Wind Invasions and Other Funny Business

Wind InvasionEver wonder what in the world us acupuncturists are thinking when we tell you that you have some kind damp heat accumulation in your lower jiao, or that your liver qi is attacking your spleen? Well how about a wind invasion?

I hope to help you understand a bit better where we are coming from by talking today about wind invasions. After all, it is the time of year for them. By wind invasion I am really talking about colds and flus. So how does what we do for a cold differ from what you might otherwise accomplish at the drug store? Simply put, the methods, and herbs prescribed for these illnesses work to both address the symptom as well as fight off the infection. And it does this with specificity in mind as to the particular type of infection. A cold pill only gets you through it.

Now we all know the basic symptoms of a cold or flu, but not every infection will present the same. Take for example what we call a wind heat invasion. This is the type of cold that creates hot-type symptoms such as fever, cough, red/swollen throat, sweats and perhaps a thick green or yellow mucus. This is in sharp contrast to the type of cold that produces chills, headache, stiff neck, and a clear runny nose as seen in a wind cold invasion.

Now the over-the-counter treatment for all this would generally be the same. You might reach for a cold pill containing acetaminophen for a pain killer and fever reducer, a cough suppressant even though you may not even have a cough, an expectorant to clear out the mucus, and an antihistamine to help you sleep. Everything here is strictly symptom based, and often treats symptoms that you do not even have.

Now something like a flu shot is designed to build immunity to the influenza virus responsible for giving you the flu. But unless you want to inject mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, and other nasty stuff into yourself when you are trying to stay healthy, I would advise against going that route. There is just too much evidence indicating that flu shots are more dangerous than they are worth. There may be a time for them, but not about 95% of the time. But that is really another blog.

From the Chinese Medical perspective we reach for herbs that address the particular condition of the patient. For example if there are the cold type symptoms we would prescribe warming herbs like ginger, cinnamon, and some other fun Chinese-named herbs that not only warm the system, but have anti-viral properties to address the infection. If there is a heat-type infection we would reach for herbs that are cooling in nature, like mint, for example. We can effectively treat the symptoms by balancing out heat and cold and address the infection by mixing in herbs that have anti-viral and/or bacterial properties.

Overall Chinese herbal formulas are a very well balanced and safe way to address many medical conditions. The beauty of such an approach is that it allows the practitioner to take into account not only the patient, but the environment in which the patient is living. The more we can relate to what is affecting us the better we can exist harmoniously with our environment and allow for a healthier experience. Now let me be the first to admit here that it is important to look specifically and scientifically into some issues, but let me also suggest that it is equally as important to be willing and able to take a step back and simplify things a bit. Sometimes it is just easier to call it a wind invasion and treat it with acupuncture points and herbs indicated for wind invasions. There is a lot of wisdom in the Traditional Chinese approach to medicine. The actual science is wrapped up in the symbolism. You would be surprised to know all the things we can treat effectively, even when we do call them something a little odd like “Phlegm Fire Misting the Orifices,” for example.

Allow yourself to have an open mind and the world becomes a much bigger place. Allow yourself to contact me and who knows how much better you may feel!

What’s your experience with acupuncture and Chinese herbs? Please share them with us!

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