The Common Cold
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The Common Cold

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Please note: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for your doctor’s recommendations.

Chinese Medicine does not recognize the diagnosis of the “common cold.” Why? Because everyone is an individual and therefore not “common”! Chinese Medicine views symptoms in terms of patterns. In the case of the “common cold” you can have any one or a combination of any number of patterns.

I should mention that we do believe in germs… However, keep in mind that this medicine is thousands of years old and they did not. The reason why practitioners of Chinese Medicine continue to treat based off of these patterns is because they work!

Wind Cold


  • Wind Cold invades via the pores of the skin and the nose
  • Lung Qi and Wei Qi (the immune system) are not working properly which has left the pores of the skin open, weakening the Wei Qi’s defensive action
  • Exposure to cold wind while the pores are open (i.e. sweating)

Symptoms: Itching or tickling of the throat, cough with expectoration of thin (watery or frothy white sputum), chills with low grade fever, No sweating, No thirst, headache, aversion to wind, blocked/runny nose (clear thin watery discharge), sneezing, general body aches

Beneficial Foods: Miso soup at first symptoms, warm and hot foods, green onions, coriander, hot water, aniseed, chili, ginger, garlic, pepper, rosemary, thyme (loosens phlegm, disinfects), cinnamon, grapefruit seed extract (at first signs)

Avoid: Raw and cold foods, grains, diary products (they can produce phlegm)

Wind Heat


  • Same as Wind Cold
  • Exposure to wind heat while the pores are open

Symptoms: Fever prominent, thick yellow nasal discharge, sore throat, cough with thick yellow sticky sputum, desire to drink, fever with perspiration w/o resolution, slight chills, aversion to wind, headache, sl. wheeze, possible chest tightness

Beneficial: Pears, watermelon, Chinese cabbage, mung beans, radish, black soybeans, dandelion, pear juice (for dryness, sore throat, phlegm, green tea, peppermint tea, chrysanthemum tea

Avoid: Spicy foods, wheat, dairy products

Wind Dryness


  • Wind Dryness is normally seen in Autumn, in the form of dry weather or other environmental dryness

Symptoms: Dry cough with little or no sputum (possible blood), sputum is difficult to expectorate, hoarse voice, dry lips and mouth, thirst, dryness in nose, headaches, thirst, dry skin and hair, constipation

Beneficial foods: see Wind heat

Wind Cold + Phlegm damp


  • Usually this condition is a combination of new symptoms and pre-existing.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Chronic spleen deficiency (deficiency of the digestive system), Lung deficiency (leads to failure of the lungs to make fluids descend & disperse cause fluid accumulation and phlegm/damp)
  • New symptoms Wind cold

Symptoms: Cough with copious, thin white, frothy sputum, chest congestion with full feeling, shortness of breath (especially while lying down).

Beneficial foods: see Wind cold and phelgm

Phlegm Heat


  • Wind-heat
  • Wind cold turning to heat

Symptoms: Cough with expectorations of copious thick, yellow-green sputum or blood-flecked, foul-smelling pus (as in lung abscess), shortness of breath, asthma, pain in the ribs, maybe chills & fever. See Doctor at any signs of pus or blood!

Reference book: Pitchford, P., Healing With Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books, 2002, pp.68,70

Would you like to learn more?

Dietary Recommendations for the Lung

Your Immune System and TCM 

About the author

Teri Calandra

Teri Calandra Dipl.Acu, MSTOM, L.Ac., LMT, RMT

Teri began her studies in energy medicine as part of her own personal development journey, and continues to to learn and integrate that knowledge into her practice. Teri is the founding practitioner of Calandra Center for Health & Wellness in Schaumburg, Illinois. She is licensed by the State of Illinois in acupuncture (L.Ac.), and board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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