Traditional Chinese Medicine Explorer

You Deserve a Long Healthy Life



Story by: Susan Taubman

December not only signals the holiday season, but also heralds the approach of the "flu season."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates flu shots, particularly around National Influenza Vaccination Week from Dec. 8-14.

Both Western and Chinese medicine prescribe nutritional and lifestyle approaches to treat the flu. While the two medical systems acknowledge a similar root cause, they also advise different treatments, as can be seen by comparing information provided by local health practitioners.

Susan Ocheltree certified nutrition consultant, who works with Linda Clark, MA, certified nutrition consultant and owner of Universal Wellness Associates in Fair Oaks, provides a western perspective for flu treatment from the standpoint of natural remedies. Ocheltree advocates that a person with the flu get plenty of sleep. She said sleep repairs the body and strengthens the immune system.

According to Ocheltree, what may also be helpful, in addition to increasing liquid intake, are "vitamin C, zinc and herbal antimicrobials such as garlic, oil of oregano and olive leaf." She also suggests eating plenty of protein to repair the body.

Recently, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been reintroduced to the U.S. One example of its growing acceptance was evidenced by the large numbers of western Olympic athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, accompanied by their attendant acupuncturists. One local licensed acupuncturist and Oriental medical doctor, Lin Pan, began her pracrice, Pan Acupuncture and Herb, in Granite Bay, about three years ago. Pan has practiced acupuncture in both China and the U.S. for more than 19 years. In Granite Bay Pan treats patients for everything from chronic pain to insomnia, using both acupuncture and herbs.

Pan, a summa cum laude graduate of Nanjing University in China, trained in both TCM and Western medicinal techniques. In China, she used TCM treatments in combination with Western medicine.

According to Pan, TCM distinguishes three types of flu: wind cold, wind heat and wind damp, each with its own symptoms and treatments. While two types of flu may have a fever in common, it is possible that one type of flu has sweating, for example, while the other doesn't.

Pan also notes that patientswho come to her office sometimes exhibit flu-like symptoms that may or may not actually be the flu. For example, some patients may have fibromyalgia, characterized by an aching body. Acupuncture literally "pinpoints" the areas of fibromyalgia pain, and is able to significantly reduce them.

"Over-the-counter flu medication in the U.S. is aimed at treating the flu in only one way. TCM distinguishes between types of flu," Pan said.

Thus, if wind cold flu is diagnosed, Pan advises warm foods to aid healing. For example, ginger soup is used when the patient has a wind cold flu—the flu with no sore throat. Herbs are also prescribed.

Referring to centuries-old practices, Pan adds that a pervasive absence of colds and flu in vinegar factories became evident, leading to preventive measures to ward off viral infections. Chinese households intentionally infuse the air with an acidic smell of boiled vinegar. The idea of changing the environment, said Pan, is to make it impossible for the flu virus to survive. The use of astringent air-freshening vinegar has consequently persevered in China, particularly when one person in a household is already suffering from the flu.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development corroborates that the influenza virus depends on cold, dry air to survive.

"That is why the Chinese household opens doors and windows around flu season. It helps ward off potential cases of flu. It's all part of the overall, holistic approach to keeping the body in balance," she said.

Ginger soup recipe


4-5 bunches of green onions
3 pieces of ginger
brown sugar


Cut off white ends, including bulbs and discard green stems of onions. Add white part of onions and 3 ginger pieces to boiling water. Boil for 3-5 minutes. Add a dash of brown sugar. Take liquid out and drink after it boils.


Granite Bay View December 2008

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