12 natural cough remedies tips 

Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infections from the body, but persistent coughing can be annoying. The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause. There are many possible causes of coughs, including allergies, infections, and acid reflux.

Some natural remedies may help to relieve a cough. However, it is important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor herbs and supplements, so people who use them may be at risk of using low-quality products and impurities.

You should also be aware that some herbs and supplements can interfere with medications, which may result in unwanted side effects.

If a cough is severe or persists for more than a few weeks, it is essential to seek medical advice.

1. Honey tea

A popular home remedy for coughs is mixing honey with warm water.

According to some research, honey may relieve coughs.

A study on treatments for nighttime coughing in children compared dark honey with the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan and with no treatment.

The researchers reported that honey provided the most significant relief from coughing, followed by dextromethorphan.

Although the benefits of honey over dextromethorphan were small, parents rated honey most favorably of all three interventions.

To use honey to treat a cough, mix 2 teaspoons (tsp) with warm water or an herbal tea. Drink this mixture once or twice a day. Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.

2. Ginger

Ginger may ease a dry or asthmatic cough, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also relieve nausea and pain. One study suggests that some anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can relax membranes in the airways, which could reduce coughing. The researchers mainly studied the effects of ginger on human cells and animals, so more research is necessary.Brew up a soothing ginger tea by adding 20–40 grams (g) of fresh ginger slices to a cup of hot water. Allow to steep for a few minutes before drinking. Add honey or lemon juice to improve the taste and further soothe a cough.

Be aware that, in some cases, ginger tea can cause stomach upset or heartburn.

3. Fluids

Staying hydrated is vital for those with a cough or cold. Research indicates that drinking liquids at room temperature can alleviate a cough, runny nose, and sneezing.

However, people with additional symptoms of a cold or flu may benefit from warming up their beverages. The same study reports that hot beverages alleviate even more symptoms, including a sore throat, chills, and fatigue.

The symptom relief was immediate and remained for a continued period after finishing the hot beverage.

Hot beverages that may be comforting include:

  • clear broths
  • herbal teas
  • decaffeinated black tea
  • warm water
  • warm fruit juices

4. Steam

A wet cough, which is one that produces mucus or phlegm, may improve with steam. Take a hot shower or bath and allow the bathroom to fill with steam. Stay in this steam for a few minutes until symptoms subside. Drink a glass of water afterward to cool down and prevent dehydration.

Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.

5. Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root is an herb that has a long history of use as a treatment for coughs and sore throats. The herb can ease irritation resulting from coughing because of its high mucilage content. Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance that coats the throat.

One small study revealed that an herbal cough syrup containing marshmallow root, along with thyme and ivy, effectively relieved coughs resulting from common colds and respiratory tract infections. After 12 days of taking the syrup, 90 percent of the participants rated its effectiveness as good or very good.

Marshmallow root is also available as a dried herb or a bagged tea. Add hot water to either and then drink it immediately or allow it to cool first. The longer the marshmallow root steeps in the water, the more mucilage will be in the drink.

Side effects can include stomach upset, but it may be possible to counter this by drinking extra fluids.

6. Salt-water gargle

This simple remedy is one of the most effective for treating a sore throat and wet cough. Salt water reduces phlegm and mucus in the back of the throat which can lessen the need to cough.

Stir half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Allow the solution to cool slightly before using it to gargle. Let the mixture sit at the back of the throat for a few moments before spitting it out. Gargle with salt water several times each day until the cough improves.

Avoid giving salt water to younger children as they may not be able to gargle properly, and swallowing salt water can be dangerous.

7. Bromelain

Pineapples contain bromelain, which may help to treat a cough.

Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples. It is most plentiful in the core of the fruit.

Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties and may also have mucolytic properties, which means that it can break down mucus and remove it from the body.

Some people drink pineapple juice daily to reduce mucus in the throat and suppress coughing. However, there may not be enough bromelain in the juice to relieve symptoms.

Bromelain supplements are available and may be more effective at relieving a cough. However, it is best to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplements.

It is possible to be allergic to bromelain, and this herb can also cause side effects and interact with medications. People who take blood thinners or specific antibiotics should not take bromelain.

8. Thyme

Thyme has both culinary and medicinal uses and is a common remedy for a cough, a sore throat, bronchitis, and digestive issues.

One study found that a cough syrup consisting of thyme and ivy leaves relieved coughing more effectively and more rapidly than a placebo syrup in people with acute bronchitis. Antioxidants in the plant may be responsible for its benefits.

To treat coughs using thyme, look for a cough syrup that contains this herb. Alternatively, make thyme tea by adding 2 tsp of dried thyme to a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes before straining and drinking.

9. Dietary changes for acid reflux

Acid reflux is a common cause of a cough. Avoiding foods that can trigger acid reflux is one of the best ways to manage this condition and reduce the cough that accompanies it.

Every individual may have different reflux triggers that they need to avoid. People who are unsure of what causes their reflux can begin by eliminating the most common triggers from their diet and monitoring their symptoms.

The foods and beverages that most commonly trigger acid reflux include:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • citrus foods
  • fried and fatty foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint
  • spices and spicy foods
  • tomatoes and tomato-based products

10. Slippery elm

Native Americans traditionally used slippery elm bark to treat coughing and digestive issues. Slippery elm is similar to marshmallow root as it contains a high level of mucilage, which helps to soothe a sore throat and cough.

Make slippery elm tea by adding 1 tsp of the dried herb to a cup of hot water. Steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking. It is important to note that slippery elm can interfere with the absorption of medications.

11. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a supplement that comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. Taking a daily dose may lessen the frequency and severity of a wet cough by reducing mucus in the airways.

A meta-analysis of 13 studies suggests that NAC can significantly and consistently reduce symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a prolonged inflammation of the airways that causes mucus build-up, a cough, and other symptoms.

The researchers suggest a daily dose of 600 milligrams (mg) of NAC for people without airway obstruction, and up to 1,200 mg where there is an obstruction.

NAC can have severe side effects, including hives, swelling, fever, and difficulty breathing. Anyone considering this approach should speak to a doctor first.

12. Probiotics

Miso soup is rich in probiotics.

Probiotics do not directly relieve a cough, but they may boost the immune system by balancing the bacteria in the gut.

A superior immune system can help to fight off infections or allergens that may be causing the cough.

One type of probiotic, a bacteria called Lactobacillus, provides a modest benefit in preventing the common cold, according to research.

Supplements containing Lactobacillus and other probiotics are available at health stores and drug stores.

Some foods are also naturally rich in probiotics, including:

  • miso soup
  • natural yogurt
  • kimchi
  • sauerkraut

However, the number and diversity of probiotic units in foods can vary greatly. It may be best to take probiotic supplements in addition to eating probiotic-rich foods.

Tips to help prevent a cold

It is not always possible to avoid getting a cough, but the following tips can reduce the risk:

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick: Maintain a safe distance from people who have a head cold, flu, or a cough.
  • Washing hands regularly: Use soap and warm water to remove bacteria and viruses from the skin. Teach children how to wash their hands properly. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer outside the home when necessary.
  • Using disinfectant: When a family member is ill, clean the kitchen and bathroom regularly with a disinfectant. Wash bedding, towels, and soft toys on a hot wash.
  • Staying hydrated: Drink enough water, herbal teas, and other beverages to avoid dehydration.
  • Reducing stress: Stress affects the immune system and increases the risk of getting sick. To alleviate stress, a person can exercise regularly, meditate, do deep breathing, and try progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Getting enough sleep: Aim to sleep for 7–9 hours each night to stay fit and healthy.
  • Taking immune-boosting supplements: Consider taking zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics during cold and flu season to keep illness at bay.

Allergy symptoms can sometimes mimic those of a cold. Reduce allergy flare-ups by avoiding triggers such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. See a doctor about getting allergy shots or medications.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if the following symptoms accompany a cough:

  • foul-smelling green or yellow phlegm
  • chills
  • dehydration
  • fever over 102°F
  • fever that lasts for more than 3 days
  • weakness

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if a cough:

  • brings up blood
  • causes breathing difficulties

Symptoms of heart disease in men

Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that men face. By knowing some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, they may be able to reduce their risk of developing serious complications, such as a heart attack.

Heart disease is a term referring to a range of heart health issues. These include:

  • coronary artery disease
  • arrhythmias
  • heart failure
  • angina
  • other heart-related irregularities, infections, and birth abnormalities

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease affects more than 1 in 3 men in the United States.

In some cases, a person may have evident signs of heart disease that are easily recognizable. It is possible, however, to develop heart disease without experiencing any noticeable symptoms.

Are symptoms different in men and women?

Men and women share many of the same symptoms for heart disease and heart attacks.

However, men are more likely to experience the well-known heart attack symptoms such as:

  • crushing chest pain
  • squeezing, discomfort, or fullness in the chest
  • pain in the arm, jaw, or back
  • shortness of breath
  • cold sweat
  • nausea

Women are less likely to experience crushing chest pain. They have a higher chance of having the following symptoms instead:

  • pain in the jaw, neck, or chest
  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • squeezing on the upper back
  • fullness, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest

As a result, women are more likely to ignore their cardiac symptoms as it is less obvious that they relate specifically to the heart.

Signs of heart disease in men

In some cases, a heart attack or another severe heart-related event may be one of the earliest signs of heart disease that a man notices.

However, there are often some earlier symptoms and signs that they can look for, which may help to prevent a heart attack, stroke, or other complications of heart disease.

These include the following:

Symptoms of heart arrhythmias

Heart arrhythmias occur when the heart beats irregularly, or too quickly or slowly. Some symptoms to look for include:

  • fainting or dizziness
  • a sensation of the heart racing, or beating too slowly or irregularly
  • discomfort or pressure in the chest that can last for up to 30 minutes
  • difficulty catching the breath after moderate exercise such as walking up stairs
  • unexplained pain in the jaw, neck, or torso

Symptoms of blood vessel problems

Blood vessels can constrict or narrow over time. When this occurs, it is more difficult for blood to pass through the veins and arteries and this puts greater strain on the heart when it pumps.

Some early symptoms of narrowing blood vessels include:

  • shortness of breath
  • extreme fatigue
  • an irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain or angina
  • a feeling of pain, numbness, swelling, tingling, coldness, or weakness in the outer extremities

Diagnosis

Diagnosing heart disease often begins with a physical examination.

At “Vistasol Medical Group” during the examination, our doctor will discuss any symptoms that a person is experiencing and any risk factors they may have for developing heart disease.

After assessing a patient’s physical health, symptoms, and risk factors, a doctor may run several diagnostic tests to determine if a person has any form of heart disease.

Many doctors will order a stress test that looks at how the person and heart respond to moderate exercise. A doctor will monitor a person as they walk or run on a treadmill to gauge whether or not they are likely to have narrowing of the blood vessels.

A doctor may also use an MRI scan to check for blockages that could be causing a restriction in blood flow.

If they confirm a blockage, the doctor will need to determine its exact location. The method for this is invasive but should not be painful.

A cardiologist will use a long, thin tube to insert a dye into the blood vessels of the heart, in a procedure called cardiac catheterization. A radiologist will then take a series of X-ray images of the heart and arteries, called an angiogram.

9 Home remedies for Shingles

When adults have extremely itchy or painful lesions across their torso or face, the diagnosis may be shingles. It is essential that people with this condition visit a doctor for treatment, but some home remedies can help to relieve symptoms.

In the United States, there are up to one million estimated cases of shingles every year. Shingles refers to the reactivation of the dormant herpes varicella zoster virus after childhood. Aging, trauma, stress, or another illness can all activate the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend seeking medical advice as soon as any symptoms appear.

Natural remedies

Some of these remedies may relieve pain and itchiness and improve healing:

1. Essential oils

People have used essential oils as herbal remedies for many years, often for skin conditions.

Some essential oils have properties that may help with skin irritation and healing These oils include:

Chamomile oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can improve ulcers and pressure sores by aiding skin-cell regeneration.

Eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase the speed at which cancer patients sores heal.

Tea tree oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing.

2. Cold compresses

Holding cool cloths or compresses against the rash site may assist in relieving itchiness and reducing inflammation.

People can lightly soak a natural cotton cloth or towel with cool water and wring it out before placing it on sore, itchy areas. They can then repeat this as necessary.

It is also best not to expose the skin to extreme temperatures, so people should avoid using ice baths or very hot water. Hot water will increase blood flow and potentially slow down the healing of sores, whereas ice will increase skin sensitivity.

3. Witch hazel

Researchers believe that witch hazel is more effective than chamomile for reducing inflammation and itchiness in some individuals.

It is possible to purchase witch hazel in a variety of forms, the most common of which are creams or witch hazel water. Many witch hazel creams are available online (visit Vivoderm.com).

People can apply witch hazel topically to areas of irritation and inflammation to achieve relief.

4. Cool baths

Taking cool baths or showers every day, with minimal scrubbing, will help to keep sores and blisters clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Cool water should also relieve sore and itchy spots, helping to prevent scratching, which could cause scarring.

5. Oat baths

Some studies suggest that oat extract may moisten dry skin and soothe sensitive and inflamed skin.

The FDA have approved colloidal oatmeal as a safe and effective treatment. Colloidal oat products usually exclude oat protein to prevent allergic reactions.

The active ingredients that help reduce inflammation include flavonoids and saponins. People can use oat products in a cool bath to help relieve pain and itchiness.

6. Gentiana scabra

Researchers have found that Gentiana scabra, a blue or purple flower occurring throughout North America, has a positive effect on pain relief in shingles and decreases the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia.

By reducing inflammation in the skin, Gentiana scabra minimizes pain and promotes healing. A reputable Chinese medicine practitioner can prepare the herbal formula by boiling the plant in water. People can then take the remedy orally

7. Diet

A healthful diet is vital for preventing and fighting illness.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a varied diet comprising many vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains as well as legumes, nuts, and lean meats.

People should aim to include orange, red, and green foods that contain the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and provitamin A in their diet. Carotenoids are very important for immune function, and occur in the following foods:

  • orange foods: carrot, pumpkin, and apricot
  • red foods: watermelon, red pepper, grapefruit, and cherry
  • green foods: kale, parsley, spinach, melon, lettuce, and endive

Limiting trans and saturated fats, and avoiding added sugar and salt where possible can also reduce inflammation and improve immune function.

8. Vitamin supplements

Healthy individuals should not need to take supplements. However, individuals who are immune-compromised and over the age of 50 should consider supplementation to maintain good health and strong immunity.

There is a link between vitamin D and immune function. Many older people are at risk of low vitamin D levels, so they must ensure that they get sufficient sun exposure or take supplements to protect their immunity.

Taking vitamin C, zinc, and selenium supplements can also improve immunity in older adults.

However, taking high doses of vitamins and minerals can do more harm than good. Multivitamins, which contain lower and safer levels of many vitamins and minerals, are usually a better option.

9. Quit smoking

Smoking offers no health benefits and is always harmful. It is vital to quit smoking as it increases the risk of many cancers and diseases.

Smoking lowers immunity against infection, especially in older people, and can delay recovery and healing.

Edwin Smith surgical papyrus

7 things you didn’t know about your brain

The brain — the central “control unit” of our bodies, repository of memories and emotions. Throughout history, philosophers have believed that the brain may even house that intangible essence that makes us human: the soul. What should we know about our brains?

The main organ of the human nervous system, the brain manages most of our bodies activities and processes information received from both outside and inside the body and is the very seat of our emotions and cognitive abilities, including thought, long- and short-term memory, and decision-making.

The first mention of this organ was recorded in an Ancient Egyptian medical treatise known as the “Edwin Smith surgical papyrus,” after the man who discovered this document in the 1800s.

Since then, our understanding of the brain has expanded immeasurably, although still we contend with many mysteries surrounding this key organ.

In this Spotlight, we look at some of the most important facts we have uncovered about the brain — and some aspects that remain to be understood.

1. How big are our brains?

Brain size varies widely, depending largely on age, sex, and overall body mass. However, studies have suggested that the adult male brain weighs, on average, about 1,336 grams, whereas the adult female brain weighs around 1,198 grams.

In terms of dimensions, the human brain isn’t the largest. Of all mammals, the sperm whale — an underwater denizen weighing an impressive 35–45 tons — is known to have the biggest brain. But, of all the animals on Earth, human brains have the largest number of neurons, which are specialized cells that store and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals.Traditionally, it has been said that the human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, but recent investigations have questioned the veracity of that number. Instead, Brazilian neuroscientist has discovered that the number is closer to 86 billion neurons.

2. What makes a brain?

The human brain makes up, alongside the spinal chord, the central nervous system. The brain itself has three main parts:

The brain is globular in shape and made of soft tissue.

  • the brainstem, which, like a plant’s shoot, is elongated, and which connects the rest of the brain with the spinal chord
  • the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and which is deeply involved in regulating movement, motor learning, and maintaining equilibrium
  • the cerebrum, which is the largest part of our brains and fills up most of the skull; it houses the cerebral cortex (that has a left and a right hemisphere separated by a long groove) and other, smaller structures, all of which are variously responsible for conscious thought, decision-making, memory and learning processes, communication, and perception of external and internal stimuli

Brains are made of soft tissue, which includes gray and white matter, containing the nerve cells, non-neuronal cells (which help to maintain neurons and brain health), and small blood vessels.

They have a high water content as well as a large amount (nearly 60 percent) of fat.

The brain of the modern-day human — Homo sapiens sapiens — is globular, unlike the brains of other early hominids, which were slightly elongated at the back. This shape, research suggests, may have developed in Homo sapiens about 40,000–50,000 years ago. 

3. How ‘hungry’ are our brains?

Despite the fact that the human brain is not a very large organ, its functioning requires a whole lot of energy.

“Although the [human] brain weighs only 2 percent of the body [mass], it alone uses 25 percent of all the energy that your body requires to run per day,” Herculano-Houzel explained in a presentation.

And why does the brain need so much “fuel?” Based on studies of rat models, some scientists have hypothesized that, while most of this energy is expended on maintaining ongoing thought and bodily processes, some of it is probably invested in the upkeep of brain cells’ health.

But, according to some researchers, at first sight, the brain, seemingly inexplicably, uses up a lot of energy during what is known as the “resting state,” when it is not involved in any specific, targeted activities.

According to James Kozloski, “Inactivity correlated networks appear even under anesthesia, and these areas have very high metabolic rates, tipping the brain’s energy budget toward a large investment in the organism’s doing nothing,” he writes.

But Kozloski’s hypothesis is that no large amount of energy is spent for no reason — so why does the brain seem to do it? In fact, he says, it doesn’t.

Energy spent “doing nothing,” he says, is actually put toward assembling a “map” of accumulating information and experiences that we can fall back on when making decisions in our day-to-day lives.

4. How much of our brains do we use?

One long-circulating myth has it that humans typically use only 10 percent of their brain capacity, suggesting that, if only we knew how to “hack into” the other 90 percent, we might be able to unlock amazing abilities.

The idea that we only use 10 percent of our brains is a myth. Actually, we use most of our brains pretty much all of the time.

While it remains unclear exactly where this myth originated and how it spread so speedily, the idea that we could somehow tap into as yet unclaimed brain power is certainly a very attractive one.

Still, nothing could be farther from the truth than this piece of urban lore. Just consider what we discussed above: even in a resting state, the brain is still active and requires energy.

Brain scans have shown that we use pretty much all of our brains all of the time, even when we’re asleep — though patterns of activity, and the intensity of that activity, might differ depending on what we’re doing and what state of wakefulness or sleep we’re in.

“Even when you’re engaged in a task and some neurons are engaged in that task, the rest of your brain is occupied doing other things, which is why, for example, the solution to a problem can emerge after you haven’t been thinking about it for a while, or after a night’s sleep, and that’s because your brain’s constantly active,” said neurologist Krish Sathian, who works at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

“If it were true that we only use 10 percent of the brain, then we could presumably sustain damage to 90 percent of our brain, with a stroke […] or something like that, and not [experience] any effects, and that’s clearly not true.”

Krish Sathian

5. Right- or left-brained?

Are you right-brained or left-brained? Any number of Internet quizzes will claim to be able to assess whether you predominantly use the right or left hemisphere of your brain.

And this has implications about your personality: allegedly, left-brained people are supposed to be more mathematically inclined and analytical, while right-brained people are more creative.

But how true is this? Once more the answer, I’m afraid, leans toward “not at all.” While it is true that each of our hemispheres has slightly different roles, individuals do not actually have a “dominant” brain side that governs their personality and abilities.

Instead, research has revealed that people use both of the brain hemispheres pretty much in equal measure.

However, what is true is that the left hemisphere of the brain is more concerned with the use of language, while the right hemisphere is applied more to the intricacies of nonverbal communication.

6. How do brains change with age?

As we age, parts of our brain begin to shrink naturally and we begin to gradually lose neurons. The frontal lobe and the hippocampus — two key brain regions in regulating cognitive processes, including memory formation and recall — start shrinking when we hit 60 or 70.

As we age, we begin to lose neurons. But new research suggests that adult brains can also generate new cells.

This means that we could naturally begin to find learning new things, or performing several tasks at the same time, more challenging than before.

There is some good news, as well, however. Till not too long ago, scientists used to believe that once we started to lose neurons, that would be it — we would be unable to create new brain cells and had to resign ourselves to that.

However, it turns out that this isn’t true. Researcher Sandrine Thuret, from King’s College London in the United Kingdom, has explained that the hippocampus is a crucial part in the adult brain in terms of generating new cells.

(And this makes sense if you consider that it plays an important role in processes of learning and memory.)

The process in which new nerve cells are created in the adult brain is called neurogenesis, and, according to Thuret, estimates suggest that an average adult human will produce “700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus.”

This, she suggests, means that when we reach middle age, we will have replaced all the neurons that we had in this brain region in the beginning of our lives with ones that we produced during adulthood.

7. Is perception ‘a controlled hallucination?’

A great mystery of the human brain is linked with consciousness and our perception of reality. The workings of consciousness have fascinated scientists and philosophers alike, and though we are slowly inching closer to an understanding of this phenomenon, much more still remains to be learned.

Anil Seth, a professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience from the University of Sussex in the U.K., who specializes in the study of consciousness, has suggested that this intriguing process is based on a sort of “controlled hallucination,” which our brains generate to make sense of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=lyu7v7nWzfo

QI deficiency explained in traditional Chinese medicine

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), qi is the vital energy that circulates through the body at all times. Practitioners believe that a qi deficiency is linked to the spleen and that rest and eating certain foods can treat the imbalance.

The concepts of TCM are not based in modern science but have their roots in ancient Chinese practices. TCM includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, and exercises such as tai chi or qigong.

While there is no scientific proof for qi or a deficiency of qi, many people understand these terms as ways to describe issues in the body as a whole — rather than taking the rigorous route that medical science does.

In this article, we will explore what a qi deficiency is, its symptoms and causes, and how it might be treated with rest and diet.

What is a qi deficiency?

According to TCM, qi is life force or vital energy. Everything in the world is made up of qi, including the physical body and the feelings a person has.

Followers and practitioners of TCM believe that to be balanced in life and free from physical or mental health issues, a person must have balanced qi. They suggest that illnesses or other conditions only appear when there is a qi imbalance or deficiency in the body.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) define qi as a vital energy that flows through the body, helping to maintain a person’s health. The NCCIH are interested in the ideas of TCM but do not focus on specific concepts, such as qi. Instead, the NCCIH take a more scientific view, looking at how these practices affect the body and their use in symptom management.

What are the symptoms?

Roughly translated, qi means energy, so, simply put, a qi deficiency means low energy. This low energy can affect the body as whole or just specific organs that cause different symptoms.

A general qi deficiency may cause some overall symptoms of fatigue and illness.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences uses the following five signs and symptoms to diagnose a qi deficiency:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath or no desire to talk
  • spontaneous sweating
  • a swollen tongue with teeth marks on the side
  • a weak pulse

Causes of qi deficiency

The study also outlines a range of possible factors that can lead to a qi deficiency.

The authors suggest that there could be a link between qi deficiency and aging.

Some practitioners believe that there is a relationship between qi deficiency and chronic medical diseases and their complications, such as heart disease, hypertension, or stroke.

Qi deficiency may also result from using too much qi in daily life. Many people in the western world are constantly working or on-the-go, leading busy lives, leaving no time to relax.

According to TCM, leading such a stressful life with little downtime may quickly drain the body of vital energy, making a person more susceptible to qi deficiency and the illnesses that follow. Think of qi deficiency as being burned out, a condition that can cause the symptoms and conditions associated with stress.

Treatments for qi deficiency

TCM places great importance on treating the body as a whole rather than merely managing symptoms. Where western medicine might treat tiredness with stimulants, such as coffee, TCM concerns itself with addressing the issues causing the fatigue in the first place.

There is little quality scientific research to support topics such as qi and qi deficiency, and most of the evidence for treating qi deficiency is anecdotal.

That said, many people may find relief from symptoms by making some changes in their diet and lifestyle to support their qi balance or using alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

Focus on rest

People with qi deficiency may work too hard, are always on the go, and never have downtime. To help balance the qi in the body, many TCM practitioners recommend a heavy focus on rest.

This can include:

  • taking breaks throughout the day.
  • making time to take a nap.
  • doing relaxing activities, such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong.

Improve sleep patterns

People with a qi deficiency may have a tendency towards stress and may benefit from improving their sleep patterns. A study published in Experimental Neurobiology reports that excessive stress is bad for both the body and the brain. Stress may activate the brain at night, making sound sleep difficult.

Reducing stress levels may help a person sleep better and have more energy or qi throughout the day. Try to find a set time to go to sleep and wake up each day, and aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Best foods for a qi deficiency

TCM suggests that a qi deficiency might be influenced by the spleen, which carries qi to other parts of the body. This is why a qi deficiency might occur in any area of the body.

To balance qi, TCM practitioners recommend eating foods that are good for the spleen.

Foods to eat

A healthful diet for a balanced qi includes:

  • fermented foods for digestive health, including sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir
  • healthful, energizing fats, such as olive oil, salmon, coconut oil, and avocados
  • a wide variety of lightly cooked fruits, vegetables, and nuts
  • adaptogenic herbs, such as ginseng, should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner or trusted TCM practitioner

Foods that are good for spleen qi include yang tonic foods and qi-circulating foods. According to TCM, these foods might warm the spleen and increase energy flow to the body.

Foods to eat for spleen qi include:

  • lentils
  • quinoa
  • oats
  • malted grain beverages
  • root vegetables including sweet potato and taro
  • pumpkin and other squash
  • miso soup
  • orange peels
  • mustard leaf

Foods to avoid for spleen qi include:

  • refined sugar
  • refined grains
  • fried or salty foods
  • iced or refrigerated foods or drinks
  • dairy products
  • citrus fruits
  • pork
  • yeasty foods, such as beer or dough
  • banana

Spleen qi deficiency

In western medicine, the spleen is considered a non-vital organ. It is a small organ that helps filter blood and is part of the immune system, but people can live without it.

In TCM, the spleen is central to digestion and is considered a vital organ. The spleen is said to pull qi from all the foods we eat and deliver it to the rest of the body. When a TCM practitioner suspects a qi deficiency, they often look to treat the spleen first.

TCM pairs the stomach and spleen as the sources of digestion and the digestive system as a whole. Any imbalances in the spleen qi would create what western medicine calls gastrointestinal issues.

Spleen qi deficiency may cause symptoms such as:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • gas or bloating
  • varicose veins
  • hemorrhoids
  • acid reflux
  • trouble waking up in the morning
  • brain fog throughout the day
  • diabetes
  • eating disorders

Other types of qi deficiency

TCM works on the basis that qi is everywhere in the body, so a qi deficiency in one body system or organ might cause different symptoms to a qi deficiency in another. For example:

Symptoms of a heart qi deficiency may include:

  • sweating without exerting oneself
  • palpitations when moving
  • anxiety
  • nightmares or restless sleep
  • mood swings

Symptoms of a lung qi deficiency include:

  • a cough, which may be mild but continuous
  • shortness of breath
  • low speaking voice
  • a tendency to catch colds

Symptoms of a kidney qi deficiency include:

  • cold limbs
  • asthma
  • hair loss
  • urinary problems
  • very clear urine

10 home remedies for wheezing

Wheezing is a common symptom of various respiratory disorders that cause tightening in the throat. There are several ways a person can stop their wheezing at home without using an inhaler, but these will depend on the cause.

Wheezing happens when the airways are tightened, blocked, or inflamed, making a person’s breathing sound like whistling or squeaking. Common causes include a cold, asthma, allergies, or more serious conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Steam inhalation is an effective home remedy for wheezing.

The following home treatments for wheezing aim to open up the airways, reduce the irritants or pollution that a person breathes in, or treat the underlying causes of the wheezing.

If a person has asthma or another medical condition that causes wheezing, they should speak to our doctors in clinic and use the medications prescribed for it, such as an asthma inhaler.

Effective home remedies for wheezing include:

1. Steam inhalation

Inhaling warm, moisture-rich air can be very effective for clearing the sinuses and opening up the airways.Peppermint essential oil may have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests that it may relax the muscles of the respiratory system, which could help to relieve wheezing and other respiratory problems.

If a steam bath does not appeal to you, a sauna room or hot shower can also help loosen congestion. Gently tapping on the back or chest and breathing deeply can help the steam work even better.

2. Hot drinks

Warm and hot drinks can help to loosen up the airways and relieve congestion.

Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, so adding a teaspoon of honey to a hot drink may further improve a person’s symptoms.

A 2017 study found that eating one tablespoon of honey twice a day, along with other treatments, helped to relieve throat congestion.

Some people find that peppermint or other menthol teas work well. A person can try experimenting with different teas to find one that helps.

3. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises may help with COPD, bronchitis, allergies, and other common causes of wheezing.

A 2009 study found that certain yoga-inspired breathing techniques could help with breathing difficulties related to bronchial asthma, including wheezing.

Breathing exercises often include deep, regular inhalations and exhalations. A doctor or respiratory therapist can help with deciding the most effective breathing techniques.

A person may find that they have trouble breathing during a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises can also assist here. It may help to try slow breathing, focusing on breathing deeply into the stomach, and counting breathes.

4. Humidifiers

A humidifier may help to reduce wheezing.

During the dry winter months, wheezing often gets worse. A humidifier in the bedroom can help loosen congestion and reduce the severity of wheezing.

A person can add peppermint or other oils to the water in the humidifier, though they should check the humidifier’s instructions before adding anything other than water.

5. Air filters

Many conditions that cause wheezing can get worse when the air is polluted or in response to allergens. A home air filter can reduce the presence of irritants that may trigger wheezing and breathing trouble.

6. Identifying and removing triggers

Chronic illnesses such as asthma and allergies may get worse in response to certain triggers, such as stress or allergens. Controlling these triggers, as much as possible, can help.

For instance, a person with a chronic respiratory condition who also has allergies might take allergy medication and avoid allergy triggers.

7. Allergy medications

People with allergies can benefit from a wide variety of allergy medications, including decongestants, corticosteroid tablets, and antihistamines.

Nasal sprays may be especially helpful to relieve a tight chest, congestion, and inflammation that can cause wheezing.

More severe allergies may require prescription allergy medication.

8. Allergy immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a process of retraining the immune system not to react to allergens.

The most common form of immunotherapy is allergy shots. A person may need several treatments, but over time, immunotherapy can reduce the frequency of wheezing.

Immunotherapy may also be helpful for people with other chronic conditions, such as COPD, who also have allergies.

9. Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are medications that help relax the lungs and prevent the airways from narrowing. They can help with wheezing caused by COPD and asthma.

Bronchodilators come in two forms:

  • Short-acting bronchodilators. Sometimes known as rescue inhalers, these can stop an asthma or COPD attack.
  • Long-acting bronchodilators. This variety helps relax the airways over the long-term, reducing the frequency and severity of wheezing episodes.

Bronchodilators should be obtained from a doctor and can then be used at home, as needed.

10. Other medications

A wide variety of medications can treat wheezing that is due to underlying illness. A person who experiences wheezing due to a severe allergic reaction, for instance, may require epinephrine or corticosteroids.

People with heart health issues may take blood pressure medication or blood thinners to prevent further damage to the heart.

It is vital to discuss with a doctor whether medication might help, and how various medications may interact with one another.

Outlook

The long-term outlook for wheezing ultimately depends on its cause. Even when wheezing is due to a chronic illness, it can often be well-managed with medication and home treatments.

Ongoing medical care remains important, however, and people whose symptoms do not improve should consult a doctor. Consider tracking symptoms to identify any underlying triggers for symptoms.

If wheezing is causing concern, it is essential to remain calm, as panicking can worsen wheezing. Keep the breathing slow and regular and seek medical treatment when appropriate.

Even when wheezing is due to a serious medical condition, medications can improve symptoms.