The Merck Manual describes the common cold or upper respiratory infection as an acute, usually a febrile, viral infection of the respiratory tract, with inflammation in any or all airways, including the nose, sinuses, throat, larynx, and often the trachea and bronchi. Fever and more severe symptoms are characteristic of influenza (flu). Colds and flu are caused by hundreds of different viruses.
Many millions of people all over our planet suffer from the common cold at one time or another. Historically, millions of people have died in flu epidemics.
Nearly two thousand years ago in China, Zhang Zhong-Jing wrote the famous Oriental medical text known as the Shang Han Lun (Discussion of Cold-induced Disorders and Miscellaneous Diseases). This text is primarily concerned with the use of Chinese herbs for what we call the common cold. Legend has it that Zhang Zhong-Jing lost most of his family to an epidemic of febrile disease and devoted his life's work to the treatment of such diseases.
The reason that Oriental Medicine experiences much greater success treating the common cold, flu, and similar conditions has to do with the nature of the medicine itself. Modern medicine concerns itself primarily with killing germs and controlling symptoms, but antibiotics do not work on viruses. Oriental Medicine's primary concern is maintaining a state of balance within the human organism and in relationship to the outside environment. If you are in a state of balance both within yourself and in relationship to the world that you live in, your resistance to illness will be sufficient to keep you from contracting a cold or flu. We are exposed to viruses all the time, and often the people most likely to get sick have been under a lot of stress, are over-fatigued, have allergies, or are generally out of balance.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are effective for prevention and treatment of colds and flu because they adjust this energetic balance, which forms the basis of the strength of your immune system. People that receive regular acupuncture treatments get sick less often. If you have a cold or flu, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you recover more quickly.