Sunday, July 23, 2006
Cold and flu in the summer are always a strange surprise, though not entirely unexplainable. If you live in a hot area, you'll notice that offices and homes tend to crank up the air conditioner in the summertime, making our daily journeys in and out of buildings a real challenge for our immune system.
Chinese medicine does not recognize illnesses as "flu", but categorizes the entire situation of the person by his or her warmth/coldness, dampness/dryness, etc. What Western medicine would call a cold, or a flu, usually falls into one of two categories: wind-cold and wind-heat. Wind cold is a cold which leads one to be sluggish, cold, and inactive; wind heat tends to be accompanied by fever and redness. Both, but particularly the former, are associated with dampness, which manifests itself as phlegm.
Milk and dairy products are generally considered to increase phlegm in the body, and are therefore not recommended at times when one has a cold. Whether one eats cold or hot foods (which would depend on the type of cold one has), drying, anti-inflammatory foods are of essence. When in doubt, the three winning ingredients are garlic, ginger, and lemon.
Here are some things you might want to try next time you have a cold:
* Ginger-lemon tea (affectionately referred to here as "lemon-ginj")
* Thai curries, preferrably soy-based (coconut milk is a bit rich for ill, sluggish systems, though also good)
* Spicy stir-frys with garlic and ginger
* Tchina with lots of lemon and garlic
* vegetable stock with a bit of grated ginger on top