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26/04/2009

Cough treatment

Cough

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are many possible causes of a cough, which is why it is one of the most difficult conditions to treat. An energy imbalance in each of the five major organ networks can lead to a cough—not only a problem with the Lung. From the TCM point of view, the best doctor does not try to stop or suppress a cough, but rather tries to find its root cause and how to release it from your body. Actually, a cough has two faces: on one hand it causes discomfort, and on the other, it has a positive aspect because it is the body's attempt to release something, such as toxins or an energy stagnation. Many Western treatments view a cough in a negative way and try to stop it immediately instead of helping it to be released from the body. Yet be aware of this important point: if a cough is suppressed or pushed deeper into the body, the illness or imbalance that caused it will also be pushed deeper into the body to remain hidden, and the body will then carry this illness or imbalance. Down the road, sooner or later, it will come out as a different condition, for example, as a skin condition such as eczema or a rash—any kind of skin condition. According to TCM understanding, many conditions can have their origin in an untreated cough: asthma, diabetes, and even cancer. So it is important to find the real cause and not take cough medicine to stop the discomfort of a cough right away.

Because TCM sees a cough as being potentially related to different organs, TCM doctors looks at the particular symptoms accompanying a cough in order to understand and diagnose it accurately. For example, the exact location of pain or a body action accompanying the symptom or an emotion experienced provide clues to which organ is vulnerable. In the case of a cough, sometimes a person feels nauseous when coughing. Sometimes a cough can cause rib pain or send you running to the bathroom to urinate. If your cough causes nausea, then it may be related to a Stomach problem; if your ribs are painful when coughing, then this can indicate a Liver imbalance; if you have to urinate when you cough, your Bladder most likely is out of balance.

If you seem to catch a cold every fall, the Lung is probably the vulnerable organ for you. In TCM theory the fall is related to the Lung organ network. If you are particularly vulnerable at this time you should take care to avoid stress and conditions that can lead to a cold. According to TCM the Lung and the Kidney, the organ related to the winter season, have a close relationship: the Kidney is the "child" of the Lung, meaning that the Lung nourishes and supports the energy (called "Qi" in Chinese) of the Kidney. If the Kidney has an energy deficiency, it can continuously pull energy from the Lung, its "mother," and this can prevent your body from healing a cough, and so it becomes a persistent condition, one that can even be carried over into the spring from the preceding fall.

TCM Tips for Healing
To treat a cough, once its root cause has been found, TCM doctors have used the following treatment modalities successfully over the millennia.

Acupuncture on specific meridians (energy pathways) related to the distressed organ (or organs) restores the flow of Qi and rebalances the affected organ or organs.
Herbs in the form of herbal formulas are also used to address the root cause. Bai He Gu Jin Wan is a classical formula frequently used for this condition.
Diet: Certain foods can help heal this condition. Pears cooked with bitter almonds (available at Asian food markets) and honey is very beneficial for a cough as well as white mushrooms, lily bulbs (both also available at Asian food markets) and persimmons.
Traditional Pear Compote
Try making the following traditional recipe.

The essence of pear is cold and it travels to the Lung and Large Intestine meridians, cooling them down. The following recipe is very good for autumn coughs. If the cough is deep and accompanied by phlegm, a handful of almonds can be added to the recipe. Particularly effective are bitter almonds, also available at Asian food markets.

Ingredients
6 pears (any variety), chopped
1/3 cup of rock sugar candy (available at Asian food markets)
1/4 cup of water
Directions
Place all ingredients in a 2-quart covered pot in a double boiler. (If you do not have a double boiler, place the covered pot containing the pears in another larger pot with several inches of water in it. The larger, outside pot is the one that comes into contact with the heat source.)

Double boil on low to medium heat for approximately 40 minutes until the pears are soft. Stir gently and serve warm in a bowl.

Makes about 4 servings.

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