Kids’ coughs, colds may last weeks but don’t need drugs – from Medscape

An interesting article about  kids’ coughs and colds.


For the actual research paper, click here.

Traditional Chinese Medicine 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), colds are due to imbalance of relative strengths between pathogens and a person’s immunity (called as Wei Qi – Protective Qi – in Chinese). If pathogens are relatively too strong for the person’s immunity, the person will develop symptoms.

If the person’s immunity is relatively too weak for the pathogens, the person will also manifest symptoms. If I’m allowed to simplify, biomedical approach to colds can be thought to try to weaken the strength of the pathogen (if the medication is the right kind) or to relieve the symptoms.

On the other hand, TCM approach can be thought to strengthen the person’s Wei Qi. Therefore both have their place. The matter is when you need which one.

My Suggestion…

  1.  At the beginning of a pathogenic attack, try to boost the person’s Wei Qi by resting (sleep more, work less, and no exercise), good nutritive foods (warm and succulent soups and teas with lots of garlic, ginger, and cinnamon) and acupuncture.
  2. If the battle is giving way to the pathogen, try to weaken the pathogen with herbs or relieve symptoms with medications.

For a great website regarding natural remedies vs. antibiotics, click here

Losing the Battle

Now how do we know if the person, especially a child, is losing the battle?
The commonly used measurement is a high temperature. However the high temperature is the evidence of the body’s Wei Qi still in battle against the pathogen and therefore it should not be suppressed unnecessarily in TCM.

My Recommendation…

  • Watch his or her sleep pattern. If he/she sleeps reasonably OK, his/her Wei Qi is doing fine.
  • Some will say when a child has fever, he/she cannot sleep well, so ‘the same thing’. No, it’s not the same.
  • If the child wakes up to cough but falls asleep again easily, the child can restore his/her Qi during the night and can defend him/herself well.
  • Usually it is her/his mother (or father)  who cannot go back to sleep, worries and feels like they have ‘had enough’.


Support the parents. Take turns in looking after the sick child (Mom’s turn one night, dad’s next night, etc.).