Modern day life is full of stress and and various ways that push people physically and emotionally. At times the stresses become too much and people catch a cold, or have to find ways to take a break and de-stress. Similar to a computer that will “lock up” when too many things conflict in the system, the human body at times will lock up in much the same way. Occasionally patients hit the right combination of physical weakness, emotional stress and exposure to a cold virus which they are not prepared for.
This concept in Chinese Herbal medicine is referred to as a shao yang disorder. Described in the ancient herbal text the Shang Han Lun, Shao yang disorders represent a special case in regards to herbal medicine. Simple herbal concepts of clearing or strengthening the body through the use of herbs are ineffective in these types of conditions. Instead herbs must be used to harmonize and correct the imbalances in the physical and emotional management systems of the body. The main herbal formula for these situations is a Xiao Chai Hu tang, which is very effective at quickly clearing this type of situation.
There is no single equivalent concept in Biomedical medicine. Shao yang disorders by their nature display a variety of symptoms that result from the “locking up” of the management system of the body. Symptoms can include cold and flu symptoms as well as headaches, body aches, fullness in chest and throat, nausea, and often alternating fever and chills. In general the patient feels terrible in multiple ways and has a feeling that the problem is more than a simple common cold. Every patient presents slightly different symptoms based on how their body responded to the situation. From a treatment standpoint the herbalist will use a formula like Xiao Chai hu tang, regardless of the specific symptoms and get to the root of the management imbalance in the body.
Early autumn is a prime time for these conditions. Stress from changes in family schedules and exposure to many viruses in school along with rapidly changing weather and the stress of modern life, can create the right environment where a shao yang disorder can emerge. In general, the body will eventually correct the imbalances that go with this type of condition over the course of a week or more. Quick application of the proper herbal medicines can shorten the duration of the condition. If you regularly run into this type of situation, talk to a nationally board certified herbalist and find out how you can relieve this situation quickly.