Chinese Herbal Medicines for the Common Cold
Joel Harvey Schreck, L.Ac.
We've all heard it said “We
can land spaceships on Mars, but can't even cure the
common cold.” The cold seems to be a humbling
curse that is mankind's burden forever.
frustrations of science, some people claim to cure a
cold with an amazing variety of stuff like garlic,
ginger, zinc, and vitamin C. These never worked for
me. I found that once my cold started, I was in for
a week of suffering.
That is, until an
acquaintance gave me a vial of Chinese pills and
told me to take them if I felt a cold coming on. A
few days later, I awoke with a sore throat. Before
leaving for work, I remembered the pills and took
That evening, I realized that my
budding cold had vanished, gone without a trace.
tuned out to be
Was this a fluke? How could no one know about this?
As it turns out, it was no fluke. Since that day,
Yin Chiao and similar Chinese remedies have ended
most of my colds. Perhaps medical science hasn't
cured the common cold, but it appears that Chinese
herbalists did it hundreds of years ago. The formula
for Yin Chiao was first published in the eighteenth
century. It's hard to understand why it would take
the West so long to discover them. I imagine if bad
news travels quickly, good news must travel slowly.
no matter how good, are met with resistance. That’s
why it took us about a thousand years to discover
Chinese food. With pharmaceutical cold medicines
proving to be harmful, let's hope it doesn't take
another thousand years to discover Chinese herbal
Not only are they safer, but
Chinese herbs are simply more effective. When you
discover them, you'll never even think about drugs
for colds or visiting the doctor for a cold.
When Western civilization discovers them, it
could turn our medical establishment upside down,
easing suffering and preventing millions of needless
trips to the doctor. This might be bad news for
doctors, but it's very good news for everyone else.
Chinese herbalists knew nothing about germs, they
knew that respiratory diseases were caused
evils. Evils that caused serious diseases like
influenza and measles were called wind-heat evils.
Common colds were caused by wind-cold evils.
Our bodies are
protected from wind evils by defensive energy, known
as wei qi.
adequate wei qi, you can be exposed to disease
without getting sick. Herbs such as astragalus can
be used to boost the wei qi, protecting us from
invaders. They block the entry of wind evils.
evils requires herbs that
these are ginger, mint, kudzu root, and many
others. Some of these herbs protect against
wind-heat evils; others defend against wind-cold
invaders. These herbs are rarely taken alone, but
are combined in formulas that greatly increase their
Some of the most popular Chinese
cold formulas appear to work on any kind of wind
invasion, hot or cold. However, I have found that
certain formulas work better on different parts of
colds originating in the throat seem to respond best
to Yin Chiao,
which is taken at the
first sign of cold. Keep them with you during cold
season; the sooner you take them, the better they
work. Yin Chiao contains remarkably simple and safe
herbs. They are: honeysuckle, forsythia, balloon
flower, peppermint, edible burdock, crested grass,
schizonepeta, fermented soybean, and Chinese
colds that begin in the nose, I prefer
Gan Mao Ling.
Use it alone or combine it with Yin Chiao when nasal
or sinus congestion is present at the onset. Gan mao
ling contains: Ilex Root, Chrysanthemum Flower,
Vitex Herb, Isatis Root, and honeysuckle flower.
relieve colds which are too far developed to stop,
or to relieve colds that begin with body aches,
fever, and chills, I believe the best remedy is
Zong Gan Ling which contains: kudzu root, hairy
holly root, vervain, woad root, wormwood, gypsum,
Preventing a cold requires a different formula
altogether, one that strengthens the body's
defensive energy. The most famous of these formulas
is called Yu Ping Feng San, or otherwise
known as, Jade Windscreen or Jade Shield. This
formula is used to build defensive energy (wei qi)
and protect against cold, flu, and other invasions.
Jade Screen contains astragalus, Atractylodis,
Many of these formulas are available in natural food
stores, particularly on the West Coast. If you can't
find them at your local health food store, you can
certainly find them on the web. I strongly suggest
that you try them. They will open your eyes to the
potency and reliability of Chinese herbals. And
unlike many of the drugs at your drugstore, all of
these are safe for children.
Remember that a mere hundred years ago, no one in
the West had even heard of Chinese food. Today there
are Chinese restaurants everywhere. I can assure you
that Chinese cold medicines work, and will become as
valuable to our culture in the 21st
century as Chinese food became in the 20th
About the Author
Schreck, L.Ac. is an acupuncturist and
herbologist. Schooled in Hong Kong and San Francisco, he's been practicing since
1987. He is the author of A Patient's Guide to
He is co-founder
of the Shen Clinic and co-founder of the popular
line of natural medicines, sold nationally in many
natural food stores. Visit