|Brian B. Carter, MS, LAc|
They will help you save hours of frustrating, wasted searching, and let you zero in on the best material on this subject - like this article you're reading. Go on... Antibiotic overuse (especially for the common cold) has led to antibiotic resistance. Natural antibiotics and anti viral herbs that may boost immune system are discussed, plus the types of cold and flu, and cough and cold in a weak immune system.
Most people don't realize that western biomedical understanding didn't include the immune system until very recently. The first vaccine was developed in the late 1800's, and most of the immune system was not understood until the 1960's. Oriental Medicine has been diagnosing and treating immune system diseases with herbs since as early as 150
A.D. when the first systematic book on externally contracted illnesses, the "Cold Damage Classic" was written.
Medical professionals are now concerned about antibiotic-resistant 'superbacteria.' These superbacteria have evolved because of inappropriate medical prescriptions. Antibiotics are effective only against bacteria, not against viruses. MD's and DO's often prescribed antibiotics to pacify patients who refused to leave the doctor's office without them - even when the doctor knew the antibiotic would not help. The problem is that we are running out of antibiotic drugs; there is a finite number of them. It is thought that, in the future, the more complex treatment agents such as natural herbs may be our only defense.
Chinese herbs have successfully treated and caused remission of viral hepatitis and AIDS. In clinical research studies on human beings, at least 15 herbs have been shown to stimulate the immune system and destroy viruses and bacteria (see next table). Chinese herbs appear to have an effect against bacteria and viruses directly, and they stimulate and strengthen the immune system (wei qi) in doing its job of ridding the body of pathogens.
15 Anti-Viral Chinese Herbs Proven Effective in Human Studies
1. Andrographis (Chuan xin lian): Viral hepatitis, encephalitis B, herpes zoster, viral influenza
2. Astragalus (Huang qi): Restores immune function in immune suppression from chemotherapy, increases IgA, IgG, and interferon production
3. Deer antler (Lu rong): Promotes lymphocyte transformation and treats leukopenia due to chronic benzene poisoning, promotes bone marrow function
4. Ganoderma (Ling zhi): Treats hepatitis, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, altitude sickness, cancer (especially leukemia)
5. Ginseng Ren shen: Increases resistance by stimulating adrenal gland via pituitary
6. Isatis (Da qing ye, Ban lan gen): Encephalitis B, measles, mumps, infectious hepatitis, URTI
7. Licorice (Gan cao): In pulmonary TB, it increased ESR - arthritis and hepatomegaly from hepatitis - acute and chronic hepatitis
8. Lonicera (Jin yin hua): Severe acute pneumonia, bacillary dysntery
9. Oldenlandia (Bai hua she she cao): Peritonitis, UTI, hepatitis, chronic bronchitis
10. Phellodendron (Huang bai): Meningitis, dysentery, GI infection, conjunctivitis, UTI, candidal/trichomonal vaginitis
11. Polygonum (He shou wu): Malaria
Polygonum cuspidatum (Hu zhang): Lung infections, tonsillitis, hepatitis, RA, osteoarthritis
12. Salvia (Dan shen): Hepatitis, SLE
13. Siberian ginseng (Wu jia pi): Xue and qi xu - improves leukocyte count in 70% of leukopenic patients - caution when there is heat
14. Sophora (Shan dou gen): Alkaloids effective in countering leukopenia due to radiation
15. Viola (Zi hua di ding): TB
Oriental Medicine Concepts of Immunity
Wei (pronounced 'way') qi ('chee') is the protective qi. This qi is thought to circulate in the more superficial levels (skin and muscles). In biomedical terms, it is probably not the entire immune system, but the part of it that deals with external invasions. Protective qi is controlled by Lung organ-system, and can be compromised by overwork, grief, smoking, not eating, and talking too much.
Vulnerability occurs particularly when you are tired, or from excessive environmental influences like cold, heat, dryness, and dampness- each of these is associated with a season when that pathogen is more prevalent
Entrance of the pathogen
The Lung (a system of correspondences including the lung, throat, nose, and skin) is the most exterior and most vulnerable organ. Sweating opens the pores, and 'wind' enters through pores. Wind can be thought of as the pathogen itself, since another quality (cold, damp, or heat, for example) is usually attached to describe the pathogen. Wind-heat, then, is the invasion of the body by a heat pathogen.
Types of Colds and Flu in Oriental Medicine
* Symptoms: Feeling of cold, chills more than fever, cough, congestion, fatigue
* Herb Formulas: if no sweating - Ephedra Formula; if more body aches - Kudzu Tincture
* Kitchen Medicine: Fresh ginger or garlic tea (warming)
* Symptoms: Feeling of heat, fever more than chills, sore throat or cough, body aches, red eyes, irritability
* Herb Formulas: More sore throat - Honeysuckle & Forsythia Formula; More cough - Mulberry & Chrysanthemum Formula
* Kitchen Medicine: Mint or chysanthemum tea (cooling)
Sweating (or 'exterior-releasing') is a major therapy in OM. The type of invasion may be identified by whether or not the patient is sweating, and whether or not that sweating is leading to improvement in your health
Fever is thought to be the 'heat of battle' between pathogenic and righteous qi. In OM, you have a fever if you feel hot, even if your thermometer shows a normal body temperature. Chills are a sign that the pathogen is winning, while fever is a sign that your body is winning.
Tiredness, Qi deficiency, & Weakness
The fight may take so much of your energy that you can do nothing but lay in bed. You may also lose your appetite, which is a sign of qi deficiency in OM. Some people are more constitutionally weaker from birth, especially those with childhood asthma and allergies. These are often metal or water type people. They need to be especially vigilant in prevention.
These OM disease theories are not without controversy; some biomedical research has concluded that cold temperatures, for example, do not contribute to getting sick. However, since biomedicine only became aware of the immune system in the 1960's, and OM has been treating colds and flu's for thousands of years, I would slightly favor the application of OM. It is true that OM's theories may be inexact at the same time that the treatments is applies according to those theories are effective. In another thousand years, once biomedical researchers and OM practitioners have tested and sifted through OM theories and treatments, we will have a stronger, more accurate, and integrated medical system.
About the Author
Acupuncturist, herbalist, and medical professor Brian B. Carter founded the alternative health megasite The Pulse of Oriental Medicine (http://www.PulseMed.org/). He is the author of the book "Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure" (November, 2004). Brian speaks on radio across the country, and has been quoted and interviewed by Real Simple, Glamour, and ESPN magazines.