The Common Cold Remedies Chinese Herbal

In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the common cold is caused by an invasion of wind. Both Wind Cold and Wind Heat can bring about what we think of as the common cold, but they have different symptoms and therefore different herbal remedies in Chinese medicine.

Wind Cold and Wind Heat: Symptoms

According to traditional Chinese medicine, Wind Cold causes the following symptoms:

  • chills and sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • cough that produces clear mucus
  • headache, generally with the pain in the back of the head (occipital region)
  • nasal or sinus congestion with clear mucus
  • possibly a fever (This, however, is overshadowed by the chills.)
  • slower than normal pulse
  • stiff neck and shoulders.

With Wind Heat, by contrast, the symptoms can include:

  • dry or non-productive cough, possibly one that produces yellow mucus
  • faster than normal pulse
  • fever
  • headache
  • irritability
  • swollen or sore throat.

In Chinese medicine, your cold remedy will depend on whether your symptoms are caused by Wind Cold or Wind Heat.

Chinese Herbal Remedies: Wind Cold

To treat a cold caused by Wind Cold, Chinese doctors may use a number of remedies, including:

  • a formula called Ephedra Decoction (Ma Huang Tang) that contains cinnamon twig, apricot seeds and licorice
  • a sweating therapy called diaphoretic
  • miso soup.

Ephedra Decoction should not be used if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, and you should never exceed the recommended dosage. Ephedra on its own is very dangerous and should never be used separate from the formula.

Chinese Herbal Remedies: Wind Heat

Several different remedies exist in Chinese herbal medicine to treat colds caused by Wind Heat, including Yin Qiao San and Gan Mao Ling:

  • Yin Qiao San: In addition to using Yin Qiao San to treat the common cold caused by Wind Heat, Chinese doctors will also use this herbal remedy for tonsillitis and influenza. It’s a popular formula throughout China and is often simply called “cold and flu formula.” Yin Qiao San includes the following ingredients:
    • arctium (Niu Bang Zi)
    • bamboo leaf (Dan Zhu Ye)
    • forsythia (Lian Qiao)
    • honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua)
    • licorice (Gan Cao)
    • mint (Bo He)
    • platycodon (Jie Geng)
    • schizonepeta (Jing Jie)
    • soy Bean (Dan Dou Gu).
  • Gan Mao Ling: This traditional herbal remedy is believed to cure all types of colds, no matter if they are caused by Wind Cold or Wind Heat. It can be used to prevent the common cold or to help relieve cold symptoms. Gan Mao Ling is one of the more popular of Chinese herbal remedies. Many believe that when taken at the first sign of a cold, a few doses of Gan Mao Ling can, in many cases, relieve all cold symptoms. Some state that it works equally well against full-blown colds.

In addition to herbal remedies, Chinese doctors also recommend the following for colds caused by Wind Heat:

  • avoiding any source of stress
  • avoiding sweets and stimulants like caffeine
  • nutritious soups and fresh juices
  • plenty of rest.

Before Using Chinese Remedies

Many people stand by Chinese herbal remedies as effective cold remedies. However, before taking any herbal supplement, it is always best to have a discussion with your doctor, especially if you have a health condition or are taking any medications. Your doctor will be able to tell you about the possible side effects and drug interactions associated with herbal remedies.

Resources (n.d.) Chinese Medicine for Cold. Retrieved November 20, 2007 from the Holistic Online Web site:

Schoenbart, Bill, and Shefi, Ellen (n.d.) Traditional Chinese Medicine for Coughs, Colds, Flu, and Allergies. Retrieved November 20, 2007 from the How Stuff Works Web site:

Wei Liu and Changzhen Gong (n.d.) Defeating Cold and flu with Chinese Medicine. Retrieved November 20, 2007 from the Traditional Chinese Medicine Information Page Web site: