A Head Cold Enters the Lungs

A patient recently came down with a head cold. She had the common presentation: nasal congestion, chills, fatigue, general malaise, and possibly a low fever.

After a few days of this, she contacted me because she simply couldn’t seem to shake the cold and it had started to enter her lungs. By the time I was able to see her, the symptoms had changed. Now, the illness had entered her lung. The symptoms were mainly a cough that might be categorized as “chesty” or a wet cough. While her nose had cleared up, ther lungs were now producing a yellow sticky phlegm that was moderately difficult to expectorate. The chills were gone, the cough was more frequent and kept the patient up all night. The fatigue was increasing, and the patient also developed a significantly painful sore throat.

Infectious type situations such as this, are better suited for treatment with herbal medicine than acupuncture. In this case, the patient was given a combination of two formulas plus one extra herb was added in. The herb formulas were Sang Ju Yin (aka Mulberry and Chrysanthemum Decoction) and Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan (aka Clear the QI and Transform Phlegm). The first formula is particularly indicated for sore throat with a cough. The herb ban lan gen (radix isatidis) was added in because it has excellent antiviral properties, and more specifically it is fantastic for treating sore throat. The other formula, Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan, is excellent for lung congestion and cough when there is yellow and/or green phlegm that is sticky and may be difficult to expectorate. It is said to treat the pattern of imbalance called phlegm heat in the lungs in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

So, what actually happened? Within 24 hours the patient reported that her sore throat had completely resolved, and that the phlegm became much easier to expectorate ( ie cough up and spit out). Upon further questioning, she stated that her lungs felt much clearer, breathing was easy, and she said, “I’m still tired but its not that type of tired you get when you’re sick, but just the type of tired you feel when you havent slept enough”. She went on to say that she could tell her body had beat the “bug” and now just needed to rest and recuperate.