The cold and flu season is still upon us. Michael wrote about treating flu last fall, especially the swine flu, but I want to address a different approach here.
Cold/flu treatment usually falls into two main categories: wind-chill and wind-heat. Most flu formulas commonly available, western and Chinese, address wind-heat conditions as their symptoms are the most common: slight chills, stronger fever, thirst, sweating, restless, desire for cool drinks, mucus and phlegm that's yellow and a yellow-coated tongue with a redder body, especially the front third.
Wind-chill has different symptoms: stronger chills and little to no fever, no thirst or sweating, dull headaches, body aches, tight neck and shoulders, desire to be covered and still can't get warm, mucus and phlegm that's copious, runny and white to clear-colored and a white-coated tongue with a paler body.
To treat wind-chill, one uses warming and pungent herbs. Samuel Thomson's notorious Composition Powder works perfectly here (its equal in Planetary Formulas is called Ginger Warming Compound, which contains spicy herbs such as ginger, bayberry and cayenne).
A great Chinese patent equivalent that clears the chill but also treats the wind component beautifully (manifesting in the stuffy nose, tight neck and shoulders and body aches) is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan. It contains the following: mint (bo he), ligusticum (chuan xiong), schizonepeta (jing jie), notopterygium (qiang huo), licorice (gan cao), angelica (bai zhi), ledebouriella (fang feng) and asarum (xi xin). If taken at the first signs of chills and body aches, dull headache and tingly-ache along the nape of the neck and shoulders, it can knock it right out.
If a virus invades along with the wind-chill, take the above with a lower dosage of any cooling anti-viral herbs such as elderberry, isatis or olive leaf. The combination is quite effective and quickly knocks out these nasty conditions.
If there are signs of both heat and cold, it's possible to take the typical western herbs for colds and flu along with adding strong ginger tea (or a smaller dosage of Ginger Warming Compound). Be sure to add in an anti-viral herb, as that is often the key to quickly knocking out any cold or flu.