One of my favorite movies, Where the Wild Lilies Bloom (1974), tells the story of a family of five Appalachian children who use herbal folk healing they learned from their widower father who recently passed away. Not wanting to be separated and adopted out, they developed a reputation of healers by relieving a neighbor’s bad case of pneumonia by immersing him in a tub of filled with hot water and chopped raw onions until the desperate fellow broke a sweat. After that, his fever passed and he got well.

The principle behind this depiction of true Appalachian folk medicine, to break a sweat, happens to be the best way to cure a cold or flu. The method was certainly espoused by the famous iconoclastic 19th-century doctor Samuel Thomson (1769-1843), whose popularity at the time earned him the title, ‘the father of American herbalism.’ He learned of the value of sweating for these seasonal afflictions from Northeastern Native Americans and their use of sweat lodges.

Thomson said “warming the vital force” was the key to health and freedom from disease. To accomplish this, he combined the following internal warming herbs into a formula we know as “Composition Powder”:

4 parts bayberry root bark powder

3 parts ginger powder

3 parts white poplar bark (inner bark) powder

3 parts pine bark (inner bark) powder

2 parts clove powder

1 part cayenne powder

Those afflicted with colds, flu, fever and even acute joint and back pains would be told to steep a teaspoon of these herbs in a covered cup of boiling water until cool enough to drink. Honey could be added to improve flavor, but the best results were effected if the patient also consumed the dregs.

This is only the first part of the treatment. After consuming the formula in the way described above, the patient was to quickly bundle up and lie perfectly still in a warm bed until a sweat is broken. If sweat does not occur the first time within an hour or two the process can be repeated once or twice more.

These old-fashioned sweating treatments were not only used for colds, flu, fever, and even pneumonia, but for any condition where circulation is weak and obstructed, for the aged who require a stimulating drink, and to relieve cold sensitive back and joint pains as well as urinary conditions.

This was the single most popular North American old-time remedy for over a century with famous doctors such as Dr. Nowell of Canada and the Dominion College of herbalism claiming that each year he would dispense hundreds of pounds of composition powder to his patients for a wide variety of conditions.

Most people who take Composition Powder today in capsules or pills don’t realize that the powder must dissolved in hot water as described above, followed by the sweat in bed; take note!

Composition Powder is available as a Planetary product called “Ginger Warming Compound.” It is my own proprietary formula and it consists of: Cassia Bark, Ginger Root Extract (5% gingerols), Cayenne Fruit, White Pine Bark, Cloves Fruit, Bayberry Bark, Marshmallow Root Extract, and Licorice Root Extract.

Back in the 1940’s, my mother would use a similar approach at the first sign of any cold or flu my younger brother or I developed: She would give a warm drink, perhaps hot lemon and honey tea, then slather on a thick coat of Vick’s Vapo Rub and camphorated oil on our chest and back (we hated it but it worked!) and then tuck us tightly under the covers with the admonition to lie perfectly still until we broke a sweat. After this, she’d quickly sponge us off with warm water, then get us into new pajamas and bedding for a comfortable night’s sleep. In most cases we were completely recovered by morning and could even return to school.

Western herbalists frequently recommend a tea made by steeping one or two teaspoons each of elderflower and peppermint in a cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. This can be taken with honey but the key always is to retire with some warm blankets and lie perfectly still until a sweat is broken.

In some rural areas of throughout Europe, people take a stiff shot of whiskey or brandy as the hot drink before retiring to sweat. Using a similar technique, my old Sicilian grandparents would eat several cloves of garlic again with hot water followed by sweating under the covers.

Many a time when coming down with a cold or flu while traveling all I could find was preferably raw ginger or dried ginger, which I would make into a tea with honey.

In Japan a drink of hot sake with garlic taken as a shot two or three times a day is used as an effective cold remedy.

In Mexico a tea is made with a stick of cinnamon, a handful of raisins and a teaspoon of oregano is used.

In all of the examples above, the hot drink is followed by lying still under the covers until one breaks a sweat. A hot water bottle or hot brick wrapped with a flannel applied to the feet greatly assists this process. It may not be easy for children to remain still until sweating occurs (nor for parents who must keep them still!), but the objective of all of these remedies is to induce diaphoresis.

One must induce sweating even if a fever is already causing perspiration. Spontaneous perspiration from fever or hot climate occurs because of exhaustion, but diaphoresis as a result of drinking certain herbal teas actually rallies the body’s internal defense to drive the invading pathogen out through the pores of the body. I know this idea of releasing the invader through the surface of the body may not be physiologically accurate, and what may be really occurring is that the herbs rally the body’s immune response to destroy the invading pathogen, be it bacterial or viral. But it serves as a strategically useful description of how herbal diaphoresis works when it is done correctly.

Due caution should be taken to not sweat too long or to the point of exhaustion. Only take enough herbs to induce perspiration and then stop taking the herbs.

For babies and small children who tend to run higher fevers, it is a good idea to apply frequent cool water compresses to the forehead during the sweating process which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine describe most acute cold-sensitive, external diseases with possible joint and muscle aches as a Tai Yang stage disease which is the first stage or layer of six described as the Shang Han Lun compiled by Zhang Zhong Jing around 200 AD. Without going into detail regarding the six stages, Tai Yang is the only stage where diaphoresis (sweating) is absolutely indicated. Diseases can affect many levels or layers of the body, but sweating should be induced is for anyone with an external disease (which includes colds, flu, fevers, coughs, joint and/or back pains, skin affections, anxiety, nervousness, fluid abnormalities (swelling, etc), jaundice,  and accompanying symptoms) so long as they exhibit the syndrome of aversion to cold and/or wind, floating pulse, and neck or upper back pain or stiffness which classifies it as an external Tai Yang Syndrome.

The Shang Han Lun describes hundreds of different Tai Yang formulas, each more or less specific for treating associated symptoms. Most of them are grouped under the category of cinnamon tea (Gui Zhi Tang) or Ma Huang tea formulas.

  1. Gui Zhi Tang consists of gui zhi (cassia cinnamon) 10g, bai shao (white peony) 10g, gan cao zhi (honey fried licorice) 6g, sheng jiang (fresh ginger) 15g, da zao (Jujube dates) 4pcs.

Gui Zhi Tang (pronounced: ‘gway jur tang’) is specifically indicated if someone has a Tai Yang condition with a tendency to sweat but the condition is not relieved.

  1. Ma Huang Tang consists of ma huang (Ephedra sinica) 9g, gui zhi (cinnamon twigs) 6g, zhi gan cao (honey-fried licorice root) 3g, xing ren (apricot seeds) 10g.

Ma Huang Tang is specifically indicated if an individual is stronger, and tends not to sweat.

There are dozens of variations of ma huang and gui zhi formulas based on other problems occurring other than a cold, flu or fever. Further, these formulas are used to treat a wide number of diseases with basic Tai Yang syndrome. However in most cases these need to be followed by diaphoresis.

Diaphoresis is a Qi-exhausting process and is contraindicated for individuals who are weak and generally deficient. If a tea were used for such individuals it should be Gui Zhi tang which is more nourishing.

After sweating, it is recommended that you have a bowl of thin, easily digested white rice cream or oatmeal to replenish energy that was lost during sweating.  Chicken soup is also a good food to use after or when recovering from colds or flu. 

Note: Because of the ban by the FDA of the retail sale of ma huang due to industry abuses of this valuable herb you may substitute 10 grams of fresh ginger or Composition Powder mentioned above (Planetary's “Ginger Warming Compound" available at stores around the country).

We’ve all heard of so many products such as zinc, Vitamin C, echinacea for colds and flu – these are really good to use if you want to get rid of your cold or flu in a week or two or three. However sweating therapy using Composition Powder tea, strong ginger and honey tea, or garlic and honey tea, followed by breaking a sweat, is the best way to get rid of a cold, flu or fever in one or two days.  

Ever wonder why you never hear mention of certain well-known herbs in the higher echelons of herbal medicine? Garlic is one such unsung herb. I once asked my prominent TCM and Ayurvedic herbalist cohorts why garlic is not included in any of the classical texts and higher level discussions of herbal medicine in these respective systems. Both provided a similar response: essentially, garlic is just too common and crude. In this blog, I want to reaffirm my high regard for garlic.

Whole books have been written about its healing properties, but you need go no further than herbalist Christopher Hobbs’ article on garlic. According to Hobbs, Ayurvedic herbal theory considers garlic, called lasuna in Sanskrit, "tonic, hot, digestive, aperient, cholagogue and alterative." Various simple Ayurvedic practices used to administer garlic are not all that different from some of those used in Europe and the US. One is to crush garlic in honey and take it to relieve coughs, flu, fever, parasites, and other infectious diseases. Strong herbs like garlic often require ingenious vehicles of administration in order to lessen their harshness. In Ayurveda, it is crushed and taken in boiled milk with the addition of honey.

In traditional Chinese medicine, garlic is called suan. It is described as having a pungent taste, warm nature and acts on the Spleen, Stomach and Lung. Its spicy property is used to promote the circulation of Qi and Blood, remove masses from the abdomen, eliminate toxic substances, destroy parasites (internally and externally) and treat a wide variety of diseases including: feeling of cold, swollen abdomen, diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, cough, boils and pyogenic infections, tinea capitis, and snake or other venomous bites and stings. I’ve never found it as part of a TCM classical formula, perhaps because it is so strong and the flavor is overwhelming. For medicinal use, the Chinese do recommend crushing it and eating it raw, mashed, decocted, or with food.

Western herbalists are great believers in Allium sativum. The use of garlic in the West is well known and especially widely used in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Garlic is so highly respected that many herbalists quip, "It can be used to cure every disease except the one it causes (bad breath)!" For this I recommend taking some parsley after eating garlic.

The Antibiotic Power of Raw Garlic

Today, garlic is appreciated as an herb to help the cardiovascular system and lower blood pressure. But Hobbs and I both agree that garlic is probably the single most potent antibiotic herb there is.

Perhaps the most important chemical constituent found in garlic is the organosulfur compound allicin. When fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, the enzyme alliinase converts alliin into allicin. This is responsible for the strong aroma of fresh garlic, which travels throughout the body very quickly from direct contact through the blood stream. (If you want to prove this, try rolling and crushing a clove of fresh garlic with the sole of your foot and count the seconds before the smell is emitted through the breath of your mouth. This is what makes garlic so particularly effective for the lungs and bronchioles.)

Further enzymatic changes of allicin quickly occur producing other sulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide. These are all known to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal and antiyeast activity making garlic both a powerful treatment as well as preventive of infectious diseases.

At the first sign of an upper respiratory infection of any kind, I recommend taking garlic in my favorite preparation: mash several raw cloves into some olive oil and take a hefty dose (about a teaspoonful) hourly when needed by dipping a bit of bread into the olive oil and garlic mix. This can help cure the disease but for certain, it prevents its progression.

Aged and fermented garlic is widely promoted in the market. This is a Japanese method to enable one to benefit from the positive effects of garlic especially for the immune and cardiovascular system without the strong smell.

Cooking or fermenting garlic largely destroys the antibacterial sulfuric compounds mentioned above, but again the many other health benefits of garlic especially for digestion, cardiovascular and immune system will still be present. However, if you are looking to use garlic for its more acute antibacterial and antiviral properties and benefits for the lungs and respiratory system you need the odor which carries these properties to those parts of the body.

A Delicious Way to Prevent Cold or Flu

I’d like to share a very special, delicious garlic food remedy given to me by one of my students and neighbor, Kathryn Grant. It is her ‘go-to’ first line treatment for acute colds or flu and I can attest that it really works.

Garlic Fettuccine

3 ounces fettuccine, cooked al dente

1 whole garlic bulb, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons half and half

2 to 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Cayenne pepper

Gently heat olive oil over a low/medium flame. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (30 seconds).

Add fettuccine, half and half, and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a little cayenne (next month’s crude, rude herb!), and toss until creamy and pasta is coated.

Last time, I talked about moxibustion and its uses on the acupuncture point Stomach 36. There are several other uses and locations for moxa, which I will discuss in this and subsequent blogs. Best of all, moxa is an inexpensive treatment that can be applied at home. Following are a few more highly useful moxa points that yield profound, nearly immediate positive results.

back_painLower back pain

Indirect moxa applied for 10 to 20 minutes over the lower back and wherever reactive points can be located provides immediate and oftentimes long-lasting relief from pain. It is a far better treatment than the application of icepacks which stop the pain by cutting off circulation; moxa relieves pain by facilitating circulation.

The application of five stick-on moxa pellets directly on Governing Vessel 4 (Ming Men, or "Life Gate") located directly on the spine between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, supplements Yang Qi for the entire body and effectively treats lower back pain. Using indirect moxa about an inch and a half to the left and right of this point in the area of Bladder 23 on the small of the back will further add to the treatment. Of course, always try to find the sensitive trigger points as these are the most effective for treatment of acute pain.

feverColds, Flu and Fevers

Moxa on the point called Governing Vessel 14 (Da Zhui or "the Great Hammer") raises the Yang immune system of the entire body and is the most effective treatment for colds, flus and fevers. It is located directly on the seventh cervical vertebra of the spine.

The value of doing moxa on this point cannot be understated. It will induce perspiration, which is the first line of treatment for all invading pathogens. Being the meeting point of all the Yang acupuncture meridians, it is indicated for all exterior conditions, protecting the body from the invasion of exterior pathogens. It prevents and treats colds, flu, fevers, clears heat, and strengthens the neck and spine. It is also used for bone issues, arthritis, spurs, scoliosis, problems with the arms and hands, epilepsy, hypertension, insomnia and nosebleed.

It seems counterintuitive that one would apply heat to treat inflammation, but with moxa it is not only the heat that is having an effect, but the stimulation of circulation and the proliferation of white and red blood cells.

Next time: Moxa for insomnia and infertility.

thermometerHere it is again – another influenza epidemic claimed to be the biggest in 10 years. We’re bombarded by the usual display of public health officials including TV doctor-personality Dr. Oz all dutifully encouraging the public to rush to get a worthless flu shot.

Yes, I call flu shots worthless (and wrote about this in a previous blog). The most damning evidence regarding the sham flu vaccine comes from industry independent medical research. The now famous Cochrane library study evaluated over 50 different studies and reports evaluating the efficacy of the flu vaccine and concluded at best a possible shortening of duration of the flu by one day. Dr. Mercola argues that these results are hardly worth the risk of probably grossly unnumbered adverse reactions called such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which claim approximately 1.6 cases per million vaccinations.

Recently Dr. Oz did a highly controversial show evaluating the efficacy of the flu vaccine. I generally applaud Dr. Oz for his openness to alternative medicine and his highly entertaining popular TV show where he champions an agenda of health and wellness. He assembled four medical experts including the deputy director of the Center for Disease Control (pro-vaccine), two medical doctors, and a colleague, Dr. Peter Joshi. Dr. Joshi made a damning uncontested statement that depending on the study one reads, if anywhere from 35 to 100 people all received influenza vaccine, perhaps only one may not contract the flu. All the others remained silent providing tacit agreement and Dr. Oz was shocked. However, he concluded with his own version of endorsing the influenza vaccine as a ‘Hail Mary’ play while ignoring all the proven evidence of adverse reactions.

He recommended many of the usual precautions -- frequent handwashing, wearing a protective mask, the use of hand sanitizers, limiting the weakening effects of processed foods, refined foods, white sugar, avoiding crowded public spaces, adequate sleep, and so forth. He also mentioned the evidence-based benefit of elderberry juice or syrup.

There are some effective general protocols and treatments for colds and flu and I’m sure you know of many. Below are links to previous blogs written by myself and Lesley over the past few years which will give you our favorite ways to treat and prevent the flu using herbs and diet.

Wind-Chill Colds and Flu: What They Are and How to Treat Them


That Other Flu Rose: Garlic

Dietary Cold and Flu Prevention Tips

An Herbalist's Autumn, plus Herbal Cold and Flu Prevention Tips

Swine Flu: Media hype and a boon to the pharmaceutical industry

Honeysuckle: Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

Japanese honeysuckle by William RaftiEach spring, the honeysuckle flowers gather at the end of their stems to trumpet their sweet, gentle scent of purification and renewal. When I lead an herb walk in my backyard, I always pause with my students in homage at the woodbine (honeysuckle vine). After a discussion of the powerful antibiotic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and not least, anticancer properties of this gentle herb, I facetiously tell my students to pick a dry weight pound of honeysuckle blossoms as part of their initiation into the world of herbs.

The painstaking task I suggest to my students is something I've never personally undertaken. Generally, I don't pick honeysuckle flowers myself, with the excuse that it's too much work. Probably it is for this same reason that despite the herb's fantastic properties of purification and detoxification, it is seldom used by Western herbalists. (This moment does not pass with a feeling of silent gratitude for some poor Chinese peasant who invested hours of time and patience to pick a pound of jin yin hua for a pittance so that I could in turn purchase the flowers at a cost of just a few U.S. dollars.) It's impossible to only use herbs I personally grow or harvest in my clinic, but in an attempt to complete the cycle from nature to nurture, I always try to harvest some part of the herbs I use every year. This spring, I could not resist the temptation to pick some fresh honeysuckle flowers for personal use and for some clients in my clinic.

Honeysuckle flowers tend to grow in small clumps of up to eight or more blossoms. At first, they are luminescent white; then, as the heat of the sun bears down on them, they begin to yellow with age. I don't know it for certain, but I imagine that the white flowers are more potent. I single these out for harvest.

Well, in the space of 30 minutes I probably harvested eight to 10 ounces, that is fresh and wet, not dry! Still, the effort is worth it. I think of ascetic monks who charge themselves to the repetition of a mantra counted on a rosary (mala) of hundreds to thousands a day, how much more transcendent and connecting of heaven and earth would it be, if they were put to the task of picking honeysuckle flowers while quietly repeating their prayer? Imagine the even greater healing spiritual energy prayer-picked honeysuckle blossoms would take on!

Medicinal Applications of Honeysuckle Flowers and Leaves

Jin yin hua, the most common species of honeysuckle used in Asia, is Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). With over a hundred species worldwide, ranging in a wide arrange of sizes and colors (including red!) the plants are all in the Caprifoliacea family along with Sambucus (elder). According to herbalist Christopher Hobbs, elder has chemistry and properties similar enough to be used interchangeably with honeysuckle flowers. Lonicera fruit can be red, blue or black and contain several hard seeds. In most species the berries are regarded as mildly poisonous with the notable exception of L. caerulea whose berries are edible. Nevertheless, it is not the berries, but the flowers and leaves that we are after when we look to honeysuckle as a medicinal.

Jin yin hua, which aptly translates as 'golden silver flower,' is one of the first herbs considered for the treatment of infections, inflammation, fevers and toxicity. It is an herbal antibiotic effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Bacillus dysenteeriae, Vibrio cholera, Salmonella typhi, Diplococcus pneumonia, Diplococcus meningitides, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Chlorogenic acid and isochlorogenic acid in the herb has the strongest antibiotic effects. According to Chen and Chen (Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, 2004, Art of Medicine Press Inc.), the fresh herb only soaked in water has a stronger antibiotic than an herbal decoction, with the leaves having an even stronger antibiotic properties than the flowers.

Honeysuckle flowers are classified as sweet and cold and enter the Lung, Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. They are effectively dosed anywhere from 10 to 60 grams and are used for the common cold with symptoms of fever and thirst, upper respiratory tract infections, boils, furuncles, enteritis and dysentery. For diarrhea and dysentery with watery stool, honeysuckle is taken dry fried and carbonized.

One of the most common formulas using honeysuckle is the famous Yin Qiao San, widely used for treating colds and influenza. However, its broader detoxifying and heat-clearing properties makes it useful for inflammatory skin conditions, inflammations of the upper respiratory tract and is taken both internally and externally for mastitis as well as lung and breast cancer. Several studies have shown that extracts of honeysuckle promote apoptosis and inhibit tumor growth. For more on the anticancer uses of Lonicera and other herbs, I recommend my book Treating Cancer with Herbs published by Lotus press.

The flowers are not the only part of Lonicera that are useful medicinally. While not specifically designated, the leaves have even stronger antibiotic effects than the flowers. This may inspire herbalists to personally harvest and try using more generous doses of Lonicera aerial parts for all infectious diseases. In this regard, though I've not tried it, one might consider the use of strong honeysuckle tea, perhaps with added fresh ginger and a little licorice for recalcitrant infections like Lyme's disease.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a specific through similar anti-inflammatory use for Lonicera stems which are called jin yin teng or ren dong teng. This part of the plant has milder anti-toxin effects but is specific for arthritic and rheumatic conditions, described in TCM as bi pain or 'wind-dampness.'

While many contemporary western herbalists regard honeysuckle as exclusive to the domain of Chinese herbal medicine, the Roman naturalist writer Pliny recommended it mixed with wine for the treatment of 'disorders of the spleen.' This may suggest yet another possible use for honeysuckle: depression. In ancient Greek humoural medicine, the spleen is associated with the black bile humour which in turn is associated with melancholy, or depression. To my knowledge there is no contemporary use of honeysuckle flowers for the treatment of depression unless one considers its use as a homeopathic Bach flower remedy for a certain kind of depression associated with nostalgia.

I've always been eager to incorporate and use any herb or healing principle so long as it is safe and effective. This is why I came up with my own approach to herbalism, Planetary Herbology embodied in the East West Herb Course. If I were an Ayurvedic herbalist or a curandero living in the Amazon jungle, if I learned about the fantastic uses of an herb like Lonicera, I'd have a hard time not wanting to put it to immediate use. If you've got a honeysuckle vine giving its profuse blooms over a fence or trellis in your yard at this time of year, I hope you're inspired to snip some leaves and flowers for medicine; it'll come in handy later this year!

Almost exactly one year ago today, I published a blog post, 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Flu,' about the corporate-made H1N1 fraud.

Now, according to Digital Online, the German news source Der Spiegel published an exhaustive article describing how 30 representatives of Big Pharma met with WHO Director-General Chan and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at WHO headquarters for the sole purpose of discussing how to move the H1N1 threat to a phase 6 or pandemic level. 

Once upon a time, the term 'pandemic' represented a critical worldwide health threat; somehow it was downgraded to simply mean a world disease. 

Hopefully this will awaken more people to the threat of the takeover of the world's economies by multi-national corporations generally, and by Big Pharma in particular.

Few of us can fathom the threat posed by these companies. Having no allegiance to any country and so glutted with wealth, they can shift at will, moving their base from one part of the globe to another. In this way, they are able to benefit from lower operational costs and can bypass national regulations because international regulations, are weaker and more difficult to enforce. While this is true to an alarming extent for all large corporations, it is especially an issue with Big Pharma, whose particular power can hold the people of the world hostage to their mostly 'toxic' wares.   

The Der Spiegel exposé, depicting Big Pharma's ability to cloud and influence the judgment of the director of the World Health Organization and of the United Nations for their personal profit, vividly illustrates the power and persuasion unique to that industry. It also makes credible the stories that assert, based on an analysis of the DNA strands of the H1N1 virus showing origin from various parts of the world, that the virus was deliberately created giving this entire hoax an even more Orwellian dimension than most of us are able or willing to embrace.

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).

Expellin_ExtractA 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.

The cold and flu season is still upon us. While Michael wrote about treating flu last fall, especially the swine flu, 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. 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, mint (bo he), ligusticum (chuan xiong), schizonepeta (jing jie), notopterygium (qiang huo), licorice (gan cao), angelica (bai zhi), ledebourilla (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.

garlicNo matter what name you give it (or what animal you name it after), we're now full swing into the flu season. Michael's written on the great benefits of onion poultice; how can I pass up touting one of my favorite flu/lung/cough herbs '" garlic? So while you're plastering your chest with an onion poultice, eat or drink some form of garlic as well. 

Garlic is said to be a cure for every ailment but the one it causes: bad breath! Its delightful fragrance comes from the presence of sulfur compounds, nature's own antibiotic (but if you eat parsley after the garlic, much of its undesirable odor is eliminated). Garlic is a rejuvenating herb because it both stimulates metabolism and detoxifies. In fact, the body absorbs it so quickly that if you were to rub a clove on your feet, you would be able to taste it within seconds! 

Garlic is one of the very best herbs for respiratory conditions, colds, flu, sore throats, infections and earaches. Because it so powerfully heals lung ailments, I recommend it to most all patients with coughs or mucus (especially white or clear mucus).

I have found two methods to be particularly effective for lung ailments: garlic juice or garlic appetizer.  

Once when I visited my parents I developed walking pneumonia (and didn't know it). I tried a variety of different herbs but had no results. Finally, I purchased a bottle of garlic juice at a chain grocery store and drank one teaspoonful every two to three hours. Within the first day I was well on the road to recovery and by the end of the third day, completely healed. 

Another time I had a terrible debilitating cough on Mother's Day. My son and husband wanted to take me out to lunch to celebrate and since I didn't want to disappoint them, I went along thinking I would keep them company but not eat. Luckily we found an Italian restaurant where, as we waited to order, a large appetizer of bread with raw garlic in olive oil sat on our table. Knowing garlic would help me, I coated several pieces of the bread with masses of the raw garlic dipped in olive oil and ate them with relish. By the time our meals had arrived, my cough was nearly gone and the next day I had fully recovered. I have seen had many a patient experience similar results using garlic juice or appetizer. 

Of course, garlic has TONS of other great medicinal uses. It's a specific for regulating blood pressure, both high and low, and lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and plaque in vessels, thus treating atherosclerosis. The deodorized garlic capsules work well in this case, which is a blessing, for it is quite convenient and of course, odorless (in fact, the aged garlic may be superior for these actions).  

As well, raw garlic effectively improves weak digestion, stimulates circulation and treats arthritis, rheumatism, lower back and joint pains, genito-urinary diseases, nervous disorders, cramps and spasms and heart weakness. For any of these eat the raw cloves, or drink the juice or syrup. It may also be used in food poisoning due to shellfish.  

The Chinese use garlic as a preventative and treatment for parasites and intestinal worms, particularly hookworms, pinworms and ringworm of the scalp. Either insert an oiled garlic clove in the rectum, use garlic enemas (made from garlic tea), eat 3-5 raw cloves of garlic, 3-6 times daily, apply the paste (mashed garlic in sesame or olive oil) topically for ringworm, and in general, use heavy doses for these indications.  

Garlic is also good for amoebic dysentery, and an effective antibiotic for staphylococcus, streptococcus and bacteria resistant to standard antibiotic drugs. It is effective for vaginitis and leukorrhea (coat cloves in oil, wrap in muslin, saturate in olive oil and directly insert into vagina) and anti-fungal for the treatment of Candida albicans and yeast infections. 


Allium sativum; Liliaceae;  da suan; Sanskrit: lasunam

Part Used: bulb

Energy, taste: hot; spicy

Organs affected: Lung, Spleen, Large Intestine, Stomach

Actions: expels parasites

Properties: stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic, hypotensive, alterative, digestant, carminative, expectorant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, parasiticide, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, anticoagulant, lowers cholesterol

Biochemical constituents: volatile oil (about 0.2%) including allicin and aliin, B Vitamins, minerals

Dose: 6-15 gm; Since the volatile oils hold its active ingredients, garlic must be taken fresh for acute ailments rather than deodorized in capsules. For acute conditions, take 1 tsp. every hour of syrup, oil or juice; 3-5 cloves, raw, toasted or as paste/day; 30-60 drops tincture, 1-4 times/day

Precautions: avoid in high doses during pregnancy; do not use with Excess Heat or Yin Deficiency with Heat signs, acute inflammations, or take with problems of the mouth, tongue or throat; prolonged direct contact to the skin of fresh garlic can cause irritation; excessive use can irritate the stomach

Other: purple-skinned garlic has a stronger effect against parasites; eat with food as a preventative

Indications: respiratory conditions, colds, flu, sore throats, infections, earaches, cough, high and low blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, atherosclerosis, weak digestion, poor circulation, arthritis, rheumatism, lower back and joint pains, genito-urinary diseases, nervous disorders, cramps, spasms, heart weakness, parasites, intestinal worms (particularly hookworms), pinworms, ringworm of the scalp, amoebic dysentery, staphylococcus, streptococcus, vaginitis, leukorrhea, Candida, yeast infections

Have you ever had one of those lingering, deep-seated coughs (often the last hanger-on symptom after a cold or flu) that just continually and gradually wears down your reserves of strength?

No matter how long or hard you hack, regardless how many pints of cough syrup or handfuls of pills you swallow, despite all the sessions of acupuncture you sign up for, it's the cough that just refuses to budge. That nasty little wad of phlegm that managed to drain from your sinuses and slip down deep into your bronchioles just won't come up. It's annoying and downright exhausting!

What to do? 

onionsThis is where my favorite home remedy comes to the rescue. It is the time-honored onion poultice --  or if you wish to add garlic for extra antibiotic effect, it's the onion-garlic poultice.

Whenever I think of onion poultice I think of one of my favorite movies, "Where the Lilies Bloom" (1974), about four suddenly orphaned backwoods kids who have to fend for themselves and call upon all their ancestral knowledge about herbs. There is a pivotal scene where some authority figure is stricken with something like pneumonia with a severely debilitating cough, and the children literally encase the stricken person in a bath of finely chopped (and I presume steamed) onions. The patient recovers, which adds greatly to the esteem of the kids who are trying desperately to conceal the fact that they are without parents but want to remain together.

The point is that this remedy really does work like a charm. It's the best treatment for pneumonia and stubborn coughs like the ones that seem to stick around after a bout of cold or flu.

There's any number of variations on how to prepare it, but I'll share mine which works for me:

  1. Finely chop two or three onions (you may also add a few cloves of chopped garlic for increased antibiotic effect).
  2. Steam these for a short while in a steamer.
  3. Remove from steamer, place in a large bowl, and add a half cup of corn flour and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help hold the poultice together. Mix well.
  4. Place the entire mash in a natural fiber cloth, large enough to wrap and keep the entire mash over an area roughly the size of your patient's chest.
  5. Apply the wrapped mash to your supine patient, as hot as can be tolerated without burning, over the chest, from the base of the neck down as far as you wish.  If the cough seems more on the back then apply it over the upper back. (If you are putting the poultice on yourself, you might need assistance from a friend or family member.) 
  6. Place a hot water bottle or heating pad over the top of the poultice to maintain heat for greater penetration.
  7. Rest with the poultice on for at least 20 or 30 minutes. 

This treatment can be repeated once or twice a day until relief is obtained. Applying the hot onion poultice before bed will help allay the cough enough to produce a more restful sleep. If you want to accompany it with a simple homemade antibacterial internal medicine, you can blend several cloves of garlic in olive oil and take a teaspoon to a tablespoon at least every hour. You can also make a tasty instant cough syrup by grating raw ginger and mixing it in warm liquid honey with the juice of a lemon.

The antibiotic and antiviral sulfur compounds of onion and garlic, when applied directly over the lungs, will ease inflammation, loosen and break up hardened mucus, and help expectoration. You may experience immediate benefit from even one application, but for some this may be accompanied with shorter bouts of somewhat more aggressive coughing fits as the hardened phlegm is loosened and gradually works its way out. 

This simple folk remedy is golden and should never be forgotten! Best of all, it requires no exotic ingredients -- just items you probably already have in your pantry. I know of no pharmaceutical drug, medical treatment or internal herbal formula that is more effective. 

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