Viral infections are actually better treated with herbal prescriptions. Many scientists use herbal active ingredients for treatments of viral-based diseases such as AIDS, influenza. Unfortunately they mostly base their research on microscopic level of one or two active chemical ingredients from the herbs rather than the overall effectiveness of hundreds of natural chemical compounds found in the herbs. And they have neglected the usage of these herbs based on traditional theories such as characteristics, nature, taste, target organs of the herbs and so on.
If we read newspapers in Chinese language around the world, there are plenty of info about herbal treatments as well as precautions of influenza, and influenza A (H1N1; formerly Swine Flu) belongs to one of them. Different body types require different prescriptions. And different stages of the disease manifestations require alterations to prescriptions too. Therefore, the timing is crucial.
For precautions or strengthening our body immune system, one can use a formula such as: 防风 (Fang Feng) 6g, 黄芪 (Huang Qi) 12g, 白术 (Bai Zhu) 12g, 大枣 (Da Zao) 1pc. This formula is good for those who tend to sweat relatively more and get cold easily. The tongue impression should be pale and a little obese and pulse being weak. This formula also helps for people of weak digestion due to weak spleen. By enhancing the energy production of spleen and lungs, our bodies thus are able to generate a layer of protection around our skins, preventing us from catching cold and flu. If the local weather is hot, add 菊花 (Ju Hua) 9g.
Where as for people whose bodies are lacked of energy and inner fluid, the following formula can help to retain fluid in the body so as to prevent inner heat. They are: 党参 (Dang Shen) 12g, 麦冬 (Mai Dong) 9g, 五味子 (Wu Wei Zi) 6g. People with this body type tend to have less fur coating on the tongue and complain of dry mouth.
In terms of creating a shield around the skin to prevent flu infection, former prescription is more powerful. The later serves better in preserving yin fluid to prevent onset of sore throat, headache, itchy throat and so on.
There are also those whose bodies are of the heaty and mighty type. For this category of people, they can afford to take prescriptions that are more cooling and detoxifying: 夏枯草 (Xia Ku Cao) 15g, 板蓝根 (Ban Lan Gen) 9g, 金银花 (Jin Yin Hua) 9g, 紫花地丁 (Zi Hua Di Ding) 12g, 蒲公英 (Pu Gong Yin) 15g, 连翘 (Lian Qiao) 6g, 生甘草 (Sheng Gan Cao) 6g. This formula is also suitable for people who live in high-risk cities as it's very effective against viral threats. Do bear in mind that the cooling and bitter nature of these herbs can hurt the stomach and spleen functions if used for unnecessarily long period. Alterations is necessary to suit different manifestations due to local climate and seasonal changes.