Boosting your Immune System in Autumn: a Chinese Medicine Approach to Wellness

Published : 04/25/2017 17:42:11
Categories : Health

From a Chinese medicine perspective, autumn is the time of the lungs. The most common problems this time of year are immune and lung related. Many people complain of common colds, flu, asthma and bronchitis.

How do you prevent these ailments and optimise your health during autumn? What should you do at the first signs of a cold, and how can Chinese medicine help?

After an extended summer in Victoria, autumn has finally hit. The days are now shorter, weather cooler, and the natural world is preparing for winter. In nature, the trees and animals are conserving the energy they accumulated during the summer months, entering a period of hibernation. This should be the theme for humans as well.

In summer, the sun provides an abundance of yang energy. This allows us to then expend large amounts of energy without creating any negative consequences in our health. However, problems arise when people continue to expend large amounts of energy during the cooler months, as the main source of yang energy is now gone.  

Activities such as long periods of socialisation, going to bed late, and even eating cold salads during the winter months can thus lead to lower energy and poor immune function.

So how can we protect our energy and boost immune function to prevent illness?

  1. Go to bed early & rise with the sun
  2. Dress for the season to prevent against loss of heat & invasion of cold. Wear a scarf or jacket that covers your neck.
  3. Eat warmer, nourishing foods such as porridge with stewed fruit and cinnamon, soups, stews and casseroles.
  4. Practice deep breathing to strengthen lungs & remove mucus. Inhale for the count of 6, hold a moment and exhale for the count of 12.
  5. Reduce exercise to a comfortable level to prevent over exertion.
  6. Acupuncture is great at the change of season to strengthen the body’s immune system. Research has shown an increase in immune cells directly after acupuncture treatment.

What to do at the first sign of cold symptoms

Symptoms of Wind Cold Attack:

  •          Feeling cold/and or have an aversion to cold
  •          Stuffy or runny nose with clear watery phlegm
  •          Sneezing and coughing
  •          Aching limbs

-These are often the very early signs of a cold. Booking in for cupping and acupuncture with herbal medicine at the first sign of these symptoms can provide immediate relief.

-Try and sweat out the cold by using this combination:  Eat a spicy soup with ginger, chili, spring onion, coriander, pepper, garlic, root vegetables and broth, then take a hot bath or visit a sauna.

-Consume hot, spicy drinks such as chai tea and mulled wine.

Follow these recommendations for a day, as this may be enough to ward off the cold.

Symptoms of Wind Heat Attack:

  •          Burning sore throat
  •          Frequent cough
  •          Yellow phlegm
  •          Fever
  •          Headaches

-A wind cold attack can quickly change to a wind heat attack, and therefore the treatment also changes. Bear in mind the cold can also start as a wind heat attack.

-Herbal medicine and acupuncture are also effective at this stage of a cold. In clinic it is not uncommon for a sore throat to disappear on the treatment table.

-Consume cool pungent foods such as fresh mulberry leaves, Chinese cabbage, mung beans, turnips, pears, black soy beans, watermelon, and tofu.


Autumn is my favourite time of year, especially on the Surfcoast. Bundle up and enjoy!



  Dr Paul Carter

  Acupuncturist & Herbalist

 Practicing from Sequence Osteo (within Yoke Yoga Torquay)


Share this content