acupuncture, Diet, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

5 Chinese medicine tips to soothe a sore throat

Cold & flu tea, with lemon and honey.
Peppermint tea with lemon and honey.

It seems there are some sore throats going around at the moment which is characteristic of a time when there is change in the weather. (Just think about above-average high temperatures, windy days and sometimes a drop off in temperature after a storm.) In addition we all get a lot more social out and about in spring this increases our risk of picking up a spring/summer cold virus. And this all happens when many of us are run down from a very busy year, pushing through to the Christmas/New Year break. (If you are feeling run down make sure to book in for an appointment to get your energy and immune system back on track – the last thing you want is to get sick on your holidays!)

A sore throat is often your first warning sign that you have picked up a bug. Act immediately on your treatment to prevent the sore throat developing into a full blown cold or to at least lessen the severity of one.

If you have picked up a sore throat (often termed a wind-heat attack in Chinese medicine as symptoms are sudden and usually hot in nature – feverish, sweating, yellow/green phlegm).

Here’s my top five tips to put out the fire and soften the razor blades of a sore throat:

  1. Salt water gargles. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a small glass of warm water. Gargle as many times per day as you can.
  2. Peppermint tea with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey. Lemon and peppermint are cooling but peppermint also helps to promote the release of the ‘wind-heat pathogen’ by opening the pores and honey will moisten a dry throat. Drink this likes it’s water as you will need to keep your fluids up anyway. Mulberry leaves and chrysanthemum may also be added to the tea.
  3. Pear anything. Eat fresh pears, cook them or juice them (small amounts regularly). Pears are used in Chinese medicine to cool and moisten a sore throat. Watermelon and figs are other sore throat favourites.
  4. Herbal medicine. The big guns! A personalised herbal formula can be made up for your individual symptoms. Often your formula can be gargled so that you get the local action of the herbs prior to swallowing. A herbal throat spray can also be convenient and welcome relief.
  5. Acupuncture. We have some excellent acupuncture techniques for taking the heat out of a sore throat quickly and addressing other symptoms like sinus congestion.

If you have come down with a common cold or flu check out these cold and flu tips to manage your other symptoms.

And remember at the first sign of a sore throat use these tips immediately!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, herbal medicine, pregnancy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Preserved lemons: traditional Chinese use and a recipe

lemons preservedA couple of months ago I put on my very first batch of home made preserved lemons. I did a deal with my parents. They supplied the homegrown organic lemons and two big jars, and I’d do the hard work of slicing, juicing, salting and storing – we’d end up with a big jar of the finished product each.

Well, as it turns out they are as delicious as any I’ve ever bought and well worth the two month wait. I followed the Poh’s Kitchen recipe but I left my lemons in halves split down the middle (as if quartered) but still attached by the rind. I stuffed the salt into the split.

Preserved lemons are often associated with Moroccan cooking, in particular tagines. But they also have been used in parts of Asia.  When I was teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dietetics class last semester our very traditional Chinese text mentioned the preserved lemon. This salty and sour delicacy was said to be useful for “vomiting and loss of appetite or threatened abortion.” Which makes it a good food for relieving morning sickness. In fact, many women find that lemon or lime juice added to water does ease nausea associated with pregnancy. As for preventing miscarriage, well there are no clinical trials to back up this claim (and if you suspected that your pregnancy was at risk I’d be recommending a medical check up). But this traditional use relates to the the sour flavour which has an astringent, constricting quality and the salty flavour which benefits the Kidneys (the organ in TCM responsible for reproduction and birth, among many other functions). Another text recommends them for Phlegm-Heat disorders including bronchitis and sinusitis and Liver Qi stagnation (if you don’t know what that is click here).

The other interesting thing about Chinese preserved lemons is that they are said to be a specialty of around the city of Nanning in Guangxi province, China. It was in this region that I completed my acupuncture internship at several teaching hospitals. The Zhuang people, an ethnic minority, used preserved lemons in their congee (Chinese rice porridge). Their preserved lemons are stored for far longer (eg. years) and look quite different. Here’s some more information and a recipe. Interestingly, during my studies in Nanning I also learned some traditional medicine techniques of the Zhuang people.

lemons lemons juiced lemons halved

I think they are simply delicious. If you want some recipes that feature preserved lemons as an ingredient, click here.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.