The cool weather has arrived. It’s time to try to remember everything
your mom always told you when you were a child to keep you from getting
sick and do it. Yes, she was right, wind and cold can make you sick or
susceptible to illness, so bundle up, wear a warm jacket, put on a warm
hat and cover your neck. And don’t wear flip-flops or high heels when
it’s cold or raining. Not only does heat escape from your body at your
head, but also at your feet. If your body is busy trying to keep itself
warm, you will be using up the very energy that it needs to fight the
bacteria or viruses it inevitably encounters in the cold and flu
season. Another way to look at it is that by letting heat out of your
body, you are inviting in cold.
You can also warm up your body by adding more warm foods to your diet
when the weather is cold. Hot meals can warm and nourish your body
fluids and soothe your lungs and skin, your body’s main regions of
defense against pathogens. Soups and steamed vegetables such as winter
squash, peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes and yams are excellent
ingredients to incorporate into your meals. Eat hot grains for
breakfast; put some cinnamon on it. Eat what is in season: apples,
beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots,
cauliflower, cinnamon, cranberries, figs, garlic, grapes, leeks, pears,
persimmons, plums, pomegranates, pumpkin, rosemary, thyme, red cabbage,
sage, whole grains, wild rice, winter squash, lamb, red meat, yams and
ginger – preferably not all in the same meal. These foods are all
somewhat warming in nature, and can help keep you warm internally.
Keeping your body warm on the inside as well as on the outside can help
boost your immune system to keep you cold and flu free throughout the
cold weather season. If this is not enough and you do get sick, it does
not mean that your mother was wrong, it means that your immune system
is compromised and in need of further boosting.
Here are some tips for keeping the bacteria or virus from going deeper
into your body:
-Gargle with warm salt water.
-Rinse your sinuses with warm water and sea salt (use precisely:2
teaspoons salt to one pint water. Too much/too little salt will burn!)
-Avoid dairy, wheat, sugar and alcohol which can all increase phlegm
and mucous production.
-Change your diet and eat mostly vegetables and a small amount of
protein (meat, fish or eggs).
-Take Vitamin C (Ester C) and Zinc supplements.
-Take a Chinese Herbal Formula prescribed by your acupuncturist.
We have a number of herbal formulas here at the office that are very
effective at relieving cold and flu symptoms. You may have heard of
them. Yin Chiao is often used when the first signs of a common cold or
flu are present: sore throat, fever, neck stiffness and nausea. Gan Mao
Ling and Zhong Gan Ling are used similarly, but often when symptoms are
more severe. Gui Zi Tang is used when a person is experiencing strong
chills. Cinnamon and Ginger are two of the main ingredients in this
formula. Many of the cold and flu formulas can also be taken
preventively, for exposure to common cold and flu. Taking a formula
before boarding an airplane or visiting a sick friend can often prevent
the bacteria or virus from colonizing.
There are many other ways that you can boost your immune system to keep
colds and flus at bay:
-Wash your hands regularly.
-Avoid touching your face.
-Get some sunshine. UV rays can boost your Vitamin D levels to help
your T-cells fight infection.
-Take Vitamin D3, Vitamin C (Ester C is best), and Zinc supplements.
-Get adequate sleep at night.
-Come in for regular acupuncture treatments.
Please call if you would like to schedule an appointment or pick up an
David Stokke, MS, LAc
2421 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710