This is a new piece of research on the mechanism of the common cold. Even though most people instinctively assume that cold weather increases the risk of “catching a cold”, scientists have long insisted that the reason for the increased prevalence of “catching colds”, has nothing to do with the outside temperature per se, but with our reaction to it – i.e. crowding together indoors to escape the cold weather outside facilitates the spread of bacterial and viral infections, because we are in such close physical proximity to one another and not because it’s cold outside. The most prevalent virus that gives rise to the common cold is called the rhinovirus. It usually takes hold inside the nasal cavity (“rhino” being the ancient Greek word for “nose”), which is a slightly cooler environment than the lungs. This new study found that when the outside temperature drops, which naturally leads to a corresponding drop in the temperature of the nasal cavity, since the nasal cavity is in close proximity with the surrounding air, the rhinovirus reproduces more easily thereby giving rise to the symptoms of the common cold.
The colloquial phrase “catching a cold” suggests that according to the folk wisdom of our ancestors, upper respiratory tract infections were indeed associated with a drop in the outside temperature, and similarly in Chinese Medicine, such infections were known as “an invasion of external cold”. So- is it worth considering the use of acupuncture for colds and flu? Actually not really. The treatment of colds and flu with acupuncture is neither faster, nor more convenient (far less so in fact), nor more effective than whatever remedies one might purchase over the counter at a pharmacy. And moreover, it is far more expensive. The only time that it makes sense to use acupuncture for colds and flu, is when a patient is already receiving treatment for something else, and happens to catch a cold during a course of several treatments, in which case the treatment for the cold or flu can be integrated into the existing treatment, for which there is not- or there ought not to be- any additional charge.
In concluding this brief summary of the new research one might consider that, from a certain point of view, it is a pleasant thing to discover that we, in our modern scientific age, are not after all, always wiser than our ancestors. Or, as T.S. Eliot elegantly puts it, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
The link to the article is here
and the link to the poem by Eliot is here. (I recommend it, it’s beautiful)