Winter Help from Eastern Medicine
Brought to You by Creative Healing for Youth in Pain
Cold and flu season is upon us!
Even if you’re like me and have been on a news fast since 2016, you’ve probably heard about the bombardment of illnesses that are greeting us this holiday season: colds, flu, Covid, RSV. And luckily -- because none of us need more complications in our lives right now -- Eastern medicine has some amazing and easy ways to prevent and/or treat colds and flus.
On Week 1 of my TCM University experience, we covered the subject of “wind-cold” and “wind-heat,” also called “exterior invasions.” Wind-cold and wind-heat are different types of colds and flu.
We can distinguish the cold or heat version based on signs and symptoms. During this time, the invading pathogen is still on the surface and hasn’t yet gone deeper. Intervention at this time is essential and can interrupt the longevity of the virus, so pay attention to your body and learn to recognize the symptoms as early as possible.
Wind-heat has symptoms like fever and sore throat, while wind-cold presents with symptoms like chills, sneezing, and a drippy nose. Sometimes symptoms blend, like chills and fever. Some cases present with a lot of mucus and phlegm, while others are drier and hoarser. Some people experience big, severe symptoms, whereas others may feel exhausted and run down. The location of the virus varies. It can land in the lungs, sinuses, digestion, or head.
Common colds and flu are viral infections that mostly affect the respiratory system. Oddly, some physicians prescribe antibiotics which treat bacterial infections, not viral infections. When we overuse antibiotics, they deplete our healthy bacteria, making us less resistant to infections.
Running to CVS for over-the-counter medications will suppress symptoms, but they won’t help your system fight off the virus. Eastern medicine can help reduce both the symptoms and the duration, and strengthen your immunity -- all at the same time.
When To Go In For Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbs?
Head in for a treatment at the very first sign of feeling a bit run down or unwell.
Common early symptoms may be:
- Slight chilliness
- Sniffles or a few sneezes
- Sensitivity to wind or drafts
- Feeling a little sweaty
- Scratchy throat
- Achy neck and shoulders
Every person is different, therefore every treatment will be tailored to the individual, not only to the disease.
In ancient China, doctors weren’t paid if patients got sick because it was their job to keep them well.
Prevention is key in Eastern medicine and essential to warding off colds and flu. Remember the simple tips we all learned from early Covid-19. Wash your hands very often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when possible.
Wei Qi -- a concept in Eastern medicine -- is our personal outer defense system that protects us from pathogens, like invading viral infections. Simply put, it’s like our immune system. Are you someone who gets sick easily and often? If so, it would be helpful to start treatments before flu season to boost your immune system and tonify your Wei Qi. A popular herbal formula that we use is called Yu Ping Feng San, which translates to “Jade Windscreen.”
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Remedies
Here are a few recommendations which you can do at home:
- Get plenty of rest: Try to increase the amount of sleep you get.
- Keep warm: Take a hot shower or Epsom salt bath. Wear warm clothes and protect your neck with a scarf.
- Stay hydrated, and drink warm liquids and tea: Herbal teas, like ginger and mint, with lemon and organic honey, are excellent choices.
- Soups and stews: Chicken soup really is a wonderful meal for combating a cold, with electrolytes in the broth, acrid onions to produce a light sweat, and chicken for nourishing Qi. You can easily do a veggie version. Here’s one to try: https://iheartvegetables.com/immunity-boosting-soup/
- Soothe your throat: Elderberry lozenges can help.
- Deal with your stress: When we catch ourselves overthinking or worrying too much, it can undermine our health. Too much stress absolutely affects our immunity.
- Supplement: Boost your immune system before flu season with supplements. Here are popular supplements suggested by holistic health providers -- please remember to check with your healthcare practitioner to make sure these are right for you:
- Vitamin B Complex is a combination of B vitamins that strengthens mitochondria, our cellular power packs.
- Vitamin C helps boost your defenses and helps destroy any bad bugs.
- Vitamin D turns on immune responses throughout our body.
- Vitamin E Complex is a powerful antioxidant, which means it stops chemical reactions in the body that can damage cells.
- Multi-strain Probiotics help to regulate immune-response reactions such as allergies, asthma, and viral infections
- Zinc helps develop and improve the cells that make up your immune system.
- Quercetin is an antioxidant that plays an important role in helping your body combat free radical damage.
- Thymuline Homeopathic helps the body create T-cells, which can help to fight viral infection.
Hopefully, the pandemic has taught us many things. Over the past three years, we’ve learned a lot about how to stay healthy and how to help protect our vulnerable friends, family members, and neighbors.
Combining these lessons with what we have learned from Eastern medicine can help us all stay healthy this holiday season and protect those most at risk in our community.