A cough is a common symptom when you have a cold or the flu. But it's not uncommon to see people continue to cough even after other symptoms have gone. Pressing acupuncture points on the medial sides of our arms and thumbs may help relieve coughing in cases where no medication is available.
Recently, I had a patient who caught a cold about a month ago and, with a combination of Chinese and Western medication, made an almost complete recovery.
But he was still woken up by his cough at about 3 to 4am (the time zone when the body's energy runs through the lung meridian). Both he and his wife suffered from poor sleep as a result.
I showed his wife how to massage the acupuncture points along the lung meridian - the energy path which runs from the upper rib space of our chest to the medial side of our arm and thumb.
A week later, she came to tell me that whenever he coughed, she pressed the meridian and he fell asleep shortly afterwards. Following two more doses of herbal medicine, his cough had gone completely.
According to Chinese medicine, imbalances of any internal organs may cause a cough. For instance, a cough with phlegm may be caused by a digestive system deficiency.
In Chinese medicine, the spleen meridian is responsible for the delivery of nutrients, and a deficiency here will cause an accumulation of unabsorbed nutrients, which then gets turned into phlegm. Therefore, by strengthening the spleen meridian, nutrients can be absorbed and delivered without delay, allowing us to get rid of phlegm.
Of course, a cough can be triggered by loads of factors - asthma, allergic rhinitis, esophageal reflux of stomach content, or infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Coughs can also be caused by something even scarier - such as a tumor, congestive heart failure, or lung diseases such as chronic obstructive disease or emphysema.
If you have been coughing for over three weeks, consult your doctor for a thorough body examination and a chest X-ray.
Wong Pui-man is a Hong Kong- registered Chinese medicine practitioner. www.facebook.com/CandyWongAcupuncture