October 2017

Is It A Cold, Or Is It Allergies? – How Knowing The Difference Can Speed Recovery

The change in season has finally arrived and our bodies have begun adjusting to the drier air and colder temperatures. It is at this time that I see an increase in patients coming in complaining of headache, nasal congestion, frequent sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, and dry throat. Before I reach for classic formulas such as “cong chi tang” or “yin qiao san”, I must consider that these symptoms could be the result of seasonal allergies.

Often, what appears as an invasion of the TCM pattern known as wind-cold, wind-heat, or wind-dryness, can often be the body’s response to an increase of allergens in the environment. I learned this first hand when treating patients in Fenton, MI, a town known to the locals as the “allergy belt of the U.S.”. I found Chinese formulas such as “chuan xiong cha tiao san”, “cang er zi san”, and “yu ping feng san” the most helpful.

Both allergies and colds usually present with headache, nasal congestion, mild cough, and watery eyes, however there are some symptoms that are more indicative of a cold. The right diagnosis and treatment brings about a prompt alleviation of symptoms.

Cold – Symptoms To Look For

1) Alternating fever and chills
2) Body aches and stiffness
3) A high temperature
4) Throat pain that is more severe

These symptoms are not typical of allergies, which tend to produce a lot of head symptoms from post nasal drip. In either case, the immune system is being taxed and can benefit from some support.

How to gear up for this season’s demands on our immune system?

-Give yourself a little more time at night and get to sleep earlier.
-Eat well, and include a soup each week that uses a stock as the base.
-Take Vitamin A daily or every other day. Cod Liver Oil provides an excellent source.
-Drink a glass of lemon water in the morning at room temperature or warmed.
-Get a few weekly acupuncture treatments to promote a stronger immune system.

These simple actions will help get you through the cold season in good health!

Michal Metcalfe