According to Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM), “wind”, “cold”, “summer-heat”, “dampness”, “dryness”, and “fire” are the 6 weathers of nature. Collectively, they are known as the 6-qi (六气).

So when the body is unable to adjust to “weather” changes, the qi (气) becomes imbalanced, and this affects the lungs resulting in cough and cold.

TCM Perspective On Cough And Cold

Coughing is also a body reflex to rid irritants which may be affecting our airway system. In addition, coughing may signify other organ qi dysfunction.

For instance, spleen dysfunction may produce dampness which affects the qi of the lung or liver qi stagnation which generates “fire” causing lung fluid to become phlegm.

Since TCM sees cough and cold as being potentially related to different organs, if one chooses to consult a TCM physician, he or she may look at particular symptoms accompanying a cough and cold for them to diagnose it accurately.

TCM Herbs For Cough and Cold

Radix Platycodi


  • Works on the lung meridian
  • Ventilates the lungs, dispel phlegm, relieves sore throat

Rhizoma Pinelliae


  • Works on stomach and spleen meridians
  • Dries dampness and resolves phlegm, checks adverse rise of qi and stops vomiting
  • Relieves stuffiness and dissipates nodulation
  • Serves as the key herb of drying dampness, resolving phlegm, warming and resolving cold-phlegm

Semen Armeniacae Amarum


  •  Works on lungs and large intestine meridians
  • Relieves cough and dyspnea, moisten intestines for bowel relaxation
  • Known as the key herb for treating cough and dyspnea

Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae


  •  Works on lung and heart meridians
  • Capable of clearing and resolving stagnant heat and resolving phlegm and dissipating nodulation
  • Clears lungs, purges heat and resolves phlegm, stops cough

Exocarplum Citri Grandis


  • Works on lung and spleen meridians
  • Moves qi, dries dampness and resolves phlegm

Radix Glycyrrhizae


  •  Works on lung and spleen meridians
  • Tonifies qi of heart and spleen, dispels phlegm, relieves cough and dyspnea
  • Harmonize property of medicines
  • Indicated for various syndromes of cough and dyspnea

Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae


  •  Works on lung and spleen meridians
  • Promote flow of qi, arrest vomiting, dry dampness and resolve phlegm

Semen Nelumbinis


  • Works on spleen, kidney, heart meridians
  • Diarrhea and dysentery due to spleen deficiency
  • Tonifies spleen and kidney
  • Nourishes heart to induce tranquilization
Candied tangerine fruit (橘餅)
  •  Works on lungs, stomach and spleen meridians
  • Soothe the spleen and stomach, direct qi downward, promotes digestion and resolves phlegm

Drink This! Cough and Cold Remedies

Cough-Pear Tang using steamed pear with Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (陈皮) & Semen Nelumbinis (连子). Rock sugar is optional.

Zhi Ke Tang using Semen Armeniacae Amarum (杏仁) & Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae (川贝) & candied tangerine fruit (橘餅).

Jujube TeaGui Zhi Tang using Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae (桂枝) & white paeony root (白芍),Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis Recens (生姜), Fructus Zizyphi Jujubae (大枣), Radix Glycyrrhizae (炙甘草)

Ge Gen Tang using Radix Puerariae (葛根), Herba Ephedrae (麻黄), Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae (桂枝), white Peony root (白芍), Rhizoma Zingiberis (生姜), Fructus Zizyphi Jujubae (大枣), Radix Glycyrrhizae (炙甘草)

Chrysanthemum tea using dried chrysanthemum (菊花) and Radix Glycyrrhizae (干草)

Take Home Tips

  • Care should be taken before self-medicating, especially for the elderly, children, pregnant women and patients with chronic illnesses. Consult a TCM physician if your cough or cold does not improve.
  • Observe good environmental and personal hygiene, wash hands frequently, do not share cutlery.
  • If infected with common cough and cold, put on a mask, take more rest and maintain a balanced diet. Take more fresh fruits and vegetables, drink more water and take less raw, cold, greasy, spicy and irritating food.
  • If you feel uncomfortable after consuming Chinese medicine, stop consumption and consult a TCM physician in the soonest possible time.

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This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-guide

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