Influenza, SARS and Corona Virus

Influenza,SARS and Corona Virus are quite different from the common cold. And they're much more debilitating. However, they often starts off in much the same way, as your symptoms demonstrate how your body is mounting its defence.

Because these are viruses, modern antibiotics don't work.

However, antibiotics have often been used in the past to prevent or ameliorate some of the unpleasant diseases your body may meet after being weakened by influenza and such-like.

Influenza, SARS and coronavirus are very contagious.

Man Behind Glass © Vvo - Depression Photo

Common Symptoms of Influenza, SARS and Coronavirus

  • fever
  • muscle pain and heaviness
  • headache
  • fatigue: extreme - you may be unable to stand
  • loss of appetite - nausea perhaps
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • running nose
  • pain when moving the eyes
  • sometimes - dizziness

Incubation period

For influenza, about 2 days.

For corona-virus, up to 14 days apparently.

During those incubation days, others can catch it from you. This means you may unknowingly spread it. That means it spreads quickly.

The advice is to stay home, avoid other people and, well, tough it out.

Analysis in Chinese medicine

In case you haven't realised it yet, this site aims to explain in English how Chinese medicine works. You might wonder what Chinese medicine has to offer, when Western medicine has been investigating this virus and what to do about it for many years.

Well, just remember that Chinese medicine has been going for 3000 years at least. It has used very different ways to understand and explain illness, and what to do about it.

Scientists are increasingly discovering that Chinese medical forms of treatment are often just as effective as Western medicine, and sometimes more effective. The WHO approves of acupuncture for many forms of disease.

AND, from Chinese medicine and acupuncture you don't usually get the side effects you experience when taking modern (Western) drugs - medications.

In nearly every case of influenza, SARS and coronavirus, the basic diagnosis is Damp-Heat.

(Bit of technical stuff: this is  classified as being Damp-Heat at the Defensive (wei) level in Chinese medicine. The Defensive (wei) level is the outermost of the Four Levels, which show how hot-type pathogens invade the body, and the damage they do and the way your body resists as diseases penetrate deeper through your defences.)

Everyone is different, of course, so the actual diagnosis has other syndromes which fill out the particular symptom picture you display.

Now before reading on, think about that classification: "Damp-Heat". It's a way of saying that bugs like influenza, corona virus, SARS and the like, prefer a warm damp environment.

If you want to avoid the illness, don't provide it with warm damp conditions. And be extra vigilant in warm damp environments.

Think about it. Where do we get warm, damp conditions?

  • crowded buses and trains
  • hospitals
  • schools
  • nurseries
  • bed
  • kitchens
  • steam rooms
  • sauna
  • swimming pools
  • food and drinks
  • used handkerchiefs or paper tissues
  • shared beds
  • making love
  • mouths and kisses

Think also about how you exchange things. Anything physical you give or receive or share may be covered in the virus. For instance -

  • cash (this disease may be another nudge towards a cashless society)
  • cheques (yes, some of my patients still use them!)
  • notes
  • ATM terminal keypads
  • shared computer keyboards
  • keys that you keep in warm pockets
  • purses, wallets etc, also kept in warm pockets
  • communion wine cups: the Church of Scotland already often uses individual thimblets for communion wine. It may be that we should move towards bringing our own mugs when receiving communion.

All these (places) are either warm and/or moist. The 'air' in or surrounding them is something like fog. Warm, moist air is, for bugs, just heaven!

So, thinking about eradicating the bug, what to do?

If your town has fog, how do you get rid of it?

With some difficulty!

The best way is to wait for

  • the wind to rise, to blow it away, or for 
  • the sun to rise, to burn it away.

Likewise, fresh air helps to clear indoors air that may be stale and contagious: regularly open windows at front and back to let fresh air blow through. The same goes for buses and trains.

Sunlight is death to bugs. Regularly hang out in the sun your bedclothes, cleaning rags, washed towels etc.

What to do

  1. On the question of vaccination there are some remarks which will not please everyone
  2. This page covers how to help yourself avoid this disease
  3. Failing that, it suggests what you can do to ameliorate it

Avoiding Influenza - Vaccination

You may be tempted to get vaccinated against flu. Most governments spend a great deal of effort persuading you of the benefits of the jab. 

Although doctors insist that the latest 'flu vaccines will protect you, there are disadvantages to having the jab, too. And of, course, if the 'flu turns out to be different to the virus against which you've been vaccinated, it won't work much if at all.

What is more, according to recent reviews in the Cochrane Database of Systematic reports, there is very little evidence that the vaccination makes much difference, for instance for the elderly or for the healthcare workers who care for them. Similar reports cast doubt on the beneficial effects of influenza vaccination in children under 2.

I don't know how good the reports by doctors are of the ill-effects of vaccination, but I have seen many patients who developed various complaints in the weeks immediately following immunisation.

The UK flu vaccine was almost certainly ineffective against the main flu affecting us in winter 2017/18. 

A vaccination against corona virus is being prepared but will not have been through trials, let alone made available, until perhaps July 2020, from reports I've seen.

If so, face it, you can't get immunised against this disease.

That means you must take measures to avoid it. Failing that, you must take measures to survive it. See our page Cope with Fever.

Avoiding Influenza - Hygiene

As a virus, influenza, SARS and corona virus spread by entering your body and multiplying there. Droplets of moisture containing the virus enter via your:

  • mouth
  • eyes
  • nose
  • cuts in your skin


Wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water. 

Cut nails short! The virus probably LOVES the space under your nail tips. Deny it a home there! Cut nails SHORT!

Short nails make it much easier to clean hands thoroughly. But don't forget to wash round wrists, at base of thumbs and between fingers.

And then, wherever you are, don't touch your face (including mouth, eyes, nose) with a hand unless you've just washed it! (Believe me, this will be hard! We so often touch our faces, unconsciously.)


So the first thing to do is to stop yourself touching anything possibly contagious. That means wearing gloves. Thin cotton ones are good. They can be worn inside thicker gloves against the cold. Every evening wash your gloves thoroughly and let them dry overnight. Bugs love dampness, so make sure they're dry when you put them on the next day.

By washing them thoroughly, I mean lots of hot soapy water. Then rinsed clean with warm water, lots of it!

If you've been on public transport or in offices or places with many people, your hands or clothes will have been in touch with hand-rails, banisters, ticket machines and door-handles etc which others have touched.

Their touch, if less hygienic than yours, may have spread influenza or cold or corona viruses liberally over the areas they touched.

Read about how long viruses can survive outside the body here.

So wearing gloves can protect you. However, when removing gloves, don't touch the outside of the old gloves with your (now) bare hands because if so, you defeat the whole object of the exercise!

That's because the outside of the discarded gloves are probably covered in others' snot and the viruses they contain. If you touch your face with your bare hands you are transferring the bugs right up close to your nose and mouth!

So before you even start all this, just watch yourself. How often does a hand stray towards your face, cheeks, mouth, nose, eye, or ear? And having scratched your ear, how quickly did the hand stray towards your nose or mouth?!

By the way, have you made a Will and, in the UK, what about a Deed of Attorney?


Not really much use - except for one purpose, mentioned below! If you are contagious and sneeze while wearing a mask it may delay the movement of virus-containing droplets from you out into the environment. But it won't much delay contagious air from someone else into your lungs. Besides, after a few hours, your mask will get warm and damp from the moisture in your breath, making it ideal fertile ground for the virus.

So by all means buy a mask, but do realise that it's not going to protect YOU. It might, however, protect others from YOUR sneezes.

What to do in crowded trains and buses

Don't stand or sit too close to others. (Easier said than done!) But if someone is coughing or sneezing, ask them to face away from you! Stand well clear of them. At least a metre. That increases the time viruses must stay airborne before reaching you.

If the windows in the bus are open, the air draft may waft the bugs out of the window before reaching you. So, make it a habit to open windows, and not just at home! (You feel cold? Wear more!)

A suggestion! Walk or cycle to work if you can, or for part of the journey. The exercise may improve your health a bit, making you more resilient against the virus if, unfortunately, you catch it.

One possible good reason for wearing a mask

However, there is one possible good reason for wearing a mask. This is that it may stop or delay you from putting your contagion-covered fingers in your mouth or up your nose. Its presence may make you more cautious. Those germs you acquired from other people but ...

... they are now YOUR germs! Don't put YOUR germs in YOUR mouth!

Makeup and Mascara

Women! Do you wear mascara on your eyelashes, or put makeup on your face?

Think carefully! Every time you touch your face or eyes with unwashed fingers - either when applying or removing makeup - you could be moving the virus closer to your nose, eyes or mouth.

Family towels

Everyone in the house gets their own towel. Nobody touches anyone else's towel. All towels are washed in HOT water at least twice a week.

Kitchen Towels and Cloths

Ideally let kitchen utensils and dishes drip-dry. Otherwise, wash all towels and cloths in very hot soapy water, several times a week. Let them dry out overnight on rails near warm ovens. Don't pile drying cloths one on another overnight. Never leaves cleaning rags in dirty water overnight. Always squeeze them as dry as possible and hang them somewhere to dry.

Or, sadly - because of environmental considerations - I suggest  you use paper towels as much as possible. Discard them into plastic bags before tying them up then trashing them. (Your local health and safety or environmental health department may have other ideas, of course.)


Beds are warm and damp. If you share a bed with someone infected, you will probably catch the bug. Someone needs to be able to care for the person most affected.  So it is better not to share beds. Eventually, you hope, someone will recover and be able to care for the others. The person who's up will still be very tired and convalescent so if you're now the ill one, be grateful to them. But before you catch each other's bugs, a separate bed may be best.


If you have a baby in the house? Well, all that drooling and shared mouthfuls makes it fairly certain you'll all go down with the bug. If baby was breast-fed by a healthy mum, the chances are baby will survive, having quickly achieved 40C. It may take Mum longer and she'll need support from others. That's probably Dad or grandparents.

If the bug starts by sharing the air, we'll survive it by sharing the care!

Public areas

Resist the temptation to scratch or wipe your eyes when you've been out in public areas. That includes buses, trains, restaurants, shops, elevators, cinemas, theatres, lavatories ...

Be cautious about shaking hands with people. If you do, wash your hands properly before you then touch your mouth or eyes or nose.

One suggestion I saw was to 'bump' elbows instead. Wearing gloves to shake hands should be all right. But not if you take a glove off with one hand and scratch your eye with that hand, if just before you shook someone's hand with that glove. Everything you touch may be contagious. Don't touch anything without wearing gloves!

You may wish to carry a separate plastic bag for gloves you have discarded and intend to wash in the evening.

What about food?

First, take care to wash your hands (warm, soapy water, rubbed into a lather than washed off under clean, running water before being dried with a clean cloth or tissue) before putting them anywhere near your mouth, eyes or nose.

If you must pick your nose, do it through a clean handkerchief!

Wash your hands before eating. Take care to eat food that is properly prepared and cooked, and still hot enough to kill bugs dead. Also, eat from clean plates with clean cutlery.

Take care to cover and protect cuts and abrasions with appropriate dressings.

Avoiding Influenza - Nutrition

Yes, yes, I know about vitamin C. And D. And E. And Zinc. And Cod liver oil. And probably about a few other things that will pop up in time, for instance, lately, Quercitin.

It's not that they are unimportant. If you are undernourished and lack the right nutrition to keep healthy, you'll get sick more easily, and not just from influenza!

For more on this, click on nutrition and supplements.

However, if you expect to be infected within a few days, it may be too late to expect better nutrition to defend you! But read on for important suggestions you can follow.

Some things you CAN do vs influenza

Here is something which, on its own, may be just as effective in making you less susceptible to influenza or corona virus as hygiene.

But you probably won't like it. What is it?

Here we move from preparing to defend ourselves on the outside to marshalling our defences on the inside.

Sugar and Sweeteners. Or rather the LACK of them.

DON'T EAT SUGAR if you want to avoid influenza or corona virus

And I don't mean just sugars - any kind of sweetener including honey, molasses, artificial sweeteners, stevia, maple syrup, golden syrup, corn syrup and any other kind of stuff that is sweet to taste - but also do not eat anything which easily turns into sugar in your stomach.

That includes:

  • white bread or rolls which take only a few minutes to be turned into sugar by your stomach
  • sodas, energy drinks containing sugar or sweeteners, (in the UK these would include Irn Bru, Ribena, Vimto, Tizer and various Cokes and Lucozade for example. In the USA these would include Colas, Cokes, Mountain Dew, Sprite, Fantas, Crush, Sunkist, Dr Pepper ...!)
  • refined flours of any kind
  • cakes, biscuits
  • jams, sweet flavourings, even peanut butter
  • many root vegetables like potato, parsnip, carrot: however, once cooked, cooled and re-heated some root vegetables make good pre-biotics
  • most kinds of fruit, especially very sweet ones like banana
  • dried fruit, even if organic and from the highest, purest Tibetan mountain pastures or similar
  • sweets, chocolates, puddings, sweeties, jelly-babies etc
  • Supposedly healthy foods, like yogurt, that are sweetened
  • (This one I hate to include but ...) Alcohol turns to sugar in your blood pretty fast. Even faster if it's sweetened or very sweet, like many fortified wines, sherry and many cocktails. Just get your head round the fact that alcohol is really a rather dirty form of sugar which, as you digest and metabolise it, can muck up your liver and eventually your life, if you let it.
  • Artificial sweeteners, which confuse your Spleen, in effect making it expect something that doesn't arrive. Besides, artificial sweeteners have many critics - See also this link.

Sorry, but that's not all....

Other Foods to Avoid

  1. Avoid food that is raw or eaten chilled or cold. Why? Because they need more energy to digest. This doesn't matter if you are well and healthy. But when your immune force is lower, as it often is during winter months, it is better to eat food warm.
  2. Avoid milk and dairy products. Why? Because, whether you are sensitive to them or not, dairy products easily increase phlegm in your lungs and throat. Bugs LOVE phlegm!
  3. Avoid strong caffeine drinks. It makes you feel great in the short term but it does so by using up your adrenal energy, so you'll feel worse later. You don't want to feel worse later - you want to feel better later! Again, this probably matters less if you are young, healthy and well. However, when your energy is lower, don't over-stimulate it when you may be needing it to keep going during something much worse, like 'flu. Otherwise, it's like whipping an exhausted horse to go faster: it will, but not for long!

Why all this stuff about avoiding sugar and so on? Because  Chinese medicine considers that it weakens your Spleen energy. All this advice is to help you maintain a healthy Spleen energy so that, if you do catch flu, SARS or coronavirus, your Spleen isn't already weak.

Why? Because what the Chinese call your Spleen in the West we might call your digestion and its ability to nourish all your body and to clear out the garbage. 

If you have flu, you definitely need something that's good with garbage!

I hear you complain! What's left to eat?

You may complain - what is there left? 

Well, most green vegetables are good, (eaten cooked and hot, of course), limited quantities of protein in the form of lentils or nuts, meat and fish are ok.

But since influenza is generally of the damp-heat variety, you may benefit from avoiding foods that are too heating. There's a list under our page 'Hot-Foods' though it's not guaranteed to cover every known food.

Avoid these damp-heat forming foods when threatened by corona virus. This may help your body be a little less susceptible.

Foods classified as hot include some kinds of meat, such as beef and lamb. Chicken is only mildly warm. But avoid spices which heat up the food you eat. Roasting makes food 'hotter' in terms of Chinese medicine. Steaming and boiling are less 'heating'.

Listed below are several dishes that aren't too difficult to make and can be stored and re-heated. Many of them contain starches that you may have been told will make you fat. But if they've been allowed to cool before being re-heated, it turns out that they don't make you fat after all. Furthermore, the starches they contain are ideal pre-biotics.

All these foods are general tonics for you to eat both before, during and after you catch the bug. Mostly they are 'yin tonics' because as you recover from the bug, you will be tired, having used up your resources. If you've had a fever, then you'll have used up many of your yin resources and may be yin deficient. (Click that link to find out more.)

These dishes help to mend your yin deficiency. Make up a supply beforehand and freeze them.


  • Leek and potato soup (re-heated this is also a good pre-biotic and, depending on how you made it, nutritious for someone convalescing from the bug)
  • Clogstoun congee: ideally you make this before you get ill as it provides energy in a very simple and easily absorbed form
  • Clogstoun porridgee which is a kind of porridge that, re-heated is both nourishing and a pre-biotic
  • Celeriac soup (for this and other dishes click here)

When you come to eat them, dilute them! Your weakened digestions may be able to cope only with very weak soups. If you have the strength, boil  a little ginger root in the water you use to dilute them. The ginger will help the convalescent's digestion work better.  If he (she) can't stand ginger, try fennel, though it's not as good.

And don't over-eat. Don't stuff it down! Your body will be more adaptable and nimble in combating the invader if it isn't trying to process an enormous meal. So eat smaller meals. 

And don't graze - ie don't eat a little all the time. Give your digestion time to recover between meals. If you maintain a steady train of food progressing down your throat you could even end up with food-retention. You don't want that either! That's even worse for your Spleen!

Food retention leads on to constipation. (If I'm constipated, I think I'm going to DIE!) You definitely don't want constipation at the same time as influenza or coronavirus!

YOUR SPLEEN also manages your gastro-intestinal tract.

That's where 90% of our immune force lives. You'll be wanting them if you're catching influenza or corona virus!

After all, those 90% are on your side. You can help them by taking pre-biotics (fruits, vegetables, onions and leeks and many grains), pro-biotics (pro-biotics grown in fermented food such as sauerkraut, tempeh and natural unsweetened yogurt) and avoiding sugars.

Why - again - avoid sugar? Because sugar is what the baddies in your gut feast upon. For example, if you want to get thrush, eat lots of sugar! After feasting on it they go out and copulate!

If you want more goodies and less baddies down there, eat sensibly, as I've explained.

What to do if you've caught influenza?

We've got a whole page on this. It covers some of what you've read here already, but it goes into more of what you haven't read.

Take the time to read it! You may thank me.

And stay home, so you don't spread it. Keep warm and drink some water (not too much! Read the Cope with Fever page for why not). And eat sparingly.

Bottom line? Best Advice?

Single best bit of advice, both there and here? But first, please read my disclaimer!

If you are in good health, young and vigorous, don't take analgesics or painkillers or anything that might bring your fever down artificially.

Let your body fire up the furnaces and burn out the influenza and corona virus the way millions of years of evolution have shown works.

Don't eat sugar!

Of course, if you are already very weakened by age or infirmity, seek professional advice. This page is for supposedly healthy people! 

Say 'NO!' to analgesics and SUGAR!

What about AFTER influenza or corona virus?

Please, again, read my disclaimer!

Be careful.

  1. Lots of people die after they've got over influenza, coronavirus or anything like them. Influenza is exhausting and often causes inflammation eg in your blood vessels so heart attacks and strokes become more likely. Older people are more susceptible, because they've had more time to acquire inflammations which come from life's knocks and blows. But young people who live in the fast lane and use Western medicine to suppress health problems can succumb too. Read our page on Suppression.
  2. Diseases like influenza and corona virus weaken not just your Spleen but your Lungs. That means a mild cough that came with influenza may return or persist. That's often when you get pneumonia or, these days TB, both of which are really insidious diseases because you can seem well, when really you're not. Though I dislike antibiotics, this may be when you need them, as they can usually treat pneumonia (though not flu). (Against TB the number of effective treatments is dwindling.) If taking antibiotics, try and find someone to prescribe you Chinese herbs to support your body at the same time. 
  3. Or better, if there's a lot of phlegm with the cough, read my book "Yuck! Phlegm!". It was written for you and it doesn't cost much. You can download it to your Kindle, too.
  4. Drink Sage tea. Why? Well, it's explained in my book but it's good for clearing mucus, for strengthening immunity, and for your lungs. Buy lots of it (dried leaves) and make them into a tisane, taken regularly. 

You need time to recover after influenza or coronavirus, so:

  • Rest more: go out less.
  • Sleep more. Sleep often. Take naps. Lie down!
  • Eat sparingly, continuing to avoid sweet and cold foods
  • Feast on pre-biotics and pro-biotics (see above) and Clogstoun Porridgee to nourish your yin energies and resilience (read more about yin and yang here)
  • However, enjoy a little spicier food if it helps to warm you - root ginger especially. If you like spices, don't take so many that you start perspiring! That would weaken you even more!
  • Exercise a little, in fresh air, but not so you get chilled or exhausted
  • Drink enough to keep your urine from becoming very coloured (that's assuming you aren't eating foods or supplements that colour it, like B vitamins, Beetroot etc.)
  • in your kitchen put a high stool on which you can rest while cooking
  • ... maybe, if you've found this page useful, tell others about it!

More information?

  • Our page Cope with Fever gives advice on how to build resilience and then what to expect and do as you become feverish.
  • Read the New Scientist, 6 January 2018, pages 28 - 32.
  • The UK health authorities may have used a vaccine that was ineffective against the 2017/18 flu (virus-type B) that was then currently most active. See

Booking Consultations with Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott

Click here to see when Jonathan is available, or to BOOK your appointment online. 

Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)

('Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine' published 1986, was never available in a Kindle version.)

Request! Please!

If, having read one of my books you can write a review - preferably positive - that would help others decide whether to read it.

You can put your review on Amazon or, on this site, here.

And if you think it was terrible?

Well, let me know so I can improve it for the next person. (Ideally let me know before cursing it in public!)

Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.

Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can borrow the first four for 'free'.

Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Yuck! Phlegm! How to Clear Your Phlegm ...

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.

Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)

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