The treatment of colds, influenza, and other fast-moving pathogenic diseases was high medical science in ancient China. One of the earliest surviving and most influential texts on herbal medicine was the Shang Han Lun, describing the treatment of the progression of colds.

Home remedies are by nature milder than the kind of treatment you could get with a qualified physician or Chinese medical practitioner, but they can still be quite effective, and easier on the wallet!

Here are a couple of easy ways to treat yourself for the common cold using a few kitchen ingredients.

Scallion and Prepared Soybean Decoction


  • Scallions (green onions), 3-5 stalks
  • Prepared (fermented black) soybeans, 12-30 grams


  • Soak the ingredients in water for 20 minutes. The water should be enough to cover the ingredients just by an inch or so.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Strain the liquid into a container.
  • Add more water and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  • Combine the liquid.
  • Drink!

This decoction is suitable for mild colds. You can tell that it’s working if you break into a mild sweat.

Ginger Bath

Ginger Baths are applicable at the onset of a cold, and work best if you have chills and are not sweating or sweating only slightly.

Raw ginger

At night before sleep:

  • Thinly slice roughly 2-3 inches (about 1.5 ounces) of raw ginger and add to 3-4 quarts of boiling water.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Draw hot water into a bathtub sufficient to cover the body.
  • Add the ginger water and soak in the bath when water is cooled enough to tolerate.
  • Soak in bath for 10-30 minutes depending on the strength of the individual. (Decocted ginger can also be applied as a soak or a compress.)

After the bath, dry thoroughly. Get into bed wearing very warm bed clothes and a wool cap and cover with very warm blankets. Expect to sweat profusely. Change bed clothes as often as the sweat soaks them. Do not wipe the sweat down or try to remove the sweat. Stay in bed until morning.

The idea is to “sweat out” the invading pathogen, which in Chinese medical terms is thought of more literally as “cold.” The more severe the chills you experience, the warmer you should stay and the longer you should sweat. In milder cases, the ginger itself is not necessary; a hot bath may suffice.

These remedies are easy ways to speed your way through a cold. If it gets too strong, though, you might be better off getting some help. The herbal pharmacy at Acupuncture Ecology includes easy-to-take prepared medicines that can be selected based on your specific condition—customized, like most everything else.

If you need that level of help, feel free to give me a call and I’ll give you whatever assistance I can without breaking the bank.

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