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(+86 21) 6345 5101 * 223/ 225


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Cough in Autumn

Cough in Autumn

After autumn, the weather changes from the heat in summer to the cold in the late autumn. The number of patients who come to see a doctor due to cough gradually increases. The main complaint is that the cough gets worse when lying down at night, affecting the rest; during the day, frequent coughing causes people around to be alert and uneasy. Especially now, it is a sensitive period, and patients feel stressed and worried.

Cough, as the most common symptom of cold, tracheitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, covid-19 and other diseases, is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. The good side is that it is a reflex defense reaction of the body, and the body discharges foreign matters of the respiratory tract through cough; The bad side is, with cough, inflammation is easy to spread in the respiratory tract, and in severe cases, it can also cause respiratory bleeding and spontaneous pneumothorax.

Cough can occur all year long, but why is cough more common in autumn?

As we all know, the air in autumn is very dry. According to the etiologic theory of TCM, the dry air in autumn is one of the six normal climate factors (wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness and fire). Generally, it coexists harmoniously with the human body in nature. However, once dryness enters the human body, it might cause disfunction of the inner organs. If a weather condition is so strong that it can cause disease in the body, it is considered being a pathologic climate factor.

The natural climate factor has converted into a pathogenic factor, which is called ” Xie (邪) ” in Chinese. Xie means “evil”, and the dryness has correspondingly become “evil dryness” which is a bad energy for the human body.

According to the Five Elements Theory of TCM, the lung belongs to metal as well as autumn. In autumn, the lung meridian is on duty. So the organ most affected by evil dryness is the lung. According to TCM theory, the lung is a delicate organ which likes moistening but dislikes dryness. It dominates the movement of Qi (life energy) and manages breathing. According to TCM theory the lung is closely related to skin, pore, hair and opens into the nose.

When evil dryness invades the lung, it first damages the body fluid in the lung, the lung fails to purge the airway, lung Qi inverses, and the cough occurs. Concurrently it presents a dry phenomenon, such as dry cough, no sputum or less and sticky sputum, blood in the sputum, dry mouth and nose, itchy throat, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, dry stool, etc.

In the clinical treatment of cough caused by evil dryness in autumn, Chinese herbal medicine can achieve good curative effects. The following is a medical case shared.

Mr. Gao, 50 years old, has suffered from chronic bronchitis for more than 10 years, has no history of smoking. Every year, when the autumn wind blows, cough starts and lasts for several months until the weather gets warm.

The first visit was middle of September. At the time when the residual summer heat was not exhausted and the climate was dry, the air conditioner was used all night while he was sleeping six days ago, which caused him to catch a cold. He began to suffer from dry and itchy throat, dry cough and less phlegm, stuffy and runny nose. After one week of treatment with Chinese herbal medicine to dispel wind and clear the lung, moisten dryness and stop cough, the symptoms were significantly alleviated. He continued to take Chinese herbal medicine for one other week to consolidate the efficacy.

From October to January of the following year, Mr. Gao caught a cold successively three times and had dry cough without phlegm. He was treated with Chinese medicine again, and the cough did not recur. Therefore, he was given Chinese medicine with a view to improving immunity, resisting the invasion of external pathogens and preventing the recurrence of disease.

During the follow-up, Mr. Gao’s feedback was that compared with previous years, after taking Chinese medicine, the frequency and duration of cough were reduced, and after the onset of chronic bronchitis was relieved, the overall health status was good.

According to this case, we can see that people with a deficiency of Lung Qi have a relatively loose texture of their skin and muscles and a poor defence. They are vulnerable to the invasion of wind, cold and dryness and other evils, causing cough. Therefore, they always need to pay attention to keeping warm, especially when the seasons change.

In addition, autumn is also a season when cough is easily induced by various allergens. When carrying out TCM treatment, it is necessary to consider which allergens are in the air. Only by removing the causes of disease effectively, good curative effects can be achieved.

The climate in autumn is dry. In order to avoid further damage to the body fluid, it is recommended to eat less or no spicy food.

In the case of long and dry cough with little sputum and no infection, you can do a famous Chinese dessert by yourself – pear-stewed rock sugar

Prepare pear 1, rock sugar 10g, Chinese wolfberry 15-20

If there is no Chinese wolfberry, it is OK.

Specific steps:

Wash the pear first, cut the top of the pear crosswise, and save it as a cover.

Use a knife or spoon to dig out the pear core.

Put in rock sugar and Chinese wolfberry, cover the upper part of pear on the lower part of pear.

Put the pear into a deep bowl and steam for 1-2 hours until the pear is softened.


Dr. Zheng Shu Hua offers TCM evaluation and treatments in the Downtown (Xintiandi) clinic. Click here to make an appointment with her.