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Joshua Geetter L.Ac.



Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is a contagious viral disease which attacks the human respiratory tract. Symptoms include fever & chills, headache, fatigue and body aches, dry cough and nasal congestion.  The flu itself is not normally deadly, but young children, elderly and those with pre-disposing medical conditions can develop life threatening complications such as pneumonia.  The flu season has arrived early and with unusual force. The threat of has precipitated a media blitz with attendant anxiety and confusion over how society and individuals should address the contagion. At the heart of this issue is the question “to immunize, or not to immunize.” 


In support of vaccination:

  • The proportion of Influenza and Pneumonia deaths nationwide officially crested above Epidemic Threshold the week of Oct 4-10, 2009. (1)
  • The CDC officially recommends vaccination for elderly, children, immune compromised persons, those with pre-disposing respiratory conditions and healthcare workers. (3)
  • Although current strains of influenza have “drifted” genetically from the available vaccine, the current vaccine has some claimed crossover coverage over the drifted strain. (4)
  • Telluride is susceptible to the flu due to cold environment, proximity of population indoors and influx of tourists carrying pathogens.
  • The infamous influenza outbreak of 1918-1919 killed 10% of Telluride residents and ravaged San Miguel County. (5)


In support of vaccination alternatives:

  • Traditional Chinese medical theory holds that immunizations deny the body an immune building workout and internal cleansing afforded by skillful negotiation of disease process, and that the vaccination itself constitutes a Latent Pathogenic Factor (LPF) resulting in chronic fatigue, ADD, ADHD, Failure to Thrive and other physical and emotional pathologies.(6)
  • Western alternative medical theory parallels the position of the traditional Chinese
  • Serious documented reactions to immunization including death are a fact.(7)
  • Preventative medical, lifestyle, nutritional and other protocols exist to ward off the flu. Commensurate treatment protocols also exist if influenza does attack.

   The immunization debate boils down to personal physical constitution and ideals.  Each and every individual in our community must assume the personal responsibility for making an informend decision.


A Third Option: Combining Chinese therapy with Vaccination

   During the 2003-2004 Avian flu scare the author, a healthcare worker and Oriental medical practitioner, chose to receive vaccination, but to treat it as an invasion of flu. Within hours of receiving the shot 8 acupuncture needles were inserted surrounding the vaccination site along with a complete body acupuncture protocol of points for treating cold and flu. Herbal treatment for flu followed the same day. In this way the pathogen was treated accordingly, minimizing potential for adverse reaction to the vaccination. People don’t expect an acupuncturist to go for immunization. This decision highlights the need for close personal analysis in making the immunization decision. As a healthcare worker I have high exposure, and responsibility not to pass influenza to my patients. As a practitioner of Oriental Medicine I have effective tools to treat the immunization as an attack of influenza. The decision to use an integrated East-West approach illustrates another choice, a middle path, and a path now available to anyone in our community.    


Explaining Oriental Medical Prevention and Treatment:

   Preventative care is the hallmark of traditional Oriental medicine wherein patient and practitioner work towards optimum health. Traditionally the Chinese doctor could be fired or work for free should the patient fall ill. If the patient was of royalty, the doctor could even be jailed or executed! Chinese doctors were strongly motivated to clinical success. Following are standard preventative and treatment protocols from the Oriental medical model:

   Prevention is synonymous with the herbal formula “Yu Ping Feng San, The Jade Windscreen Formula.” Astragalus Membranacea, a clinically proven immune tonic (8), is the main ingredient. Two other herbs, Atractalodes Macrocephalae and Ledebouriella Divericata, support the Astragalus and firm the bodies’ natural defenses. Across Asia millions of people depend on this formula with preventative acupuncture where Westerners use a flu shot. The formula takes about a month to significantly build immunity to influenza and a broad range of other seasonal pathogens. The influenza vaccination takes three weeks to cover a much smaller specific range of pathogens. I carry Jade Windscreen in both pill and raw herbal forms in my pharmacy.  

   Chinese herbal treatment at first flu signs and symptoms is synonymous with the formula “Yin Qiao Bai Du San, The Honeysuckle and Forsythia Combination.” This formula is analagous to Western “Cold Snap” type preparations. When used during early stages, Yin Qiao can expel the pathogen before the Flu takes hold. I advise patients to keep Yin Qiao on hand as timing is crucial to success.  I stock Yin Qiao both in raw-herb  and patented pill forms in my pharmacy.

   If immune building and first strike treatment do not avert the flu, Chinese Medicine has sophisticated specific treatments for all stages and types of cold and flu disorders. Two thousand years ago a young man watched in horror as 80% of his village died of flu like “Cold Induced Disorders.” He later became the famous Chinese physician Zhang Zhong Jing, author of the “Shang Han Lun” or Classic of Cold Induced Disorders: a complete body of medical theory and practice.  The herbal therapies contained therein address every stage and variation of cold and flu  disorders, and when combined with appropriate acupuncture  they constitute specific and effective treatment for all stages of colds, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and the infamous “Telluride Crud.” All acupuncturists are required to study this classic. Due to the elegant and stage specific formulas contained in this work, it is invaluable information for treating the flu like pathologies which Telluride acupuncturists invariably see in practice.

   The author recommends using Jade Windscreen and stocking Honeysuckle & Forsythia Combination, and using Chinese medicine to mitigate reactions to vaccination if vaccination is chosen. A combined East-West treatment strategy if flu arrives is also suggested.



   Influenza-A is a serious illness which deserves serious consideration on an individual level. This year’s flu is of particular concern practically demanding a personal preventative and treatment strategy. Both allopathic Western and Traditional Chinese medical models offer effective prevention and treatment programs. The American public mainly chooses one or the other to prepare for or treat the flu. The author presents for public consideration an integrated approach which utilizes the best of both medical models for the highest public benefit.



  • Center for disease control.
  • Ibid #2
  • Ibid #2
  • Paul O’Rourke Telluride Magazine Winter 2003-2004, pg.72
  • Julian Scott & Theresa Barlow Pediatrics in Chinese Medicine 2000
  • Ibid #2
  • Bensky, Dan L.Ac. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Formulas & Strategies 1990 Eastland Press, Seattle WA
  • Additional Bibliography and Reading List available


Joshua Geetter is a Telluride Acupuncturist and Herbalist who hails from a Family lineage of medical doctors. Integrative care and collaboration with Western medical practitioners is a hallmark of his “team-player” approach to public health. He has some of the most clinically and cost effective prevention and treatment protocols for Influenza to be found anywhere. He can be found at  728-6084.

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