7 Surprising Ways to Fight Colds and Flu

November 13, 2014

The Best ‘East Meets West’ Tips for Immunity

With temperatures plummeting around the country, cold and flu season will be upon us in no time.

There was such an overwhelming response to my recent blog Viral Vigilance that I knew this was a topic that needed further expansion.

And, as one of my doctor readers pointed out, I neglected to mention one of  the most foundational supplements for strong immunity—probiotics, the beneficial bacteria residing in your digestive tract.

How could I have forgotten that 60% of your immune system’s receptor cells are in the colon and another 15% are in the lower part of the small intestine?

That means 75% of your immune system resides in your gut, so this is your first line of defense and your greatest ally in the fight against both viral and bacterial infections.

While you can use yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables as a dietary probiotic source, for my busy schedule, Flora-Key is the probiotic I’ve found to be most practical when I’m time crunched. It contains five of the most effective strains to ward off pathogens and boost immunity. As a powdered formula, it’s easy to pop into your smoothies, cold drinks and no-heat recipes as a natural sweetener. And, it’s your best bet for picky eaters, children and infants!

Now, let’s go beyond probiotics…

Since flu strains promise to be even more virulent this year, I was more eager then ever to continue gathering the most innovative and time-tested strategies to bolster immune power.

Enter Margo Jordan Parker, OMD…

A friend and famed acupuncturist, I always like to touch base with Margo when I need to blend the best medicinal advice from both a Western and Eastern perspective.

I caught up with her last week, and here’s what she had to say to add even more timely tips to make your body a healing fortress for the holiday season and beyond:

The aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to prevent disease rather than resort to treating symptoms after they occur. In ancient China, the doctors were paid in advance to keep the community well.

Fortunately, there are a number of things we can all do now based on this ancient wisdom to make sure that our natural immune defense systems are strong and ready to protect us in bitter cold weather.

Prevention of Cold and Flu

In Chinese Medicine, it is the protective energy (Wei Chi) in our Lung/Metal Element that is responsible for protecting us against colds and flu—and for maintaining our immunity.

In addition to respiration, the energy of the Lung/Metal Element relates to governing the functions of immunity, elimination and also the skin.  The Metal Element is also associated with the emotions of grief and sadness.  Autumn is the season related to the Metal Element and is the time when our lung energy (also known as “Lung Chi”) is the highest.

If our lung energy is strong, we will travel through this period with few respiratory, skin or elimination problems. If our lung energy is weakened, then we are at risk for contracting colds and flu—and any viral or bacterial infections we may become exposed to.

Our lung energy is strengthened by participating in aerobic exercise and by practicing abdominal breathing.  Healing foods that strengthen the lung energy include white foods.

In Chinese Medicine, white is the color that strengthens the Lung/Metal Element. These foods include cauliflower, potato, and apple.  Pears are particularly moisturizing for the lungs. Ginger, turmeric and garlic are important lung tonics. (See the Immune Boosting Tea Decoction recipe below).  Also beneficial are mild curries and chili peppers.

For Tip Top Immune Health, Here’s the Scoop:

1) Keep your neck warm and protected from wind, cold and rain – Make sure that you protect the back of your neck after warming up from exercise and heading out into the cold weather.  Chinese Medicine knows that this is where so-called “Evil Chi” enters the body.

2) Sleep with your windows closed – Again because of the wind or “Evil Chi” issue.  It is important to protect your body from cold drafts during the night.  Keep windows shut, turn off fans, and keep your chest and back covered with a t-shirt or pajama top.

At night, the defensive chi (Wei Chi) of the immune system flows much deeper within the body than during the day, leaving us more vulnerable to being invaded overnight.

3) Take a hot ginger bath – A warm ginger bath can stimulate your immune system and help stave off an impending cold or flu.

Roughly chop a 2-3 inch piece of ginger and boil in two cups of water.  Add this tea to your bath water and soak for approximately 5-10 minutes with one to two cups Epsom salts and one cup baking soda until you have broken a mild sweat.

Don’t stay in the bath for too long as this is draining. Dry off thoroughly and get into bed.  This is a relaxing way to boost your immunity for prevention or if you have been exposed to a potential virus.

4) Avoid alcohol, sugar and excessive grains – Alcohol impairs immune function and it is best to be avoided.  Sugar and grains are pro-inflammatory and put more strain on immune function.

5) Try Acupuncture and Cupping treatments – These Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments are often used for overall health and are recommended for prevention of disease, as well as for treatment of all stages of cold and flu.  Receiving regular treatments will boost immunity.

6) Fortify with herbal medicine – Astragalus Root is a very well-respected Chinese tonic herb/adaptogen that has been used for centuries to target immune support.

I‘ve formulated a standardized extract called Herbal Fortress Astragalus Forte – 500mg.  It contains the most efficacious therapeutic dosage on the market with 18% active polysaccharides and 0.2% flavones per capsule. This therapeutic dose far exceeds other versions.

Dr. Andrew Weil, MD has recommended my brand name products since 1999.  Each product undergoes extensive testing and quality controls and is approved by the FDA for GMPs.  Learn more at www.herbalfortress.com or contact me by e-mail with any questions or comments: [email protected]

7) Drink this Immune Boosting Tea Decoction to help keep your immune system strong and to fight off any viral or bacterial intruders.

Immune Boosting Tea Decoction: 

This savory tea will warm your body and soul—and it has immune protective benefits due to the inclusion of the garlic, ginger and turmeric.


1 head of sliced fresh garlic
2 cups sliced fresh ginger
1 cup sliced fresh turmeric
1 large organic lemon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Honey or stevia to taste (optional)

2 quarts filtered water


1) Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pot of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for approximately an hour, until the tea has reduced by ½.

2) Slice the lemon thinly and add along with cayenne to the pot and boil for another 20 minutes.

4) Let the tea cool. Strain and pour a cup. Add honey or stevia to taste if desired.

The remaining amount can be stored up to 3 days in a glass container.


About Dr. Margo Jordan Parker, OMD:

Dr. Margo Jordan Parker, OMD, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM)(Doctorate in Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Diplomate of the National Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) has been licensed to practice Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine since 1985.  She founded the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Program at Tucson’s Canyon Ranch Spa and Resort, and helped develop Dr. Andrew Weil’s Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. She was also one of the first Acupuncturists in the US to be fully credentialed to work alongside MDs in a teaching hospital. She helped develop the Chinese Medicine curriculum for Dr. Andrew Weil and currently serves as the CEO of Herbal Fortress, which manufactures herbal and aromatherapy products. Visit her online at www.herbalfortress.com.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Teresa

    Dear Ann Louise:

    Thank you for a timely and interesting blog with a twist. I love hearing about all the Eastern approaches to seasonal health and will try the tea that Margo Parker suggests.

  2. Ione Norling

    Very interesting learning about White Foods in Chinese
    Medicine for lung health . thanks .

  3. bruce stadtler

    love most of your stuff,but what is evil chi & wei chi,it sounds like new age to me & as a Christian I could not support it orthe phrase it will warm your body & SOUL it will not warm my soul.I agree with so much of your info but I will not get into new age.Could you tell me if it is?Thank you for your reply,Bruce S.

    • Ann Louise

      Dear Bruce:

      I trust that Dr. Parker has clarified your concerns regarding the terminology used in her comments.

      Thank you.


  4. Teresa

    To Bruce;

    I am also a devout Christian. The terminology you are questioning appears to be the rather picturesque “ancient” Chinese translation of the effects of wind on the system. This is not “New Age” by any means.

    In addition, the language was not used by Ann Louise herself but by her guest Dr. Margo Parker who is a Chinese Medicine Specialist.

    Perhaps you should google the term to get clarity.


  5. Margo Parker

    Hello Bruce – I apologize for offending you, but as Theresa pointed out, Chi and the quaint ancient TCM terminology for endogenous invasion of external pathogens is commonly called “bu qi” in Chinese. Translated as bad, or evil chi. I know many devout Christian Chinese and the concept of Chi or vital life force is not inherently bad or new age. I am also a Christian.

  6. Kathleen

    This is good information, Ann Louise and Margo!! I will keep my window in my bedroom closed and try the bath! Thank you very much. I love Chinese medicine and am gratified the West is catching up to the East in preventive care! Blessings to you.

  7. Steven

    The ancient Chinese have a number of remedies for common winter ailments. Here is a concise list and what each remedy is recommended for:



  1. Fight COLDS AND FLU with These Simple Tips | Ann Louise Gittleman - […] Detox Bath Recipes The Flu and You 7 Surprising Ways to Fight Colds and Flu […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This