Chinese Herbalism 101
The first set of herbs I learned in Chinese medicine school were the herbs that Release the Exterior. These are herbs that promote a light sweat, open the pores, and push out pathogens that are trying to get in from the outside.
We have an immune system that protects us like an army. In Chinese medicine, this is called our Wei Qi. If pathogenic invaders get past our initial defenses, a fight begins and we feel chills, fever, and tight muscles as a result.
Our prognosis depends on 1) the strength of the pathogen 2) the strength of our defenses 3) the strength of our deeper resources and 4) our internal environment and how hospitable it is to the pathogens.
We can’t control the strength of the pathogen, but we can use diet, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, herbs and supplements to make our defenses stronger and create an environment that, basically, grows flowers not weeds.
In order to give our army a hand in pushing out the invaders, we use herbs that open the pores and promote a light sweat in order to push them out. If we catch the pathogens at a superficial level, we can often avoid getting a full blown cold. Good news: some of the herbs are foods that you can find in any grocery store!