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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit on January 12, 2023

Best TCM Influenza Treatments To Help You Feel Better Fast

Published | 6 min read

With the flu season in full swing, it's a good idea to keep these TCM influenza treatments handy to recover quickly and fight future infections.

Influenza treatments min scaled

Influenza treatments may include a variety of both Western medicine and natural remedies. During this time of year, it’s important to keep both on hand to help reduce flu symptoms as quickly as possible.

However, while over-the-counter treatments are available, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedies often work just as well. They can help strengthen your body’s natural defenses to help protect against severe health complications.

Read on to learn how to identify the flu based on your symptoms. Then apply these TCM-based influenza treatments to help you feel better fast.

Influenza: Causes, Types, And Symptoms

A woman outside in the rain holding an umbrella and sneezing into a tissue
In TCM, changes in the weather can bring about influenza symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines influenza as a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.

As the name suggests, it’s caused by the influenza virus. There are two types: A and B. Of these two types, influenza A is more common.

In TCM, changes in weather conditions cause the flu. This brings about six external pathogens that affect our health: Wind (Feng), Summer-Heat (Shu), Dampness (Shi), Fire (Huo), Dryness (Zao), and Cold (Han). These pathogens can affect your body individually or in combination.

Many people confuse the flu with the common cold. Although both diseases attack the respiratory system, influenza symptoms differ from the common cold. 

Development of symptoms Sudden Gradual 
Aches Usual Mild 
Chills Fairly Common Uncommon 
Diarrhea Sometimes Rare 
Fatigue Common Sometimes 
Headache Common Rare 
Nasal congestion Sometimes Sometimes 
Loss of appetite Common Sometimes 
Shortness of breath Sometimes Mild 
Cough and chest discomfort Common Mild to Moderate 
Runny nose and sore throat Sometimes Common 
Loss of taste and smell Sometimes Sometimes 
Use this chart to help you determine whether you need influenza treatment or cold relief.

How does it spread?

Influenza is contagious. The virus spreads from flu patients through tiny droplets they release when they cough, sneeze or talk. Healthy people will get infected when the airborne virus particles come in contact with their noses, mouths, or throats.

In rare cases, the virus can spread through contact transmission. People might get the flu when they touch their mouth, nose, or eyes after coming in contact with a surface or object with the virus. 

Adults with the flu can spread the virus at least one day before they develop symptoms. Then, they become the most contagious three to four days after the illness begins. The CDC notes that immunocompromised adults and children might be able to infect others for an even longer time. 

Once exposed to the virus, a person will begin showing symptoms within one to four days. 

Who is most at risk?

Influenza can happen to anyone, but some people are at a higher risk of suffering from complications. These include children younger than five years old, pregnant women, patients with chronic medical conditions (asthmadiabetesheart disease, and lung disease), and the elderly. 

For the high-risk group, influenza can lead to severe pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections. It can also make existing diseases worse, causing death.

How Do I Prevent The Need For Influenza Treatments?

TCM believes people fall ill when they have weak protective qi. The Lungs circulate protective qi throughout the body and within the muscles and skin to protect and regulate body temperature. If Lung qi is deficient, your immune system will be weak and you’re prone to falling ill.

Preventive actions such as washing your hands regularly, staying away from the sick, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze are simple but can go a long way. 

TCM Influenza Treatments To Try

To strengthen your immune system, TCM suggests getting some sun in to boost yang qi. If you have Yang Deficiency, TCM advises you to get sufficient rest, avoid late nights and eat more vegetables and fruits.

Qi Deficiency can be managed by having meals at consistent times and exercising. 

A qualified TCM physician can help differentiate the pathogens needed to treat the symptoms and prescribe suitable treatments. Here are some possible influenza treatments a TCM physician might recommend:

Herbal remedies

You can use TCM herbs like thyme (Bai Li Xiang) and honeysuckle flower (Jin Yin Hua), which have antiviral properties to combat flu.

  • Echinacea root (Zi Zhui), eucalyptus (An Shu) and ginseng (Ren Shen) strengthen immunity against influenza viruses. 

However, consult with a certified TCM practitioner before consuming these herbs. 


Massaging a few acupressure points consistently will help improve your overall well-being too. The acupoints to work on are He Gu (LI4), Zu San Li (ST36), and Wai Guan (SJTE5).

Influenza Treatments If You Are Already Showing Symptoms

Influenza can be treated by: 

  • Taking medications 
  • Getting enough rest 
  • Eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables 
  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Taking prescribed antiviral drugs within the first two days of symptoms, when needed 
  • Drink wolfberry and chrysanthemum tea (Gou Qi Ju Hua Cha), which can be effective in treating fever, headache, and coughs.

Don’t self-diagnose your condition. Influenza symptoms can resemble the common cold but may worsen over time. Follow lifestyle measures to reduce risk, and if you have concerns about your symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor. 

Additionally, taking an herbal flu relief supplement and getting a flu vaccine every year can help prevent it while reducing the risk of complications.

Flu shots enable the body’s immune system to recognize the virus while herbal remedies may help reduce flu-like symptoms.

However, as we’ve learned from the pandemic, the virus can mutate. As a result, you may need to get a flu shot every year.

What home remedies do you use to overcome the flu quickly? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

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