Chinese Herbal Medicine and the treatment of Colds, Flu and Viruses

Chinese herbal medicine has a long history of treating Colds, Flu and viruses. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses scientific principles when approaching this issue. That is, a hypothesis is proposed and the practitioner sets out to either prove the hypothesis or disprove it. This has been done for centuries and is effective. I began to apply this approach 18 years ago when I had a bad flu. I haven’t had a dose of flu since, despite being in situations where I was at risk; for example, being in the same room as an infected patient for an hour and not catching it. I have other examples too, so I know it works for me.

To apply this method we need to know certain things. TCM theory is quite complex, so I will only use everyday language. First we need to know how colds, flu and viruses enter the body and how they develop. Then we need to have a strategy to deal with it.

At any time, we need to know the strength of our immune system versus the strength of the pathogen.

The immune system is the working together of all systems in the body at peak efficiency. So, you can ask yourself at any time “how do I feel now?” Everybody is affected by biorhythms. We feel differently depending on our work, sleep patterns, diet, stress etc. Too much alcohol will temporarily lower the immune system, so drink less, especially if you feel low already. When we feel we are not at 100%, our immune system may be temporarily lowered. When we feel low, tired, etc., we are at risk of infection. The other factor is the strength of the pathogen. When we feel 100% and are faced with a mild pathogen, our immune system may fight it off without it taking hold in the body. On the other hand, if we are facing a very strong virus, no matter how strong our immune system, we may become infected.

The next part of the equation is what are you going to do about it. To use the strategy of TCM, we need to know the theory of how colds, flu and viruses enter the body and how herbal medicine works. The best time to treat is when we are exposed and have no symptoms yet. We can also take a herbal medicine formula as prevention. To do this effectively, we need to have a formula in our possession as you need to take it straight away. Chinese Herbal Medicine will also work when we show first symptoms, but the virus hasn’t developed further. This is when Chinese Herbal Medicine works best, as a prevention, and in the early stages. When we have full symptoms, we still treat, but our aim then is to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.

Chinese Herbal Medicine has many formulae to treat colds, flu and viruses. I will talk about one which I use frequently for prevention and treatment of colds, flu and viruses.

Yin Qiao San/Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder. This formula is good for prevention of infections and also for treating infections. Yin Qiao treats symptoms of colds and flu – aches and pains, sore throat, cough, runny nose and fever. Whenever I took this formula and took my temperature, it went down by 2 degrees and stayed down for 4 hours. This is significant in breaking a fever. So, taking a dose every 4 hours is important. Do this until the fever has broken. If you reduce the dose and symptoms return, go back to the full dose.

Yin Qiao San is available in a lot of places online. However, it would be best to get it from a TCM practitioner. TCM practitioners will use high quality herbs grown and produced using ethical guidelines and GMP standards. Herbal granules are used.

How to Take Yin Qiao San/Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder.

As a prevention, take a half spoonful powder in warm water on an empty stomach. Take this twice a a day.

If you have a compromised immune system due to a chronic illness, or other risk factors: elderly, obese, high blood pressure, for example. Take a full dose, 1 teaspoonful of powder, twice a day on an empty stomach.

If you are going to be in a crowded space, travelling, or any space with recirculated air, take a full dose twice a day as a precaution.

If symptoms develop, or you are sharing a space with an infected person, take a full dose every 4 hours.

All of the above works well with viruses like the cold and flu. How it would work with a new virus, like Covid 19, we don’t know. Interesting though, is that one of the ingredients of Yin Qiao is Rx. Glycyrrhizae, prepared licorice root. This was shown to be beneficial in the treatment of SARS. See link:

So, get Yin Qiao asap if you want to try this strategy. Other things can improve the immune system – healthy diet, good quality sleep, minimise stress, etc. Another method to improve the immune system is a Mind/Body exercise like Qigong. Follow along with the video, see link:

Qigong is a mind/body exercise, meditation in motion. Qigong is not only what you do, but also how you do it. To improve the immune system these exercises need to be performed at least once a day. I will upload more videos soon, keep posted.

Other things which help the immune system: green tea. Take this with a sprig of mint. Make a flask of tea and sip it throughout the day. Medicinal Mushrooms can help the immune system and have been used in TCM for centuries. See link: They can be bought from a TCM herbalist or online. See Amazon link

To find a TCM practitioner in your area see

David Hankey

David Hankey

Hi, I’m David Hankey and I have been studying and practicing oriental health systems for more than 30 years.