How to prevent, shorten and inhibit common viruses: A Chinese medicine practitioner opinion

Chinese herbal medicine has saved me many a time from pesky colds and more serious flus over the years. When taken at the right time, during or even before you get sick, a Chinese herbal formula can be your best friend. Often preventing or shortening a bad illness. Over the past ten years of practicing I have witnessed first hand clinically how true this is. Amongst the many studies on Chinese herbal formulas there are years, well hundreds to thousands to be exact, of anecdotal evidence to support this claim. Normally, a Chinese medicine formula should be prescribed by a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner because they will be able to evaluate your circumstance and come up with the right formula. In this article however,my goal is to create an easy guide for how to tackle some of today’s more serious and prevalent viruses. Because sometimes we can’t leave the house when we are home sick.   

Let’s talk prevention

To prevent the more serious viruses and seasonal flus floating around I recommend taking the following daily. I have included both supplements and Chinese herbal formulas that are generally safe for most people. Note: this is solely my perspective and is outlining what I personally have found success with. Take at your own risk and always speak to a doctor or professional before starting a supplemental and or herbal regime.  

N-Acetyl-Cysteine: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a dietary supplement derived from the amino acid L-cysteine is a glutothione precursor. It is used as an antidote for acetaminophen overdose. As an antioxidant, it is thought to reduce DNA damage. NAC is also known for its liver-protective properties and to support healthy immune functioning. In humans, NAC can dissolve and loosen mucus caused by some respiratory disorders. Also great for post-workout recovery. I recommend taking 900mg, twice per day. 

Jade Wind Screen Formula a.k.a Yu Ping Feng San. Literally, the name YPFS means Jade Screen, thus forming a solid screen to protect our body. Astragali Radix, called “the senior of all herbs” in the Essentials of the Materia Medica (A.D. 1694), is considered the best immune tonic herb in stabilizing and strengthening the protective “Qi”. This formula is composed of Astragali Radix; Huang qi; the root of Astragalus membranaceus or Astragalus membranaceus , Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma, Baizhu; the rhizomes of Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz and Saposhnikoviae Radix, Fangfeng; the roots of Saposhnikovia divaricata. Most people should take 2-4 pills each day to prevent illness. 

Vitamin D3! I always recommend getting a blood test to get your vitamin D levels checked. Optimal levels of Vitamin D in the blood should range from between 40 and 60 ng/mL for both children and adults according to experts. Anything below 20ng/ml is considered a serious deficiency and should be treated accordingly by your doctor. Recommended doses should be determined by your health care practitioner. 

OK, I’m sick. Now what?

Here I will list 3 important Chinese medicine formulas and one crucial supplement that should be taken at different phases of an illness depending on your symptoms. 

  1. Jing Feng Bai Du San, this formula can be taken when you are just feeling a little ‘off’. Perhaps you have some chills, body aches and a fever. Take this formula at a higher dose of 4 pills 3-5 times per day. Here’s where to get it.
  2. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan. Maybe your symptoms have now progressed to gastrointestinal discomfort with cramping, loose stools, nausea or vomiting. If this is happening take this formula plus formula #1 at 4-6 pills 3-5 times per day. This formula can be purchased here.
  3. Xiao Qing Long Tang, this formula will most likely only be available Ephedra free. Don’t worry it still works great. Take this for a fast moving respiratory phase with shortness of breath and inability to breathe well. I recommend purchasing this formula as a liquid here. Take 3-4 droppers full every 2 hours until resolved. 
  4. A really great supplement to take during all three of these phases is, Vitamin C with Quercitin, this can be found here. This PubMed article states, “Ascorbic acid is a crucial vitamin necessary for the correct functioning of the immune system. It plays a role in stress response and has shown promising results when administered to the critically ill. Quercetin is a well-known flavonoid whose antiviral properties have been investigated in numerous studies. There is evidence that vitamin C and quercetin co-administration exerts a synergistic antiviral action due to overlapping antiviral and immunomodulatory properties and the capacity of ascorbate to recycle quercetin, increasing its efficacy.”  When ill, take between 1g and 5g per day over the course of the day so that it can be absorbed well into the body.

The aftermath

So you are technically ‘better’ and have made it through the worst of it. But you still feel crummy. Headaches, occasional chills, aches chronic fatigue, brain fog or memory problems? 

Here’s what to take:

The Chinese Medicine formula, Shi Quan Da Bu Tang: Can be found here. This formula has been known to help post viral fatigue and malaise. Take 4-5 pills three times per day until symptoms improve. 

During this post viral phase it is crucial to continue vitamin C with Quercetin at a higher dose and add in your NAC again. And of course plenty of rest, sunlight and purified water never hurts. 

Sometimes it can be overwhelming knowing what to take and when. Hopefully this serves as a guide for the next time you feel under the weather. Of course there are many things you can take in addition too or instead of, within the pharmacopeia of antiviral herbs. When in doubt, always check in with a professional. 

Wanting to seek help locally? There are several Chinese Medicine Practitioners at Well Balanced Center for Integrative Care in Eugene, Oregon that can start you off on the right path. Click here.

Written by Kileen Swenson LAc MAOM