Modern ills, Ancient pills

Modern ills, Ancient pills


With the next wave of the virus seemingly upon us and a new strain that doesn’t seem to be that interested in whether we are vaccinated or not, it is probably a good time to try and make sure our immune system is functioning to its full capacity. There are many ways to achieve this but I find it pleasing and almost poetic, that a virus that was discovered (and let’s face it probably created) in modern China, may be treated and prevented using knowledge from the same country’s ancient past.


I have spoken at length before about acupuncture’s ability to improve and tonify the immune system but acupuncture is only one branch of the vast tree that is Traditional Chinese Medicine. Another branch and probably the oldest form of medicine known to man is that of herbal medicine. Whilst I am not qualified as such to prescribe Chinese herbs I do know a fair bit about them as all Chinese medical theory is based on the same principles. If something is too hot, we seek to cool it, if something is too weak, we seek to strengthen it, if something enters the body that is pathogenic then we seek to expel it.


Each Chinese herb has an energetic quality to it that can be used to help rebalance the body. Take Huang Qi for example, otherwise known as Astragalus root. This is in the class of herbs known as the supertonics and is said to strengthen the primary energy of the body as well as all metabolic, respiratory and eliminative functions. It is also an adaptogen which helps the body deal with changes. It focuses mainly on the Lungs and Spleen and is said to have an effect on the ‘surface’ of our body. This indicates that it tonifies our wei qi or protective energy and therefore helps to fortify our body’s first line of defence against pathogens. It therefore follows that astragalus could be a very useful herb in helping to protect us against viruses.

Whilst it is possible to take Chinese herbs singularly, the true art of Chinese Herbalism comes in the combining of various herbs into a formula. Here the varying energetic qualities of the herbs come together to create synergistic relationships that are even more beneficial for health. This level of skill is beyond me but luckily Chinese herbal formulas have been refined, honed and passed down over thousands of years and there are a vast array of classical combinations that we can choose from.

One such formula, devised by a local expert herbalist and friend of mine, is known as the ‘Resist Illness’ formula. This is largely based upon astragalus and codonopsis roots but it also has a supporting cast of another dozen herbs to help balance and strengthen the combination. For the past 18 months or so, since this pandemic began, I have taken this herbal remedy regularly. Just a few capsules here and there but if I ever get a slight tingling in the throat then I up the dose to about 20 capsules and so far (and believe me I am touching wood whilst I write this) I can honestly say that I haven’t had a day’s illness since.

Obviously one man’s story is clearly not any kind of scientific evidence and there is a lot to be said for plenty of fresh air and vitamin C, both of which I am an advocate for, but there is plenty of research being done, mainly in China, that clearly supports the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside and even instead of more modern approaches. To be truly healthy is to be able to adapt to changes in the external and internal environments and still maintain a state of wellness and when we are faced with a virus that is clearly well versed in adapting, it pays to try and stay one step ahead.

More information on the ‘Resist Illness’ formula can be found at or call in to Glastonbury Acupuncture at 1 Hanover Square where I have some in stock.

Leave a Comment