Cold and flu in the summer are always a strange surprise, though not entirely unexplainable. If you live in a hot area, you’ll notice that offices and homes tend to crank up the air conditioner in the summertime, making our daily journeys in and out of buildings a real challenge for our immune system.

Chinese medicine does not recognize illnesses as “flu”, but categorizes the entire situation of the person by his or her warmth/coldness, dampness/dryness, etc. What Western medicine would call a cold, or a flu, usually falls into one of two categories: wind-cold and wind-heat. Wind cold is a cold which leads one to be sluggish, cold, and inactive; wind heat tends to be accompanied by fever and redness. Both, but particularly the former, are associated with dampness, which manifests itself as phlegm.

Milk and dairy products are generally considered to increase phlegm in the body, and are therefore not recommended at times when one has a cold. Whether one eats cold or hot foods (which would depend on the type of cold one has), drying, anti-inflammatory foods are of essence. When in doubt, the three winning ingredients are garlic, ginger, and lemon.

Here are some things you might want to try next time you have a cold:

* Ginger-lemon tea (affectionately referred to here as “lemon-ginj”)
* Thai curries, preferrably soy-based (coconut milk is a bit rich for ill, sluggish systems, though also good)
* Spicy stir-frys with garlic and ginger
* Tchina with lots of lemon and garlic
* vegetable stock with a bit of grated ginger on top

Be well!

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  1. That plus a quick garlic-clove soup: boil two-three cups of water, add 4-6 big cloves of garlic, enough soy sauce to make it salty and one long-cooking veggie (broc, cauli, carrot).

    It helps incredibly – especially in those dens of airconditioning…

  2. This one’s great, Shunra!
    Actually, I think I’ve eaten something like it, in a small restaurant in Puyo, Ecuador, in the middle of the Amazonian jungle. My dad and I were going for a two-day trip to the rainforest, and stopped for our last “civilized” meal. He had onion soup, I had garlic soup; we figured we wouldn’t be meeting very many people for two days, so decided on “antisocial” soups. Not that I wouldn’t gladly eat more of that soup in the city – garlic is a culinary miracle!
    I will make this for dinner tomorrow. Chad and I both need a warm, liquid immune boost that isn’t a tea.

  3. My dear, that soup of yours got me up and running in half a day. It’s a miracle potion. It’s being added to the family medicine canon as we speak.

  4. Ain’t it amazing? I’m not sure whether the deal is the garlic or the hot-salty-liquid, but it has done exactly that for me ever since it was taught to me (in a very low-key manner) by a Chinese friend who also taught me how to cook rice.

    (Not that I hadn’t been cooking rice before he started coming over… …to play with my cat (because cats felt more homelike to him than anything; cats are apparently cats worldwide, and he spoke fluent Cat, as did the late, lamented Bampi)… …but now I do it *well*).

    Glad you’re feeling better!

  5. This all looks so delicious! I could go for some ginger-containing foods right now. So glad you’re feeling better too!

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