When not properly addressed, common colds and flus can escalate. What are the signs of a developing cold, and what are the herbs we can use to prevent and alleviate these symptoms?
In this lesson by Grandmaster JinBodhi, you will learn about key indicators of faltering health, the dietary philosophy of yin-yang balance, herbal remedies, and a special aged tea that can help prevent colds. You will also learn how to achieve radiant health through your everyday diet.

【You will learn】

  • Early signs of a cold and methods of early intervention
  • The role of aged pu-erh tea in preventing colds
  • Several herbs with cooling and detoxifying effects
  • Grandmaster JinBodhi’s application of balanced yin and yang in health maintenance

【Featured aphorism】

  • For long life, eat plain and light in the morning.


Hello, everyone. Today’s topic is very season-specific. It’s a season in which a lot of people get sick.

(The Covid-19 pandemic has returned for the third time, and the number of cases is rising again everywhere. So, I personally feel that it would be helpful for viewers everywhere if Grandmaster could provide guidance on how to prevent colds and safeguard health this winter.)

It’s so nice of you to ask this question on behalf of everyone. I’ll just talk about ways to stay safe during the pandemic, and to prevent respiratory tract infections, colds, coughs and chills. (Nice.) I hope this helps.

First of all, if our bodies are in good condition, we won’t get sick easily. That applies to the pandemic too. (I see.) Yes. My master told me once that for anyone to catch cold, something must have been accumulating in their body. Accumulating what? (What is it?) Heat; precisely speaking, liver heat. It’s also called “overeating heat.”

(Why is that?) The more you eat, the more heaty you get. (I see.) Too much hotpot, too many meals a day, birthday celebrations, farewell parties, after all sorts of gatherings, you’ll start coughing. After 3 days of enduring the heat from overeating, your body can’t take it anymore, leading to the occurrence of many problems. So, one will have symptoms before catching a cold. Consider these symptoms to be conclusive evidence. (Take note.) Yes, you should. (When these symptoms are popping out, it means you’re going to catch a cold soon.) Right; it’s like the cold chases after you. (Yes.)

What are the symptoms, regardless of the order they occur, that tell us someone is catching a cold? Sore throat. And then, neck discomfort. (Really?) You just feel like a draft has slipped past your neck, and you can’t turn it as smoothly as before. It just feels stiffer than usual. (A neck sprain?) Like, waking up with a neck sprain. (Stiffness in the neck.) Yes. Next, stiffness in the other parts of your body. Even your fingers feel stiff, and you’re not moving them as smoothly as before. The same goes for your legs.

Some people get headaches too. Or, pain on either side of their head. That’s migraine. (I see.) When a draft slips by the back of your head, the side of the back of your head will feel pain. If there’s a draft on the front of your head, the front half of the head, inside, on your face, will be in pain. (I see.)

Next, your mouth feels really dry in the morning. There will be phlegm in your throat. There will also be a layer of thick, white coating on your tongue. It means your stomach is heaty. This could happen when you’re extremely fatigued. Also, like I mentioned before, there will be green or somewhat brownish phlegm in your throat. (Sometimes, whitish.) Yes, whitish too. This could happen. And then, dry and scratchy throat. (I see.) Quite a lot, huh? (That’s the throat alone.) The symptoms could appear everywhere. (I see.)

Also, bad breath. (Right.) It’s the breath that reeks of sickness. (Yes.) This is not normal bad breath. Your mouth feels unusual for a couple days. It smells bad when you sniff your breath. It’s not because of onion, or any pungent food you ate. But your breath just stinks; that’s a sign of heatiness. That means something’s wrong with your digestive system. There will be a bitter taste in your mouth. (I’ve had that. It was quite obvious.) It means you’ve accumulated quite a lot of fatigue, and you feel like you need a one-month break.

Next, eye discharge in the corners of your eyes. The discharges are probably the size of sesame seeds. Some have more discharge in their eyes’ outer corners. That’s accumulated fatigue. (Is it a sign of heatiness in their eyes?) Let’s just say that it’s one of the signs that a cold is coming. Some would probably rub their eyes a lot, because their sight is getting blurry. Also, you always feel like the upper part of your face is dirty, and it won’t get clean no matter how much you wipe it. A child experiencing this is going to have a fever in not more than 8 hours. That’s how it is.

Heat rises higher and dampness sinks lower; this is how our body functions according to the 5-elements theory. (I see.) When heat rises, pimples will appear. I’m not talking about the pimples people get during adolescence. These pimples will appear on both sides of your chin, around your mouth, on your forehead, and the temples of your head. Again, another sign of heatiness. When your lips are red-hot, and pimples start appearing, it means your spleen and stomach are heaty. That’s a sign of a cold approaching.

We’re not done yet. (OK.) I’m telling you what I know. (Thank you, Grandmaster.)

Next, loose teeth. This is serious. It means you’re accumulating too much heat from your hotpot, barbecued food and beer. The heat then reaches your bones. Our teeth are a part of the essence of our bones, and losing teeth is quite serious from the perspective of health, physiognomy and fate. When your internal heat reaches your bones, your teeth will loosen. That’s the heat in your spleen and stomach.

Next, and this is obvious: nosebleeds. (This happens often to children, indicating too much heat.) Yes, heat from overeating. Nosebleeds are a result of the rising of the heat from your stomach and spleen.

Next, dry stool and difficult bowel movements. Barbecued and deep-fried foods that contain little moisture will be harder to pass. Not getting sick after being constipated for 3 days doesn’t happen very often. If a person doesn’t have a bowel movement for 3 days, it may indicate other underlying health issues.

We’ve talked about so many symptoms. Did I miss something? (Let’s see. Also, dark-yellow urine for a few days.) Thanks for reminding me. It’s not just the color, it stinks too. (That is another sign of internal heat.) (Before these symptoms showed up, I remember I had aches all over my body. It was the sore kind of aching.) That’s a symptom too. Aches and soreness are signs that you’ve been hit by a cold draft. In short, you’ve caught cold. (I see.)

Some would also experience breathing difficulty and chest tightness. It’s as if their chest is being pressed. As such, they experience the discomfort of labored breathing. They get angry easily too. Their internal heat has nowhere to go. When that happens, you’ll experience all sorts of physical discomforts.

I’ve covered almost everything, I think. (Yes.) If you’re experiencing about 2-3 of the symptoms I mentioned, you can be classified as being in a pre-cold state.

(Is there a way to deal with these symptoms so that they don’t turn into a cold?)

Alright, first of all, these symptoms come from your accumulated fatigue. In other words, exhaustion. You won’t die the next day; it’s not that serious, it’s just that you’ve been tired for days. (Lack of energy.) And then, with your fatigue plus stress, it’s easy for you to fall sick. When you keep eating heaty foods, it makes things worse.

(It’s easier to catch a cold with an improper diet, right? It’s the same for children. Grandmaster, can you tell us how our stomach, intestines and spleen affect our health?)

When you eat too much fatty food, it’s easier to get high cholesterol, blood lipids and blood pressure. These foods need to be digested as soon as possible. The thing is, the heat from these foods sometimes gets to our liver and kidneys. And then, you get sick in various ways. For example, you experience the symptoms I mentioned. It’s what we call “eating diseases.” It means diseases we got from eating the wrong way. (Or, overeating.) It happens a lot to kids. Adults get fatty liver, or other severe diseases. In other words, overeating makes people sick. Right? (Absolutely.)

(Catching a cold during winter is normal. It happened to us a lot when we were kids. But why does it scare us so much, especially this year?) Why? (Because we’re not catching normal colds now.) Some people die from a normal cold. (It’s dangerous.) They just die, gone forever. This is not a joke. It’s bad news for families that go through this. Imagine catching a cold and dying from it. So, take care of yourself, OK? Don’t add more heat to your liver and spleen from an unhealthy diet, OK?

You’re both smart; can you tell me what’s added to most of the junk food? (Sugar, mostly.) Things that make us sick. (Sugar, yes.) Of all additives, sugar is added the most. The most harmful thing is sugar. It gives you the symptoms I mentioned above, causes high blood pressure, and makes you gain weight. All foods that contribute to weight gain typically contain high amounts of sugar. (Yes, a lot.) The more you eat these foods, the more you’ll look like a bun, round and big.

Besides being generally harmful to our body, sugar is also not easily digested and adds more heat to our stomach and spleen. That’s how we get the symptoms mentioned above. (Yes, inappropriate diet.) Right. (Lowers our immunity.) Yes. (Then the cold air alone is enough to make you sick.) Yes.

(And some people like drinking alcohol to unwind. Will the alcohol make them sick if they get angry?) If you get too angry, you’ll end up sick even if you eat normal food such as porridge. If you’re in a bad mood, any food could generate excessive heat in your body.

(So, we should avoid eating too much of heat-inducing foods. How should we eat to lessen the burden on our stomach?) (I admire Kun-ti, now she’s looking for solutions.) (So, how do we eat right?) Yes. We mostly become sick because we eat wrong. (Yes.) Even for the food you think is good, eating excessively or in a wrong way could make you sick. However, eating the right way makes us healthier. A health-maintenance diet is what we promote, especially the Bodhi Meditation way.

Let’s dig deeper. (Alright.) To eat right, you need to know about balancing the yin and yang elements. We talked about foods that are heaty earlier, right? What do you do if you ate too much heaty food? We can adjust by eating something nourishing and moisturizing. (Yes.) That’s the solution, simple. In Northern China, people eat porridge to cool off. They usually have porridge in the morning. You can use rice or millet to make it. If you don’t have a gastric acid issue, then add some sweet potatoes to it. You can even have some pickles or vegetables as a side dish.

There’s a dish I really like. (Cabbage stew with tofu.) That’s right. According to the theory of the 5 elements, white-colored foods are good for our lungs. (Cabbage and tofu are both white.) Cabbage is also slightly green. Green-colored foods are good for the liver and are also cooling. So this dish is good for your lungs, liver, spleen and stomach. It cools the heat in your spleen, liver and stomach.

Can you just drink iced tea to cool off? That won’t work, and it might add more heat to your body. You could have a fever 2 hours after drinking it. If you’re having the symptoms mentioned above, then I suggest to allow your spleen, liver and stomach to be comfortable and at ease. Yin and yang balancing is also about nourishing. The idea of nourishing our health.

(We don’t just cool off when we have inner heat; at the same time, we also need to nourish our body.) Yes. (This idea is good.) It’s not as simple as cooling off once you get heaty. You want to maintain your health while cooling off. (Right.) So, cooling off and maintaining health at the same time. This is the idea we want to promote. (Yes.) It’s not as simple as fighting heat with cold. Balance is the key.

(For generations, the Chinese have been adjusting their way of nourishing health according to the seasons. In other words, it’s seasonal.) Yes, 4 seasons get you 4 types of climate conditions. For example, spring is cold and fall is chilly. Different season, different weather. People seek to cool off in summer; that’s common sense.

What do they do when everything freezes up in winter? Plants don’t grow, and the land offers nothing in winter. In winter, we store and maintain what we have. So people eat food that provides warmth and energy. It’s cold, right? So you want to conserve and store energy. Winter is the time to take in more heat. Do you know Korean bibimbap, the hot stone-pot rice bowl? It’s sizzling hot, right? (Yes.) That’s right. To feel comfortable, people even want to hold the stone pot. It makes you not only full but also warm.

Now, can we have the same food during the summer? Eating this at noon would make you a sweat bucket, so no. In different seasons, we eat different foods to ensure our bodies feel comfortable, embodying the concept of nourishing our health. Adapting our diet to each season contributes to good health.

I advocate the habit of eating porridge in the morning. Unlike soup, porridge is not watery but sticky. There’s rice and other ingredients in it. The consistency can be adjusted to your liking. It’ll be congee-like after being cooked for about half an hour. (Sticky.) Yes, that’s how it is. Everything is mixed together. A bowl of hot porridge warms you up and gives you energy. Eat a plain, light meal in the morning if you want to live long. That’s what I believe.

(Master, please tell us more about eating plain and light.) Plain and light means no oil, meat or seafood. (Zero protein, zero cholesterol?) Nothing. No protein at all; no meat, no dairy. The staple is still rice, in the form of porridge. You may add some boiled vegetables and some soy sauce to taste. It’s simple and plain, but it’s delicious. Isn’t tea also like this?

If you’re really hungry, then add half a bun or pancake. This is what I have for breakfast; it’s good for my stomach, and it gives me energy to stay active for the whole day. (Go plain and light for longevity.) Good, sounds like a slogan. I like that. (Thank you, Grandmaster.) It also clears away the heat in your liver and spleen, which helps relieve stomach discomforts and the aforementioned symptoms.

When I was little, we made one-pot meals quite often. We placed lots of vegetables in the bottom of the pot; on the upper part of the pot that is not covered by water, we put dough made from corn, sorghum, or wheat flour, making pancakes. After half an hour, you’d get your meal, including pancakes, veggies and soup in the pot. It’s tasty and loaded with nutrients. It’s a delicious full vegan dish. (Yes.) You can add tofu too. Delicious. Eat that, and you’ll live long. (I feel hungry now.) Are you mouth watering? People from every region make this soupy dish differently. People in Shaanxi and Shandong Province make this a lot. (I see.) That’s how it is.

(We’re co-existing with the flu and Covid-19 at the moment. How do we raise our immunity and maintain good health?)

There are many things you can do. Personally, I like drinking pu-erh tea. I drink it every day. Many manufacturers offer high-quality pu-erh tea leaves. Many people think 3-year-old pu-erh tea leaves are good stuff. We buy tea leaves that have been kept for more than 10 years. How good are they? Some say they act like medicines, but I think they’re more than that.

Let me share with you what I know about pu-erh tea leaves. How good are pu-erh tea leaves that have been kept for more than 10 years? We’ll let Wuli and others try those today. After drinking, I can feel my back warming up and sweating a little. Starting from my back, my whole body is warming up. It’s unblocking my central meridian. (This is important.)

When you were little, did your grandma massage your Dazhui acupoint (big vertebrae) when you caught a cold? (Yes.) It’s an acupoint at the back of your neck. From there, down your spine, there’s a passageway; if it’s blocked, it means you’re close to catching a cold. Before one gets sick, they’d experience the symptoms I’ve mentioned. When cold air enters their body through their Dazhui and Jianjing acupoints, their chest will be somewhat blocked, causing breathing difficulty. The throat feels unable to speak; the throat is blocked.

That’s when you should brew these 3-year-old tea leaves. I think the ones we’re selling are at least 7 years old, right? (Yes, since 2015.) One pot is not enough, so you’ll need to keep brewing. After drinking 2-3 pots, your central meridian will be cleared, followed by the channels in your whole body.. I have tea leaves kept for more than 30 years. It’s not for ordinary health maintenance, but lifespan extension. But still, it’s good enough if you have some 3-year-old tea leaves. It’ll still unblock your channels. When your channels are unblocked, your cold will be relieved. (Yes.)

(Everything is blocked when you catch a cold. For example, your nose.) Yes. (Your brain too.) Once, I rode in a truck’s cargo hold for 7 hours in Tibet. It was -30°C. I was standing in the back of a truck, where the goods are loaded. (The cargo.) Uncovered. It was a bumpy ride too. I stood there for 7 hours. (Were you frozen?) When I reached my destination, I had to be carried off. (You were frozen.) When people served me tea, I couldn’t even raise my hand to hold my cup. It usually takes 3 hours before one regains some movement. So, after having some pu-erh tea, 2 hours later, I could go to the bathroom by myself.

(It’s better than sitting beside a fireplace. Everything is “thawed,” inside out.) Yes. My whole body was sweating; again, it was -30°C. I was sweating, how could it be? (That’s the awesome part.) Yes, every channel inside me was unblocked. There was not a single channel that was blocked or frozen. A city’s traffic can only be smooth when no roads are blocked. (Yes.) That’s how it is. Something is stuck when only one of your legs is sweating. That’s dangerous. What’s stuck? Probably some acupoints in your spine, due to being chilled by cold air. You’re close to being paralyzed when that happens. (I see.) You may experience tingling sensations in your hands and feet. If your hands and feet can sweat normally, just eat and drink well, nothing to worry about.

So, what should we pair this pu-erh tea with? You can pair it with almost anything. Right now, we’re focusing on health maintenance and staying safe from cold and viruses during the winter. However, it’s better not to pair it with heaty or dry items, because it will make your throat irritated. Through Energy Bagua, we also learn the theory of yin and yang balancing. That’s what Energy Bagua is about. Understand the theory of yin and yang balancing and you’ll know which ingredients you should pair your tea with.

In health preservation, the key principle is the golden mean. It balances yin and yang; neither can exist alone. Who decides the nature of food? Heaven; or, Nature. For example, watermelons are cooling in nature. What about apricots that grow in summer? (Cooling.) Yes, correct. Most summer fruits are cooling in nature. We eat different things in different seasons to stay healthy. We learn the theory of yin and yang balancing so that we know how to combine various types of food to make healthy meals.

Moderation in everything: diet, temperament, personality, and the way we handle our affairs. That’s what I call good behavior and character. Extreme eating is not right. You can’t have hotpot for 3 days and eat only watermelon for the next 3 days. Balance is the key to staying healthy. We should keep our everyday diet yin-yang balanced; we eat something cooling in nature and something heaty in nature. That’s how you do it.

(That’s a very detailed and enlightening explanation. Master, can you also recommend some cooling and detoxifying herbs with anti-inflammatory properties for these pandemic times?)

I have a bunch of herbs here. You can buy them easily. It’s good to know their functions and store some at home. It’s good to store whole herbs, rather than processed ones. You don’t know what’s been added to them in their processed form. These herbs are cooling and detoxifying, and they also contain anti-inflammatory properties. They’re quite common, actually.

First, honeysuckle. You can get this online or from the herb stores. What does it do? It treats inflammation, flu, toxins and heatiness. Next, chrysanthemum for medicinal use. There are quite a few types. First, Hangzhou white chrysanthemum. Next, Gong chrysanthemum. Also, Tai chrysanthemum. These are just examples.

Their medicinal values are more or less the same. Especially for improving eyesight, liver health, lung moisture, and throat hydration. When drinking a tea, if you feel it sweet and refreshing, the tea is usually cooling and throat nourishing. After your symptoms are relieved, reduce usage or stop consuming it.

The next herb should be used with caution. Consult a doctor before using it. It’s a strong anti-inflammatory herb. It’s called isatis root, and you can buy it at the herb stores easily. (Our moms used to boil the roots and made us drink it for flu prevention.) Licorice is also added sometimes. Next, mulberry leaves. It unblocks meridians, clears the liver and lungs, and lowers blood pressure. I’ll just go briefly over what these herbs do.

Next, lilly bulb (Fritillaria cirrhosa). (A cough reliever, good for lungs too.) This is a common ingredient in all Chinese cough syrups. It clears the lungs and relieves cough. Next, licorice. This herb has a neutralizing effect; it relieves cough, nourishes the lungs, and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

These are some herbs that you should stock up on at home. Keep them in bags and label them with their uses and properties. I bet you’ll forget what I told you later. Write it on sticky notes and stick them on the bags. Remember to seal up the bags tightly, so that bugs don’t get inside them. When you need them, just open up the bags and add a little to make your own remedy. That will make you an expert at dealing with your own flu. Always keep some of these herbs with you, OK?

(Thank you, Master, for your detailed explanation. Like Master mentioned, we must be aware of our condition and how to deal with it by applying the theory of yin and yang. If you’re heaty, then add something cooling to your pu-erh tea. Do the opposite if you want to warm yourself up. This is how you become an expert at maintaining your own health.)

Watch your diet, sleeping hours, and your emotions. Like Wuli said, watch what you eat. Don’t binge on snacks, OK? (Just a bit.) Be careful, OK? If you don’t want to get sick because of what you eat, then stick to a healthy diet. Do everything I told you. Do it well and you shall be fine in dealing with flu and the pandemic.

I mostly shared just the basics today; I spoke quite a lot. (We love your lessons, Master. People want more from you.) I’ll talk more about it tomorrow. (OK.) Let’s talk recipes tomorrow. (OK.) Alright. I wish you health and longevity. (Received.) And, joy and happiness. (Received.) And, a good mood! (Received.) See you again, same time tomorrow. (Thank you, Grandmaster.)

(This program does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult with professionals before attempting any diet or exercise method, or participating in activities such as Bodhi Meditation or Energy Bagua.)