Chinese Medicines for Colds, Allergies, and Coughs

Over the years, my friends and doctors have recommended a few Chinese medicines that I have found effective where Western medicines have not been. Of course, since I’m not a physician, I share these observations only as my own experiences. But when all other cures don’t seem to work, I sometime suggest that friends give these a try.

For Common Colds

Yin Chiao Tablets (Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian) battle the common cold. They are available in most Chinese food stores and all Chinese pharmacies, in a green & white box. They come in a brown tablet form and also as green sugar-coated pills. I’ve settled in with the brown tablets (at about $5 for 12 tubes of 8 tablets each, they’re cheaper than the pills). When I take it at the first sign of a cold (I take 4 tablets at a time), it chases away 90% of them with one dose. Alas, it works only when the cold first comes on; once a cold takes hold, Yin Chiao doesn’t do much. So once I notice a sniffle (typically before I go to bed), I take 4 Yin Chiao tablets with a 1/2 glass of water. If I awake with a sniffle (20% of the time), I take another 4 tablets. In about 1/2 of those cases, the cold will develop and the Yin Chiao doesn’t do anything to help. But, as I said, in most cases, the sniffles go away and no cold develops.

When I was in college, I took red Coricidin tablets at the first sign of a cold. They worked for me. Then there were years when I couldn’t find the red Coricidin in drug stores; they had white Coricidin, but they carried warnings about high blood pressure, so I didn’t take them. It looks like the red Coricidin is back, but now I use Yin Chiao instead.

Many years ago, when I complained to Dr. Cai (my Chinese acupuncture/massage therapist), of a cold I had stuffing up my sinuses, he massaged the acupressure points at the side of my nose with the base of his thumbs for several seconds. That immediately and miraculously relieved my nasal congestion. He taught me how to do this on myself.

For Hay Fever and Other Allergies

After I developed hay fever in recent years, Dr. Cai gave me several packets of Banlangen instant crystals. He told me to dissolve a packet in a cup of hot water and take 1 packet in the morning and 1 in the evening with food for about a week to relieve my allergy.

As a bonus, he said the Banlangen was also good for colds, as Yin Chiao tablets are. It certainly helped with my hay fever congestion, sneezes, and watery eyes. Sometimes, the relief was only for an hour or so, though.

I wasn’t able to find the particular brand of Banlangen he gave me (Banlangen Chong Ji), but I found  Fulang Banlangen Keli in the Chinese supermarkets in NYC, Westchester, and Columbus and it seems to work as well. It’s particularly inexpensive, with a bag of 15 packets selling for about $1.00-1.59.

For Coughs

When my Mom complained of a cough that wouldn’t go away, one of her friends sent her a bottle of African Sea Coconut syrup.

The verbiage on the package has changed over the years, but it’s always been in a red and yellow box. Mom and I have used it for persistent coughs. I’ve also given bottles to friends who have suffered coughs that wouldn’t go away for over a week. After just a few doses (1 tablespoon in 1/2 glass of hot water), the coughs have been cured.

One advantage of these Chinese medicines is that I haven’t suffered any side effects from them as I have with Western medicines such as antihistamines and cough syrups (both sometimes make me a little dizzy). They also seem to require fewer doses.


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