Food as medicine

Food as medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is more than just acupuncture and the odd herbal formula. Nutritional advice plays a key role in our holistic treatment plans, with colds being no exception. The common cold is most often classified by TCM principles as Wind-Cold attack, although some presentations are known as Wind-Heat or Summer Heat Dampness.

In normal circumstances, relieving Wind-Cold attack involves expelling Wind, dispersing Cold and inducing sweating. Ginger is commonly included for its warming, pungent properties. For example, one recipe for Wind-Cold combines 30 grams of sliced ginger with 10 grams of scallion root (spring onion-white part) in 200mL of water, to be slowly boiled as a decoction. Afterwards, brown sugar can be added to taste. Another decoction is simply 15 grams of garlic boiled with 15 grams of ginger, while a third option is just 15 grams each of ginger and orange peel. 

Some foods are recommended for their affinities to specific organs. For the Lungs, these include ginger, onion, pear, white turnip, almonds; and if accessible, water chestnut and lily bulb. Walnut, prawns and black sesame are related to the Kidneys, the keepers of our life force. Sweet foods are general tonics for overall weakness, such as honey, potatoes, rice, peas and chestnuts. If you’ve been run down or debilitated, you may be advised to nourish your Kidneys or include more sweet foods. 

TCM isn’t one-size-fits-all, even for the common cold. Everyone is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses and circumstances, so it is best to seek personalised support from a qualified practitioner.