Traditional Chinese Medicine for Coughs, Colds, Flu, and Allergies

Traditional Chinese medicine uses herbs to treat the common cold, the flu, coughs, and allergies. Just as many Americans turn to over-the-counter medications for these ailments, people in China turn to herbal formulas, many of which are based on traditional formulas that have been in use for more than two thousand years.

This article describes traditional Chinese patent medicines that are formulated to relieve cough, cold, flu, and allergy symptoms. Patent medicines are an inexpensive and convenient way to administer Chinese medicinal herbs. Most of the medicines come in the form of easy-to-swallow, tiny round pills (wan) or tablets (pian), but syrups and teas are also used.

The first traditional Chinese medicine we'll discuss treats a condition most of us have experienced: nasal congestion and runny nose due to allergies or the common cold. Continue to the next section for detailed information.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Nose Inflammation Pills

Chinese nose inflammation pills are an effective herbal remedy for nasal congestion, runny nose, and cold and allergy symptoms.

Chinese name: Bi Yan Pian (bee yahn pyen)

Also known as: Nose Inflammation Pills

Indications

Acute or chronic nasal congestion, allergies, runny nose due to common cold

Functions

Dispels wind cold or wind heat, clears the nasal passages

Description

Bi Yan Pian is one of the more popular over-the-counter medicines. It is highly effective for nasal or sinus congestion as in the common cold, allergies, rhinitis, and sinusitis. The major herbal decongestants in this formula are magnolia flower (xin yi hua), Angelica dahurica (bai zhi), and Xanthium (cang er zi). These three herbs are effective individually, but their synergistic effect upon the nasal passages and sinuses is nothing short of remarkable.

After prescribing this remedy dozens of times over the years, the only side effect one experienced practitioner has seen is some dryness in the mouth and throat. This occurred in only two cases, and it was alleviated by decreasing the dose.

This example points to the need for assessing each case and prescribing an herbal remedy based on the individual's constitution. The individuals who experienced excessive dryness both had an underlying yin deficiency, which means that their body's ability to maintain a moist environment was impaired. Herbs that have a drying nature, as in this formula, tend to push that imbalance even further.

Bi Yan Pian can be used for sinus infections; it contains heat-clearing herbs such as Phellodendron (huang bai), forsythia (lian qiao), Anemarrhena (zhi mu), and wild chrysanthemum (ye ju hua). When treating an infection, it is best to be as aggressive as possible, since it can quickly progress to a more serious condition. For this reason, this patent formula is often combined with one that focuses more on clearing infections such as Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic pills.

In addition, when treating any infection with herbs, it is essential to begin taking the herbs as early as possible, take them regularly until the infection is gone, and then continue them for a day or two after the symptoms are gone. This last step is important because if treatment is discontinued early, it is possible to kill off enough bacteria to alleviate symptoms while still leaving enough behind to multiply again. Once an infection has been partially cleared with herbs and allowed to come back, it is much more difficult to clear it with the same herbs in a second round of treatment.

Until recently, the disadvantage of using Bi Yan Pian has been the presence of artificial dyes in the tablet coating. Some of the batches also contained traces of Western over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. This disturbing issue has been resolved in the Plum Flower line of patent medicines. This product line is manufactured without any artificial colors, Western drugs, or adulterants. Eventually, most of the popular remedies will be available through Plum Flower.

Manufacturer: Plum Flower

Dosage: 3 to 4 pills, three times a day. Do not exceed the recommended dosage because this formula contains Xanthium, which is slightly toxic.

In the next section, learn about a soothing herbal cough syrup with a traditional Chinese formulation.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Cough Syrup

Those suffering from a dry cough can benefit from this traditional Chinese cough syrup, which moistens the lungs and helps loosen phlegm.

Chinese name: Chuan Bei Pi Pa Gao (chwahn bay pee pah gow)

Also known as: Fritillaria Loquat Syrup

Indications

Cough due to lung heat or dryness, with phlegm that is difficult to expectorate; a dry cough with no or little phlegm

Functions

Clears lung heat, moistens the lungs, stops coughing

Description

This soothing syrup is appropriate in cases of lung dryness that is due to wind heat, common colds, or smoking. Its chief ingredients are Fritillaria (bei mu) and loquat leaf (pi pa ye). Loquat leaf is especially useful for a heat-type cough, which is a cough with sticky phlegm that is difficult to expectorate. Loquat leaf comes from the same tree that produces the small delicious loquat fruits (Eriobotrya japonica).

Fritillaria, the other chief ingredient, is an expectorant that is moistening to the lungs, an important action when a cough is nonproductive.

Manufacturer: Nin Jom Manufactory

Dosage: 1 tablespoon, three times a day

In the next section, get the facts about a traditional Chinese medicine that treats inflammation, swollen glands, and both bacterial and viral infections.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Anti-inflammatory Tablets

Traditional Chinese anti-inflammatory tablets have a combination of three herbs that makes a potent antibacterial and antiviral medicine.

Chinese name: Chuan Xin Lian (chwahn shin lyahn) Antiphlogistic Tablets

Also known as: Andrographis Anti-inflammatory Tablets

Indications

Inflammation due to excess heat, swollen glands, severe sore throat, viral infections, bacterial infections

Functions

Clears heat, clears toxins, cools the blood, reduces inflammation

Description

This powerful antibacterial and antiviral formula contains just three herbs: Andrographis leaf, Isatis root, and Taraxacum root (dandelion). The combination of these ingredients produces a pronounced cooling effect on toxic heat throughout the body. Some of the bacterial infections this patent medicine treats are acute sore throat, swollen glands, lung abscess, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and dysentery. It can also be used for viral infections such as influenza and hepatitis.

The chief ingredient, Andrographis paniculata (chuan xin lian), has been shown to inhibit the Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Shigella organisms that can cause various infections. It is extremely bitter -- its name in Chinese translates to "pierce the heart lotus," meaning it is so bitter, its flavor "pierces the heart."

One herbalist recalls that while working in a Chinese herbal pharmacy some years ago, he noticed an extremely bitter taste in his mouth. When he turned around, he saw that a teacher had opened the drawer containing the Andrographis, 20 feet from where he was standing! Because of its bitterness, Andrographis is usually taken in pill form.

The second ingredient, Isatis tinctoria (ban lang gen), also has antiviral and antibacterial actions. Its broad antimicrobial effect has been shown to inhibit the bacteria that cause dysentery, salmonella, strep infection, and typhoid. Isatis has strong antiviral action against hepatitis and encephalitis. This is highly significant, since Western medicine has virtually no weapons against viral infections.

The third ingredient is the much-maligned dandelion (pu gong ying), a major medicine in both Western and Chinese herbalism. Traditionally used for breast abscesses, jaundice, and urinary tract infections, dandelion has impressive antibacterial effects against the pathogens that cause strep throat, pneumonia, dysentery, meningitis, diphtheria, and tuberculosis -- all from a plant that is relentlessly sprayed with herbicides by the unsuspecting suburban homeowner!

Manufacturer: United Pharmaceutical Manufactory

Dosage: 3 to 6 pills, three times a day

Green tea's antioxidant properties have made headlines in recent years. Next, read about a powerful Chinese cold medicine designed to be taken with green tea.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Green Tea Pills

Chinese green tea pills contain a combination of medicinal herbs, whose healing properties are enhanced when taken with green tea. This formulation is commonly used to treat headaches and nasal congestion.

Chinese name: Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan (chwahn shuhng chah tyow wahn)

Also known as: Ligusticum and Green Tea Pills

Indications

Headache and nasal congestion due to wind cold

Functions

Relieves headache and expels wind cold

Description

This remedy is specifically indicated for a headache along with wind cold symptoms of the common cold, such as stiff neck and shoulders, nasal congestion, a desire for warmth, and a slower than normal pulse. It is meant to be taken along with green tea, which helps maximize the healing action of the other herbs.

Recent research has shown that green tea also has strong antioxidant properties, meaning it helps break down free radicals, substances involved in the aging and disease processes.

The chief herb in the formula is Ligusticum wallichii (chuan xiong), a highly aromatic plant with strong circulatory properties. A strong analgesic (pain reliever), it relieves the headaches that occur with a cold, and it is used in many herbal formulas to direct the formula's action to the head.

Another ingredient is Notopterygium root, a fragrant herb that releases tension in the muscles of the shoulders and neck. Since the trapezius muscles extend from the upper back to the neck and head, tightness in that muscle group can lead to an occipital headache (the back of the head at the base of the skull).

The inclusion of Angelica dahurica root (bai zhi) has the dual function of clearing sinus and nasal congestion and relieving the pain of frontal headaches (pain in the forehead). Wild ginger (xi xin) is another analgesic herb in the formula that acts as a decongestant. Its North American relative grows in the coastal redwood forests of California; when chewed, its gingery flavor quickly numbs the tongue, demonstrating its ability to act as a local anesthetic.

Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan is also useful in dizziness and loss of balance due to labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the inner ear, a very uncomfortable condition that can follow a viral or bacterial infection. This patent's ability to increase circulation to the head helps facilitate healing in this ailment, for which there is no conventional treatment.

Since it is very warming, this remedy should not be used for headaches due to wind heat with symptoms such as sore throat, fever, and a faster than normal pulse or headaches due to liver heat rising to the head with its symptoms of rapid pulse, red face, and anger. It should also not be used when the headache is caused by a deficiency condition such as deficient qi, deficient blood, or deficient yin.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

Did you know that aged citrus peel, especially aged tangerine peel, works as an expectorant and helps digestion? In the next section, we'll tell you about a Chinese cough medicine that includes this amazing ingredient.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Two Old-Medicine Pills

The herbs in Chinese Two Old-Medicine Pills become more effective with age. Together, they work wonders on a cough with excessive phlegm.

Chinese name: Er Chen Wan (uhr chen wahn)

Also known as: Two Old-Medicine Pills

Indications

Excessive phlegm in the lungs and stomach with nausea, cough with abundant clear mucus

Functions

Regulates qi, reduces phlegm and dampness, harmonizes the stomach

Description

The two "old medicines" referred to in the name are aged citrus peel (chen pi) and Pinellia tuber (ban xia). The quality of these herbs is considered to improve with age. In fact, Pinellia is considered toxic until it is aged and treated with ginger.

Citrus peel, the other chief ingredient, is a delightful medicinal with a sweet fragrance that is especially pronounced in the high-quality aged tangerine peels. Before you throw away the peel on a citrus fruit, you should know that citrus peel acts as an expectorant; increases secretion of gastric juices, which aids digestion; and has antibacterial effects.

This patent formula is indicated for a damp phlegm cough, which is associated with expectoration of copious amounts of clear or light-colored phlegm. In addition to their drying, expectorant activity, the two chief herbs in the formula alleviate the vomiting and nausea that sometimes accompany this condition.

If the cough is due to the common cold, take this patent along with a formula such as Gan Mao Ling that helps eliminate the pathogen that caused the cold.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

There are many Chinese herbal medicines for cough, sore throat, and other cold symptoms. Continue reading to learn about one of the most popular -- Gan Mao Ling.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Cold Formula

Traditional Chinese Cold Formula works incredibly well at the start of a cold, and just as well after cold symptoms have become more severe. It can also be used to prevent a cold.

Chinese name: Gan Mao Ling (gahn mao ling)

Also known as: Cold Formula

Indications

Cold or flu due to either wind heat or wind cold with fever, mild chills, sore throat, and stiff neck

Functions

Expels wind, clears heat, expels viruses

Description

Its extraordinary effectiveness makes Gan Mao Ling an extremely popular patent. You can use it to prevent a cold when you've been exposed to someone with a cold or to clear a cold or flu when it has already taken hold. In many cases, a few doses of Gan Mao Ling at the first sign of cold symptoms completely alleviates all symptoms, but it is also frequently all that is needed to relieve full-blown cold symptoms. It is an excellent base formula since it is effective in both cold and heat illnesses.

If symptoms include nasal and sinus congestion, the formula can be taken with Bi Yan Pian. If a sore throat occurs along with the cold, it can be taken with Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic Pills. If there is accompanying nausea or diarrhea, Curing Pills or Lophanthus Antifebrile (Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan) can be added.

This is another patent remedy that has been adulterated in the past with artificial coloring and Western pharmaceuticals. Plum Flower brand makes this important medicine available in a pure, unadulterated form. It is one of the essential patents for a first-aid kit. Manufacturer: Plum Flower

Dosage: 3 to 6 pills, three times a day; to prevent a cold after exposure to someone with cold symptoms, take 2 tablets, three times a day for three days.

A cup of hot tea can be very soothing for cold sufferers. Next, we'll give you the details on a fruity instant tea used in Chinese medicine to relieve coughing.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Fruity Instant Tea

This Traditional Chinese Fruity Instant Tea is sweet, making it a perfect cough remedy for children.

Chinese name: Lo Han Kuo Infusion, Luo Han Guo Chong Ji (law hahn gwaw chung jee)

Also known as: Momordica Fruit Instant Tea

Indications

Cough due to lung heat or lung dryness, perhaps accompanied by sticky or bloody phlegm

Functions

Clears lung heat, moistens the lungs, stops cough

Description

Luo Han Guo ("smiling Buddha fruit") is the active ingredient in this instant tea. This exotic fruit is round with a brittle, egglike shell, which, when cracked open, reveals a clump of sweet seeds. The overall action of the fruit is nourishing and moistening, making it ideal for dryness in the lungs with an unproductive cough. This patent comes in the form of cubes that dissolve in water to make a pleasant-tasting tea. The formula's sweet taste makes it especially popular with children.

Manufacturer: Luo Han Guo Products Manufactory

Dosage: one cube dissolved in one cup of boiling water, two to three times a day

Another traditional Chinese medicine for coughs is outlined in the next section of this article. Read on to learn about Ephedra Apricot Stop Cough Tablets.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Ephedra Apricot Stop Cough Tablets

Traditional Chinese Ephedra Apricot Stop Cough Tablets are powerful herbal pills that treat not only cough, but bronchitis and mild asthma, too.

Chinese name: Ma Hsing Chih Ke Pien (mah shing jih keh pyen)

Also known as: Ephedra Apricot Stop Cough Tablets

Indications

Cough, bronchitis, or asthma due to heat

Functions

Clears lung heat, relieves asthma, stops cough

Description

Although this formula is used mostly to treat bronchitis with yellow phlegm due to heat, it is also quite effective in mild cases of asthma. The continual increase in the number of Americans with asthma could be due to such causes as air pollution, chemical exposure, or increased stress. Many people with asthma rely on chemical inhalers throughout the day, and some are forced to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms on a regular basis for acute asthma attacks.

Herbal medicine is quite effective in treating asthma. The results of herbal therapy range from a complete remission of the disease to a much less frequent use of inhalers.

The word ma in this formula's name refers to ma huang, or Ephedra sinica. This powerful herb contains ephedrine, a strong stimulant that dilates (widens) the bronchial tubes. During an asthma attack, the bronchial tubes narrow, causing a severe restriction in air flow. Inhalers open the passages to enable the person to breathe; Ephedra also handles the job well.

When used properly, Ephedra is quite safe. Unfortunately, some products on the market exploit Ephedra as a stimulant for weight loss or recreational use, and deaths have occurred from overdoses of products that mix high levels of ephedrine and caffeine. This is a gross misuse of an important medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into the sale of these products; some states have already banned products containing high levels of ephedrine.

Reputable, qualified practitioners in the United States hope the irresponsible actions of some manufacturers won't cause the removal of this valuable drug from the marketplace.

Ma Hsing Chih Ke Pien can also be used for cough due to heat, with sore throat, dry loud cough, or swollen glands. When used for chronic asthma, it is best to combine it with Ping Chuan Pills, which also contain herbs that tone and strengthen the lungs.

In a clinical trial in China, the bulk version of this formula was given to 40 children with asthma. All of them experienced temporary relief; out of the 19 who had chronic asthma, only two children experienced relapses up to six months later.

Warning: Ephedra can raise blood pressure and should not be taken by people with high blood pressure, heart disease, a history of stroke, or a sensitivity to caffeine. Some people experience insomnia if they take the remedy too close to bedtime. Do not exceed recommended dosages.

Asthma is a life-threatening condition for many people. While herbal medicine can greatly help in its treatment, be sure to keep an inhaler available for emergencies, even if it seems that you no longer need it.

Manufacturer: Siping Pharmaceutical Works

Dosage: 4 pills, two to three times a day

Colds, ear infections, even malaria -- there is one Chinese medicine that treats them all. Learn about this remarkable herbal treatment next.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Minor Bupleurum Pills

Traditional Chinese Minor Bupleurum Pills have been found to stimulate the immune system, regulate the liver, treat digestive problems, relieve cold symptoms, and more.

Chinese name: Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan (show cheye hoo tahng wahn)

Also known as: Minor Bupleurum

Indications

Frequent colds and ear infections, colds with alternating fever and chills, malaria

Functions

Harmonizes the interior and exterior of the body, regulates the liver

Description

This patent fits easily in a number of formula categories. In Japan, where herbal formulas from China have become exceptionally popular over the past 20 years, Minor Bupleurum is the formula most frequently prescribed by medical doctors. It is used to stimulate the immune system, to treat hepatitis, and to protect against the side effects of radiation therapy. It has antiallergy activities and is also used to treat prolonged flu and colds as well as chronic digestion problems.

Take the case of a man who had just returned from traveling in Indonesia. He was experiencing a headache and extreme weakness, with chills, fever, and sweats. From a Western diagnostic perspective, he was exhibiting all the classic signs of malaria; from the traditional Chinese point of view, he was experiencing a shao yang condition, a clear indicator for Minor Bupleurum. Since this was a serious illness, he was given the formula in the form of a decoction, three times a day.

After three days, his symptoms completely disappeared. About three months later, the symptoms appeared again in a very mild form. He took the patent remedy at a dosage of 16 pills, three times a day, and the symptoms subsided again. One year later, there had been no recurrence of the malaria. Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

In Chinese medicine, there is a specific treatment that targets coughs accompanied by yellow or green phlegm. Read on for a detailed description of this medicine.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Expectorant Pills

A cough with yellow or green mucus usually signal an oncoming infection. Traditional Chinese Expectorant Pills are formulated to eliminate mucus from the lungs and prevent infection.

Chinese name: Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan (ching chee hwah tahn wahn)

Also known as: Pinellia Expectorant Pills; Clear Lung, Expel Phlegm Pills

Indications

Cough due to heat, with yellow or green phlegm that is difficult to expectorate

Functions

Clears lung heat, expels phlegm, stops cough

Description

This is a standard remedy for coughs due to heat phlegm, a type of cough that occurs with heat signs, especially noted by the color of the mucus. Yellow or green phlegm that is difficult to expectorate indicates a hot phlegm condition. It is essential to use cooling, moistening expectorants to dislodge the phlegm and eliminate it from the lungs, otherwise a serious infection could develop.

Originally, the pathogen (the cause of the infection, or "evil qi" in traditional terminology) is often a virus. If the person's immune system fails to repel the invader, a cold or flu results. In the course of the illness, the lungs often begin secreting large amounts of mucus. If expectorants are not employed at this point, the mucus can build up in the lungs, providing a fertile feeding ground for bacteria, resulting in an opportunistic infection (an infection that results when the immune system is weakened).

If green phlegm, indicating infection, is present, Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic Pills should also be taken (3 to 6 pills, three times a day). When the mucus starts getting lighter in color and the individual is able to cough it up without difficulty, the herbs are working. As in all infections, prompt qualified medical attention is essential if symptoms worsen.

In addition to herbal therapy, diet is essential in cases such as this. Sweets should be avoided, as they increase phlegm production as well as feed the infection. Light vegetable soups are easy to digest and help clear mucus, assisting the herbal formula. Do not use Pinellia Expectorant Pills for coughs due to wind cold.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

Next, learn about Traditional Chinese Asthma Relief Pills, a remedy designed to relieve asthma and strengthen the lungs.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Asthma Relief Pills

Traditional Chinese Asthma Relief pills are just one of several herbal medicines that effectively treat asthma symptoms. This formulation also strengthens the lungs and the immune system.

Chinese name: Ping Chuan (ping chwahn) Pills

Also known as: Relieve Asthma Pills

Indications

Chronic asthma and shortness of breath due to qi deficiency; symptoms often get worse after exertion or in the presence of a common cold

Functions

Tonifies lung and kidney qi, stops coughing, reduces phlegm

Description

This remedy is a combination of herbs with dual functions: Not only does the formula clear phlegm and calm asthma, its tonifying herbs strengthen the lungs and make them less susceptible to attacks in the future. One of the tonic herbs is Codonopsis (dang shen), used traditionally to strengthen the lungs and spleen (which is associated with digestive function in traditional Chinese medicine).

Modern research has shown Codonopsis to have immune-system-strengthening properties: Its constituents stimulate the immune system and promote the production of interferon, which fights viruses and regulates the immune system. Another tonic ingredient is gecko lizard (ge jie), which strengthens the immune system.

Cordyceps, another tonifying herb with dual functions, builds vitality and aids in the dilation (widening) of the bronchial tubes to improve breathing and help clear phlegm. The Chinese name of Cordyceps, dong chong xia cao, means "winter insect, summer herb." Its unusual name derives from the fact that it is a summer fungus that grows on the body of a caterpillar that died in the winter.

This seemingly bizarre substance has a powerful ability to increase overall vitality. Some years ago, the Chinese women's Olympic team broke a number of swimming records; officials suspected steroid use, but all the athletes tested negative. It turns out that they were using the Cordyceps fungus to enhance their performance! Manufacturer: Sing-Kyn Drug House

Dosage: 10 pills, three times a day

If your symptoms include sore throat, fever, and headache, consider the Chinese herbal medicine described in the next section of this article.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Clear-Toxin Tablets

Traditional Chinese Clear-Toxin Tablets are most effective when taken at the first sign of flu symptoms like sore throat, fever, and headache. Fortunately, this popular medicine also provides relief for full-blown flu.

Chinese name: Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian (yin chow jyeh doo pyen)

Also known as: Honeysuckle and Forsythia Clear-Toxin Tablets

Indications

Acute symptoms of wind heat -- sore throat, fever, headache

Functions

Expels wind heat, clears heat and toxins

Description

Along with Gan Mao Ling, this is one of the most popular Chinese patent medicines. It is highly effective in clearing wind heat types of cold or flu, for which sore throat is the cardinal symptom. Other symptoms could be fever, intolerance for wind and cold temperatures, headache, thirst, and cough.

Although most effective when taken at the onset of symptoms, this formula can also be taken during full-blown flu symptoms. Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian can also be used for pneumonia, bronchitis, tonsillitis, measles, mumps, and inner ear infections.

Classical formulas often have their chief ingredients as part of their name. The word yin, meaning silver, comes from the Chinese name for honeysuckle (jin yin hua, or gold and silver flower). The word Qiao comes from the Chinese name for forsythia (lian qiao).

Honeysuckle and forsythia are often used together due to their synergistic antimicrobial effect. Clinical research shows that honeysuckle flowers and forsythia fruit inhibit the bacteria that cause pneumonia, strep throat, staphylococcal infections, salmonella, and tuberculosis. They have both been used traditionally for thousands of years to clear fire toxins, which include a hot, painful, swollen throat; boils; fevers; and urinary tract infections.

Another ingredient in Yin Qiao is Schizonepeta flowers (jing jie). The profuse purple flower spikes are highly aromatic, giving the herb a dispersing quality. When the body is first attacked by a pathogen, the most effective way to repel the invader is through the use of aromatic herbs that disperse their energy to the exterior of the body. The highly volatile essential oils open up the pores in the skin and act as a diaphoretic (induces sweating). If the pathogen has not penetrated to the interior of the body, this dispersing effect drives the pathogen out.

Although it is warm by nature, Schizonepeta is effective in heat conditions when it is combined with cold herbs, as it is in this formula.

Manufacturer: Tianjin; Plum Flower. Some brands of Yin Qiao contain caffeine and over-the-counter drugs. Read the label, and make sure the patent does not contain caffeine, paracetamolum, or chlorpheniraminum.

Dosage: 4 tablets, three times a day. This remedy is for acute ailments only; do not take it for more than a few days.

Continue to the next section to learn about another traditional Chinese remedy that is popular during flu season.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Serious Cold Remedy

Traditional Chinese Serious Cold Remedy provides relief for high fever, the flu, pneumonia, and more by eliminating heat and toxins from the body.

Chinese name: Zhong Gan Ling (jung gahn ling)

Also known as: Serious Cold Remedy

Indications

Wind heat flu-like symptoms -- high fever, sore throat

Functions

Expels wind heat, clears heat and toxins

Description

Although similar to Gan Mao Ling, Zhong Gan Ling focuses more on heat conditions. It contains gypsum (shi gao), a mineral used to clear high fevers, and Isatis (ban lang gen), a powerful antibacterial and antiviral herb, which has proved effective in treating influenza, pneumonia, meningitis, mumps, and swollen, painful throat.

Another ingredient in the formula is Pueraria root (ge gen), commonly known as kudzu. (This root is often used in Asian cooking as a thickening agent in sauces.) As a component of Zhong Gan Ling, kudzu has the effect of relaxing tight stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders, a common symptom of external conditions. (As a side note, recent research has shown that an extract of kudzu reduces cravings for alcohol, helping alcoholics to reduce their consumption of alcohol by 50 percent.)

It is synergistic with Notopterygium (qiang huo), another ingredient that is effective in relieving pain in the upper body due to colds or flu.

Manufacturer: Plum Flower. It is important to use this brand only; the Meizhou brand contains Western pharmaceuticals.

Dosage: 4 to 6 pills, three times a day

Many of the traditional Chinese medicines described in this article have been used to treat cold and cough symptoms for thousands of years. The next time you suffer from symptoms like cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, or congestion, consider one of these time-tested herbal medicinals.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Bill Schoenbart is licensed in both herbal medicine and acupuncture and has an M.A. in Chinese medicine. He is editor of The Way of Chinese Herbs and Biomagnetic and Herbal Therapy.

Ellen Shefi is a licensed massage technician, licensed acupuncturist, and registered dietician. She is a member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Herb Association, and the Oregon Acupuncture Association.