The common cold starts as Wind Cold in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), then changes to Wind Heat. If one can get rid of wind cold on the first day, then it will not progress to heat and the symptoms will be greatly reduced. If one catches a cold in the summer, it is called summer heat syndrome.

Wind Cold

Symptoms include chills, scratchy throat, headaches, no sweat, stiff neck, body aches, runny nose or nasal obstruction, coughing, and dislike of cold temperature.

If there is no sweat, then the cold is locked in the skin, and it needs to be sweated out, although not if the patient is emaciated, severely weak or very dry. Sweating can occur by wrapping up in a blanket, exercise, taking a warm bath, drinking a hot tea or taking a sauna. Repeat twice a day. Do not sweat to exhaustion.

Foods that can help

BasilCilantroMustard greens
CatnipCinnamonMustard seed
Cayenne red pepperGarlicParsley
  • Make a soupy rice gruel (called congee) made of 12 g each of ginger and spring onion with 50 – 100 g of unpolished non-glutenous rice or noodles.
  • If there are more chills than fever, eat as little food as possible, drink liquid vegetable and grain soups.
  • When symptoms first appear, hold half of peeled garlic clove between the cheek and teeth for 20 – 30 minutes without chewing. Move it around so it doesn’t burn your mouth. Repeat every 3 hours.

Tea that can help

  • Boil in water for 5 minutes, garlic, ginger, green onions, a basil, mustard or cinnamon
  • Boil 10 g of fresh ginger, water and enough brown sugar to make it palatable
  • Make a tea from cilantro and ginger; scallion and basil; mustard greens, cilantro and green onion; parsnip and ginger; or sage

Wind Heat

Symptoms include thirst, fever, chills, sweating, faintness, nasal obstruction or runny nose, dry mouth, sore throat, cough, yellow or green sputum.

Foods that can help

Bamboo shootsCoconut liquidPlenty of fluid
Beet leavesDandelionSpinach
Bitter endiveMintStrawberry
CabbageMung beansTurnips
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods
  • If there is more fever than chills, drink fruit or vegetable juices or eat fresh fruits

Tea that can help

  • Cabbage broth
  • Make a tea from cilantro and mint; mint; chrysanthemum and dandelion; or mulberry leaf

Summer Heat

Symptoms are dizziness, high fever, no sweating, heavy head and thirst. This only occurs in the summertime.

Foods that can help

Bamboo shootsCeleryMung bean
BananaEgg whitePeppermint
Bitter endiveCoconut liquidWatermelon
Bitter gourd  

Recommendations for all colds

  • Rest, keep warm, drink plenty of warm fluids or water, take 6 –10 g of vitamin C with bioflavonoids a day, 15 – 20 mg of zinc a day, vitamin B-complex, and cod liver oil.
  • To prevent colds, dress warmly and keep your house well ventilated so there isn’t a shock to the body when you go outdoors.
  • Eat soft and liquid foods such as thin porridges, noodles and fresh vegetables.
  • Avoid shellfish, heavy proteins and fats, vinegar, dairy products.
  • Avoid too many raw foods and fruits.