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Battling the Common Cold and Flu with Acupuncture

During a change of season, colds and flus are a lot more common in our Gold Coast acupuncture clinic. Aside from eating nutritious wholesome foods, drinking plenty of water and resting, have you ever considered trying acupuncture to enhance your wellbeing and possibly assist your recovery rate?

Acupuncturist’s have different perspectives on the common cold and flu depending on presenting symptoms, and if treated correctly at the right time from the initial onset, acupuncture may be extremely beneficial to help you feel better, sooner.

The Cold and Flu in Chinese Medicine

From a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective, the common cold or flu that we all experience at some stage during the cooler months or during seasonal changes, often derives from an underlying deficiency within our body's system.

In Chinese Medicine, deficiencies or imbalances within our body systems can allow external pathogens such as Wind, Cold or Heat to exacerbate an underlying deficient or imbalanced condition resulting in certain cold and flu symptoms being aggravated (1).

Chinese Medicine and Oriental practitioners may use terms such as wind, in relation to health and disease.  A patient presenting with a cold or flu may be told, “your condition involves wind,” or this treatment is for “wind-heat, or wind-cold.”

In Chinese Medicine one way to describe wind in relation to disease is to rely on a strict interpretation of wind as a “pernicious influence” and that exposure to windy weather can cause disease.  Another approach to explain wind present in the body either from external exposure or from an internal deficiency, is to use an analogy, such as that when symptoms appear in different parts of the body at different times, this suggests movement that is like the wind, so there is a “wind-disease” present.

Signs and symptoms of wind-cold may include:

  • Chills and fever, with chills more dominant.
  • Sensitivity to wind or cold air.
  • Lack of thirst.
  • Lack of sweating.
  • Stiff neck with or without a headache (at the base of the occiput/skull).
  • Body aches or joint pain.
  • Runny nose with clear or white discharge or phlegm. 

If the above symptoms of wind-cold are only subtle, Acupuncture treatments at this stage can be very effective at stopping the cold in its tracks before it invades the body any further. Acupuncture may help shorten the time your cold may run its course for and reduce the severity of symptoms. Your acupuncturist may include additional methods like cupping, moxibustion or guasha to help enhance your recovery.


Signs and Symptoms of wind-heat may include:

  • Chills and fever.
  • Slight sweating.
  • Thirst.
  • Sore throat.
  • Cough.
  • Dark urine.
  • Possible skin eruptions.
  • Headache.
  • Runny nose with yellow discharge or phlegm.
  • Yellow or green phlegm with a sore throat and cough. 

If early care is insufficient, the cold may develop into heat and may happen as quick as 1 - 2 days. If you are a person with already exisiting heat signs and symptoms, your body may turn cold into heat in a couple of hours. At an early stage of wind-heat, acupuncture may still be very effective in shortening your course of illness. Additional methods may be used during your treatment to help enhance treatment results in combination with Chinese Medicine dietary information and recipes. 


When should you try acupuncture to help rid your cold or flu?

Symptoms of a cold and flu tend to change depending on what stage the pathogen is at within the body. Generally throughout the initial stages, the pathogen is more superficial which can allow the efficacy of acupuncture treatments to work quicker. If a cold or flu is treated with acupuncture and other oriental techniques early enough, symptoms may be resolved quicker, preventing the onset of major symptoms commonly associated with severe colds and flus. If the pathogen or illness has been lingering within our body system for some time, and has had time to develop the severity of the condition can worsen and the treatment is changed depending on the level of disease.

The sooner you recognise symptoms of a slightly stiff neck, dry throat, sneezing or low energy, your body’s first warning symptoms - rest, adequate water intake, wholesome nutritious foods and immune supplements should be considered. This would be the perfect time to contact your local acupuncture clinic.

A Seasonal Tip to help prevent catching colds and flus 

As the seasons change throughout the year so do our bodies. By identifying this and re-aligning with seasonal shifts, will allow your body to adapt and stay healthy throughout the changing seasons. As autumn leads towards winter the energy on the surface of our body is less radiant as it were in summer, making it important to keep the chest, neck and feet covered and warm to prevent external pathogens like wind, cold or heat impacting or invading the body’s natural defences.


If you have a cold or flu, or feel as though you could be run down and prone to catching a cold or flu, feel free to contact our Varsity Lakes clinic - located 5 minutes from Robina Town Centre.




  1. Masakazu, I, Obaidey, E, 2005, The Practice Of Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion: Classical Principles in Action, 1st end, Eastland Press, Seattle.
  2. Maclean W, Lyttleton J, 2010, Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine: The treatment of Disease with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Vol. 3: Qi, blood, fluid and channel disease. Pangolin Press, Hong Kong.