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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Spring Onion for Common Cold in Chinese Medicine

Common Herbs for the Common Cold

I was resting after clinic last Thursday afternoon when I received a text message from my friend Dr. Adrian Rabe.  He asked me if I would guest on a TV show, Pinoy MD, to talk about common household herbs that can be used for the common cold.  I had to talk about the scientific evidence regarding the use of onions, garlic, and ginger in this regard.  Of course, I agreed.

After taping the segment the following day, I came to a realization.  The show was talking about onion bulbs, but I then recalled that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is not the bulb that is used for the common cold.  Rather, it is the scallion.  In Chinese, this is called Cong Bai.

Spring Onion is used in Chinese Medicine in the Early stages of colds

Spring Onion is used in Chinese Medicine in the Early stages of colds

Cong Bai

To be precise, Cong Bai is the white part of the scallion stalk.  It would be great if you can get the stuff with some roots intact.  It’s main use is to help in decongesting runny noses.  However, since Cong Bai is warm in nature, it should only be used in the early stages of Wind-Cold.  If the snot is not watery or clear, but is thick and yellowish, then other solutions are indicated.

How to use Onion for Common Cold

For young children, I would recommend boiling 3-5 pieces of the white part of the scallion.  While it is hot and steamy, the vapors may be inhaled to help loosen mucus in the nose.

Image courtesy of khunaspix

Image courtesy of khunaspix

Later, the decoction may be also be drunk to help promote perspiration.  Do not mix with honey, though.

Another way to use Cong Bai is to decoct together with ginger to drink later.  Again, this should not be used for sore throats or signs of Heat such as high fever or yellowish, thick sputum.

Do you find that it works for you? Let us know!

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