Is It My Allergies or is It a Cold, Part 2

I am writing this short article on October 9, 2009. 75% of the people I have seen yesterday and today have come in with exactly the same symptoms (regardless of what other condition was bringing them in for treatment) – congestion, runny nose with clear, thin mucus, scratchy throat, cough, and a gravely voice. And what does every single person say to me – “it is my allergies, something is blowing around in the wind out there.” I cannot emphasize the following points enough:

• There is nothing blowing around in the wind that is causing the symptoms; the wind itself is the issue.
• The only way that wind penetrates into the body is if the body’s defensive Qi is weak. Stop blaming the external environment and take care of your internal one.
• The difference between allergies and a cold is clinically irrelevant. In Chinese medicine the treatment is predicated upon pattern discrimination; in western medicine the treatment is predicated upon symptom suppression regardless of diagnosis.

From a Chinese medical perspective, everyone I am seeing is presenting with signs of a wind cold invasion. If you don’t take care of it with rest and possible treatment, it is likely to go deeper and get worse. I see this sort of thing all winter long – minor symptoms one day, feeling better the next, fully sick by the third or fourth day. At the very least, drink some hot water with fresh ginger juice, cinnamon and scallions added. The warming, diaphoretic (sweat inducing) properties of these foods will help to eliminate the wind by literally pushing it back out through the pores through which the wind entered in the first place.

On the note of wind cold syndromes, there will be two changes you might notice in the office this fall. One is the aroma of Medieval Mix in my office and the treatment rooms. This is an essential oil blend made by Aura Cacia. It is based on the Four Thieves Oil, which was an herbal formula used in the 15th century to prevent bubonic plague. There are many historical versions of this formula, and numerous companies manufacture variations of them today. I have found this particular blend by Aura Cacia to be extremely helpful in purifying the air during times of illness. I feel this is much safer and more effective than conventional chemical preparations. There is more to the properties of the plants than just acting as some sort of natural antiseptic preparation, which is usually how most people think of them.

The essential oil blend is dispersed by means of an aromatherapy ball diffuser, which simply plugs in to any socket and disperses the oils over a period of 4 hours or so. I also add the Medieval Mix to a spray bottle filled with water and spray the rooms in between patients. I will try to carry the Medieval Mix and diffusers for anyone who wants them, but they are available at Whole Foods as well.

The other change you may notice is shorter talking sessions if you are sick. If you are sitting there with a cough and a sore throat, I don’t see any reason to sit and chat for 30 minutes. The entire session should be appropriate for your current condition, including acute illness, which requires less time to talk through and diagnose. If you are sick, there will be more treatment and less talking.