• Sarah Bartle

Use Traditional Chinese Medicine to Protect Your Health during Spring

Updated: Apr 9, 2019


Springtime in Chicago is a special season where Monday we are wearing parkas and barely recognizable under hats, gloves and scarves. Tuesday is warm but rainy and gray. By Wednesday half the city has painful joints and is sneezing on their coworkers. I will share some tried and true methods of Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) to keep you healthy during spring time weather fluctuations. And maybe tell your coworker to cover their mouth.


  1. In TAM we view fluctuating weather as a potential “wind invasion”. A preventative technique for "wind" is to keep the wind from blowing on the back of your neck. Simply wearing a scarf is enough to keep your neck protected.

  2. Foods to eat: Eat “pungent” herbs to release “wind” pathogens. Garlic, ginger, onions, cloves and black pepper have a warming, pungent quality. These foods are good to incorporate in your meals when you feel under the weather. Add these ingredients for your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.

  3. Cold and Flu time tea contains a unique formula of herbs to release “wind” pathogen. Add lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat.

  4. Practice gua sha as soon as you feel cold symptoms. Gua sha is an ancient technique to release “wind” that has invaded the neck area. Follow the instructions below and let us know if you need a gua sha tool or Po Sum On oil.

  • Sprinkle a drop or two of Po Sum On Oil (or other lotion/oil) on the skin. Smooth it around with your fingers or a cotton ball.

  • Use the gua sha tool to scrape the skin until the skin turns pink and/or small red dots (petechiae) show up on the area around the C7 vertebral bone (sticks out the most on your neck when you bend your head forward). Stroke from the base of head down the neck and across shoulders. Focus on the area close to the bone. If your sinuses are congested, include the area on the back of your head and upper neck near your hairline. Ideally, scrape the skin in the same direction, usually from the area that is closest to the center of your body out to the outermost end (not circular).

  • Remember - do not cause pain when scraping the skin – apply enough pressure to bring up the red dots but not so much that it hurts. Sometimes the skin will turn pink without developing petechiae dots. If you do not have a gua sha tool, you can use a spoon with the rounded lip and gently scrap over fabric.

Practicing these techniques will keep you in tip top shape during cold and flu season.

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