As the weather starts to cool, it’s more essential than ever to maintain a healthy immune system. Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid getting sick, what to do at the beginning of an illness, mid-illness and after illness to rebuild your immune system. Remember, the best and most effective way to avoid illness is to wash your hands thoroughly!
The signs you might be coming down with something
As invincible as we may feel, we often ignore the initial signs of getting sick. Things like: fatigue, aching neck, or an occasional sneeze. In Chinese medicine, the neck also known as the “wind-gate” allows pathogens (illness) to enter the body. The two main pathogens we consider is wind-heat or wind-cold. Wind-heat usually manifests with a sore throat, feeling warm, yellow or green-colored phlegm, and aversion to heat. Wind-cold usually manifests with chills, aversion to cold, stiffness in body or neck, headache, and white or clear-colored phlegm.
So what can you do?
Cover your wind-gate! Wear a scarf, or a hoodie to keep the back of the neck warm and protected.
Boost your immunity through regular acupuncture visits, yoga, plenty of water intake (at least 1-2 liters per day), a healthy diet (see my blog about resetting your metabolism) and regular exercise (at least 30 minutes per day). During cold and flu season, especially if you think you may be regularly exposed, take a daily dose of vitamin C, elderberry, or echinacea. Boost Lung qi through breath work and meditation (check out my blog: Intro to Meditation). Get plenty of sleep (see my blog about sleep hygiene)!
If you’re not feeling up to leaving the house, you can purchase an Acu-Essentials Immune Kit and treat yourself at home!
Get a neti pot! I know it sounds crazy, but the neti pot cleans the sinuses, clearing out allergens and inflammatory particles. It works great preventatively and can also be used once you are stuffed up and miserable.
The minute you feel any of the early symptoms…
This means your cold is still on the exterior, you want to knock it out before it goes interior.
- Make an appointment with your acupuncturist same day, if possible.
- Boost your vitamin C intake (2000 mg/day).
- Massage the base of the skull to stimulate the wind gate.
- Massage Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4 acupuncture points strongly (avoid if you are pregnant).
- Take an epsom salt bath with 2 cups of salts and a couple slices of fresh ginger
- Drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or fire cider) mixed with 4 oz. of warm water.
- Neti Pot!
- Gan Mao Ling is a commonly prescribed Chinese Herb to take in the early signs of illness, please before taking an supplements talk to an herbalist or health care provider.
So you missed the signs…
Now you’re sick, and miserable, and sad. Here are some things you can do to feel a little better.
- Neti pot! Clear out phlegm and mucous to keep the nasal passages breathable and the take a load of pressured sinuses.
- If you have a stuffy nose, massage Large Intestine 20, Bladder 2 and Gallbladder 14.
- To stimulate the immune system, massage Lung 7 and drink echinacea tea.
- If you’re coughing up phlegm, massage Lung 4.
- For sore throat, massage CV22 and try Loquat Syrup, manuka honey throat and chest syrup, and throat coat tea.
After you get better
Sometimes, once we feel better, we forget we were ever sick! Being sick depletes the body, it’s important to build yourself and your immune system and body back up with acupuncture. Acupuncture is an amazing preventative treatment. Many of my patients come once a month to once every 6 weeks for maintenance. We rebalance the system, move stagnations and build deficiencies.