets of Honeysuckle Flower and Forsythia): applicable to the cold of wind-heat type.
2. Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji (Isatis Granule): applicable to the cold of wind-heat type and the prevention of influenza.
3. Gan Mao Tui Re Chong Ji (Antiphlogistic Granules for Flu), granules for infusion, used for cases of upper respiratory infection, acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis.
4. Sang Ju Gan Mao Pian (Tablet of Mulberry Leaf and Chrysanthemum for Common Cold), applicable to cold of wind-heat type, cough due to wind-heat or dry heat.
5. Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan (Bupleurum Pill for Shaoyang Syndrome), applicable to influenza and common cold, manifested as alternate chills and fever, feeling of fullness and discomfort in the chest and hypochondrium.
6. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan (Agastache Pill for Restoring Healthy Qi), applicable to the cold of summer-heat and dampness type, viral gastroenteritis.
7. Yin Huang Kou Fu Ye (Oral Liquid of Honeysuckle Flower and Coptidis), applicable to influenza, upper respiratory tract infection, and acute tonsillitis etc.
8. Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Wan (Nine-ingredient Pill with Notopterygium), used to induce sweating, dispel dampness and clear internal heat for external contraction of wind-cold-damp complicated by internal heat.
9. Xiao Qing Long Tang Wan (Pill of Small Dragon Decoction), used to release the exterior, disperse cold, warm the lung and resolve the retained fluid in cases of cold in the exterior and retained fluid in the interior.
10. Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan (Pill of Ligusticum), used for attacks of exopathic wind, headache, migraine or pain on the top of head, aversion to cold, fever, dizziness, obstruction of the nose, thin and white fur of the tongue, floating pulse, common cold, nervous headache, etc.
11. Fang Feng Tong Sheng Wan (Miraculous Saposhnikovia Pills), used for excess syndrome of both the interior and exterior due to attack by wind and internal accumulation of heat, marked by aversion to cold, high fever, headache, sore throat, fullness in the chest, constipation, skin eruption or ulcers.
12. Yu Ping Feng San (Jade-screen Powder), applicable to rhinallergosis, and upper respiratory tract infection, which pertain to syndrome of invasion by pathogenic wind due to lowered superficial resistance and with spontaneous sweating symptom, as well as bronchial asthma .
13. Ren Shen Bai Du Wan (Pill of Ginseng and Mentha Extract), used for attacks of externally-contracted wind, cold and dampness and with qi deficiency, marked by high fever and severe chills, shivering, aversion to cold, aches in the head, the neck and the muscles, lack of perspiration, pain and soreness of the limbs, nasal congestion, sensation of fullness and distention in the chest and epigastrium, skin rashes, common cold.