Ask the Acupuncturist: How Do I Stop This Cold?

Sneezing, itchy throat, body aches. You know that feeling you get when you’re about to come down with a cold. These symptoms are your body’s way of trying to push out the pathogen. Thankfully, Chinese Medicine has a few ways of helping you along.

In acupuncture theory, we call this “releasing the exterior”. Because the pathogen is invading from the outside, it has to go through the first line of defense, namely, our skin and mucous membranes. If you can get these defenses to push out the pathogen before it takes hold, you won’t get sick. Here’s how.

1.     Take a Raincheck – It’s very important that you get lots of sleep to help your body heal, so if you’ve got plans, cancel them. Go home as early as you can manage.

2.     Acupressure Lung 7 – The premiere point for releasing the exterior. Find it by tracing down your thumb, right down the line where the skin changes color, to the wrist. You’ll go over a bump, then fall into a depression. That is Lung 7. Using the opposite thumb, massage in a circular motion for 1 minute, then switch sides. You can apply a drop of eucalyptus essential oil on the point for even stronger results. Repeat this every hour for the rest of the day

acupuncture for colds

3.     Drink some Magic Broth – Ginger and scallions are two herbs we use to release the exterior. Make the recipe below, and drink it as hot as you can stand it, just before moving on to the next step.

4.     Take a Hot Bath – Or a hot shower. Again, as hot as you can stand it. When you get out of the bath/shower, wrap yourself up tight and go straight to bed. Get to bed early enough that you can get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, preferably 9-10 hours.

This whole process should cause you to sweat, and maybe your nose to run. This is your body pushing out the pathogen, so don’t fight it. When you wake up in the morning, you should feel much better, but take it easy during the day. If your immune system is really weak, you may have to do this two nights in a row to completely get rid of the cold.  If you can manage to do all of these steps at the first sign of a cold – you may never get sick again!

Magic Broth

Serves 1

1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 c. water (or use bone broth)
1 tsp. miso (the darker the better)
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced

Combine ginger and water or broth in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger tea, stir in the miso, then top with scallions and drink.


Elizabeth Williams is an acupuncturist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of Dragonfly Acupuncture & Massage, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313, or scheduled online here.