Treating That Hacking Cough!

Published on
December 17, 2014

Emily Navas

The news is out once again- warning us of the worst flu season on average for this coming winter. It's officially winter here in California and the weather has been up and down in terms of temperature and the climate has an impact on different organ systems in the body --specifically the lungs.  Have you noticed a dry cough creeping up on you? Perhaps in the morning? In Chinese medicine, the lungs are particularly the most vulnerable organ and accordingly can suffer dryness and deficiency.  An unproductive cough left untreated can progress into a serious illness, like a cold or flu.  In Chinese medicine there are many recipes for nursing colds and flu from their known classic textbook called "The Theory of Febrile Disease.  This classic text describes different stages and manifestations of illness.  Normally by treating the common cold or flu with enough rest and proper dietary care the body will be able to recover within days if not a week without having to use drugs.  Usually, it is only people in poor health that can develop serious symptoms and complications that can result in death and or other extreme cases. The key in Chinese medicine is in dietary care: to know what to eat and what not to eat during this season, and to stick to it! see my blog (Keep Colds Away & Eat With The Season at

Back when I was learning Acupuncture, I learned a simple and preventive recipe from the classics that is not only a fix for a dry cough but is surprisingly easy and tasty!  As I've mentioned before, different foods have different properties that will help to balance the body, and the pear -more preferably the Asian pear, has a moistening effect on the lungs. The following is an easy recipe for a steamed pear that includes a traditional herb called Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb) which can be found at your local Chinese market or herbal shop.

  • 1 teaspoon of Fritillaria beads semi crushed
  • Honey
  • 1 Asian pear sliced and cored.
  1. Put the semi-crushed fritillaria beads, and sliced pears in a saucepan with about 1/2 inch of water at the bottom of the saucepan.
  2. Cut the bottom of the pear and have it sit upright in the pan with the water.
  3. Place the beads of prepared Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria bulbs) inside the pear and around the pear.
  4. Cook on a stove-top at low heat for about 20-25 minutes preferably covered.
  5. Check-in 15 minutes and pierce the pear with a fork, it should be tender, but not mushy.  After done, remove from the pan and carefully strain some of the water. Drizzle with honey to taste and eat while warm.  This remedy is most effective in the morning or late evening.

Note: You may use any kind of pear, but Asian pear is the most effective for treating the lung dryness of a hacking cough.

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Emily Navas LAc, Acupuncture & Functional Medicine

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