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Common Cold

In Western Medicine Infection from the common cold or influenza virus takes place through the upper respiratory tract. It occurs in any season but it is more frequent in Winter or Spring. The common cold may be caused by a variety of viruses including the adenovirus, echovirus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus. Influenza may be caused by the influenza viruses A, B or C.

Chinese medicine views common cold as either a manifestation of Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat. The majority of common colds start off as an external invasion by pathological influence, they are sudden in onset, superficial in location, usually the symptoms are mild and of short course, and if a patient comes to see us at the onset of the cold the treatment is extremely effective. If the cold goes untreated the body becomes weaker allowing the pathogen to move deeper into the body causing it to progress to an interior condition, the condition then becomes more chronic and the longer the pathogen resides in the body the deeper it may travel and more complicated it will be to treat.

When Diagnosing and treating common cold, TCM simplifies and breaks down the syndrome by differentiation of symptoms, so to tailor the correct treatment and herbs for each individual. The syndromes are diagnosed as either Interior/Exterior, Hot/Cold, Excess/deficiency, Yin/Yang. We then need to determine at what level according to the signs and symptoms displayed, has the pathogen developed within your system. Every syndrome has its own specific symptoms, only by understanding these principle methods can we make accurate judgement about the disease.


Cong Chi Tang (Spring Onion and Miso Soup)

This is a rather neutral decoction and will not dry out the or injure the fluids. it is useful for the treatment of mild conditions of common cold and something you can do at home. For the best result, this Soup should be taken hot after meals. The function of this formula (soup) is to release externally contracted disorders by inducing sweating. Sweating can be further induced if you rug-up straight after taking the soup. Only a slight sweat all over the body is needed to release the exterior. Too much sweating will injure the qi and fluids. It is important that after you sweat you change completely into a fresh set of clothes and keep warm away from any draft.

Mild fever and slight headache( occipital), stuffy nose


  • 3-5 stalks (white part only) of scallions (spring onion)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Red Miso
  • 6 cups water


  • Dissolve the miso in a little bit of boiling water (about 2 tsp)
  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add the miso.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes. In the last 3 minutes add spring onions (do not cook any longer then 10 minutes, do not let miso boil)

Foods/herbs to avoid early on-set of cold

A purgative is a medication that encourages bowel movements, or acts as a laxative. These foods, and herbs should be avoided until the cold symptoms have improved otherwise they can draw the pathogen deeper into the body.

Any herbs that act to tonify or purge should be avoided whilst you have a cold otherwise they will make the condition worse. Always check with your TCM practitioner.

Foods which act as purgatives are caffeine, prunes, rhubarb, senna, tomato juice, apple juice, vanilla, watercress, dandelion, celery, aloe vera, carob, endive, flaxseed,grape, guava, kiwi fruit, liquorice, molasses.