Chinese Herbs for Colds Picayune MS

By Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, lac Q I have heard that Chinese herbs are effective for treating and preventing the common cold. What products do you recommend, and where can I find them? Are they safe? A Chinese herbs are remarkable for treating the common cold, as well as a large array of viral infections. In the Chinese pharmacopeia, 40 herbs have been identified as having a strong anti-viral effe...

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Chinese Herbs for Colds

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By Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, lac

Q I have heard that Chinese herbs are effective for treating and preventing the common cold. What products do you recommend, and where can I find them? Are they safe?

A Chinese herbs are remarkable for treating the common cold, as well as a large array of viral infections. In the Chinese pharmacopeia, 40 herbs have been identified as having a strong anti-viral effect and, of these, 25 are commonly used in herbal formulas. In addition, 15 herbs have been found to be successful antibacterials.

Before answering your question about which products to use, I would like to comment on your question about safety. Chinese herbal products have been accused of being routinely contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. First of all, contamination of imported Chinese products is rare according to a 1998 California Food and Drug Branch analysis, and pesticide use is virtually non-existent or at a level far below that of vegetables in our supermarkets. Additionally, the products American acupuncturists use usually meet Australian Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, guaranteeing no heavy metals or pharmaceutical contamination. So yes, they are quite safe.

As far as products to use, I recommend a synergistic approach, combining three to 10 herbs. The most effective product in my opinion is Gan Mao Ling, “Common Cold Effective Remedy.” This formula, available from several GMP manufacturers, employs seven herbs. Four of these, which make up 74 percent of the formula, have strong anti-viral effects. Two of the antiviral herbs, Ilex Gang Mei Gen and Evodia San Cha Ku, have only been discovered recently, and make up 56 percent of the formula. The two herbs are extraordinary in stopping a respiratory virus quickly, perhaps in one or two doses. Gan Mao Ling is recommended in the early stage of a cold, usually the first 24 to 36 hours, when symptoms of sore throat, runny nose or slight malaise are noticed. Take five pills every three hours until the symptoms are gone. Gan Mao Ling can be used for the duration of the cold, if the symptoms are confined to the throat and sinuses. Once the cold enters the lungs, different formulas are required.

Other Chinese herbal products that are useful include Zhong Gan Ling, which also contains strong antiviral herbs (66 percent of the formula), while supportive herbs address fever and chills. Zhong Gan Ling is quite useful during influenza. It will not stop the illness, but can reduce the severity and duration up to 50 percent. It is also beneficial for West Nile Virus. Finally, I would recommend Yin Qiao Jie Du Wan for viral sneezing and running nose. A U.S. product having a similar effect, and using Chinese herbs, is Cold Snap. Most of these products can be found in health food stores.

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