Just Say “NO” To the Cold & Flu With Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine
Say YES To Increased Immunity With My Five Easy Tips
We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season and people are dropping like flies—straight to bed with a box of tissues, NyQuil and well-deserved self-pity. Don’t be one of them! As an acupuncturist, I’m not immune to germs, BUT I have tricks up my sleeve for staying healthy.
But first, if you do get sick, keep in mind that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a powerhouse remedy for the common cold and flu, and the sooner you treat it, the better. During this time of year I often get calls from patients who apologetically say that they can’t come in for their appointment because they’re sick. My immediate response is an emphatic, “COME IN!”.
Acupuncture, gua sha, cupping, and moxibustion—combined with Chinese herbal formulas— can provide immediate relief from cold/flu symptoms and drastically reduce the length of the infection. Chinese herbs are used in much the same way as antibiotics, but are safer and don't have the nasty side effects.
While Western medicine only offers symptomatic treatment — decongestants, fluids and rest — Chinese medicine takes a proactive role in eliminating the pathogen and resolving the disease process. It also boosts overall immunity. In fact, acupuncture boosts the immune system's production of natural killer cells for up to 3 days after each treatment! This means you’ll be less likely to catch the next bug going around your office AND avoid longer-term issues.
Tips For Boosting Immunity and Avoiding Sickness:
Be like a bear and hibernate.
Winter is the time to rest and conserve our Qi— going inwards, just like nature around us. Get at least 7 hours per night of sleep. This is the single, most impactful action you can take to improve your immunity, energy level, mood, and overall health. Anything less than 7 hours basically zaps your health. According to a study by the Sleep Research Society, those who sleep only 5-6 hours per night are a whopping 4.5 more times susceptible to catching a cold.
Give your gut some love.
A balanced immune system depends on a healthy and strong digestive system. This means our gut bacteria need to be in balance. Add in a daily probiotic (at least 15 billion per dose) and incorporate fermented foods (fermented veggie, kimchi, miso, non-dairy yogurt) into your diet.
Eat for warmth.
When it comes to what you’re eating, 'warm and cooked' should be your mantra. This is NOT the time to add more cold to your already cold body with cold and raw foods. Hold off on salad, smoothies and the like until it’s warmer outside. Make roasted veggies, stews and soups your mainstay and incorporate warming herbs like cinnamon, ginger, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper. The right yummy foods will add heat to your body and stoke your digestive fire.
Dress to boost body temp.
Research confirms that a higher body temperature can tremendously increase immunity, strengthen the endocrine system and boost the body’s basal metabolic rate. First, (and I know I sound like your Mom), dress warmly and cover the back of your neck and head. Colds tend to enter us through the nape of the neck, which is why many colds start as a stiff neck and shoulders. Second, keep your core (torso) warm. A warm core is able to readily release blood to the extremities. Do this by wearing a Japanese Haramaki (hara- center; maki - wrap) to keep it warm. You can find them on Amazon.
I’m obviously biased because I’m an acupuncturist, but it is a fact that acupuncture creates physiological changes that regulate immune function. For starters, it can cause a rise in levels of interferon, one of the immune system’s messenger hormones, and it boosts the immune system's production of natural killer cells for up to 3 days after each treatment. Now that’s what I call cold and flu protection!