Brr! The weather has completely changed in Santa Cruz in the last 2 weeks! With this shift in weather, I am starting to see the yearly cycle of patients coming in with the sniffles, wheezes, sneezes and phlegm. I put cold and flu "season" in quotations here because "season" implies that getting the flu is just a natural cyclical flow and an unavoidable part of life. I disagree with the language around this. I believe that for most people, if you can support your immune system and take appropriate actions to protect yourself from the the cold and flu bugs that are migrating through the population, you can get past cold and flu season with little to no drama.
WEAR A SCARF, CLOSE YOUR "WIND GATE"
In Chinese medicine, we call "external pathogens" aka cold/flu bugs "wind". And the back of your neck and occiput of your head is known as the "wind gate" because that is often the location "wind" hits first. Think back to how it feels when you catch a cold/flu. Likely, one of the first signs that hits you is muscle aches and pain along your "wind gate". When you go out in the brisk air, be sure to shut your "wind gate" by wearing a scarf. Especially be cautious when you are going from a nicely warmed room to the outdoors because your pores are open and ready to catch the cold!
EAT THE SEASONS
Folks, it is now time to put away your salad forks. Eat with the seasons! Cook yourself some good hearty stews and soups. Start roasting those beautiful winter squashes! The colder months are the time to be conserving energy. By eating cold foods, our bodies must "cook" the food before it gets digested. Give your digestive system a break this fall and winter season by cooking your food before it hits your Stomach!
SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Andrographis Complex is a fantastic formula comprised of Echinacea, Holy Basil and Andrographis. It is perfect as preventative care for folks who seem to catch the flu everytime someone in the office has it, or for the patient who has allergies that has a tendency to develop into the cold or asthma. The Echinacea present in this formula supports normal immune system function so that you are better able to fight off those icky viruses that make their way through our social circles.
If you do end up getting sick, many of my patients find relief from their symptoms with Euphrasia Complex. It is a combination of Eyebright herb, Golden Seal, Echinacea, Goldenrod herb and Cayenne. Eyebright herb specifically targets the mucous membranes of the nasal passages. The spicy nature of Cayenne helps clear the passages. The Goldenseal and Goldenrod herbs have a specific effect on nasal passages.
I also keep a stock of my special "Nasal Oil" which is a unique mix of White Flower oil, Lavendar oil and Eucalyptus oil. It is the perfect tool to help clear that head cold. I recommend that patients add it to their bath, to take a sniff of it when they feel that their noses are plugged or treat themselves to a steam with it. I am happy to give you a complimentary sample if you want to try it out!
WHY I DON'T RECOMMEND THE FLU SHOT FOR EVERYONE
- The flu vaccine only stops the flu in 1.5 out of every 100 adults.
- The side effects of the influenza vaccine is....guess what? Flu signs and symptoms! More serious side effects include pneumonia and inflammation of the Stomach and Intestines. Is it worth it to expose yourself to these risks for a 1.5% chance of not getting the flu?
- The influenza virus evolves at an extremely high rate which makes it an ever-evolving target for vaccine manufacturers. What the vaccination companies are doing are making a prediction on how the virus will evolve by the time it hits our locale. This predictability is inconsistent at best and just plain wrong in other times.
- Do you still think you need the flu vaccine? If you do, keep in mind that most flu vaccines are incubated in an egg based culture. For those folks who are allergic to eggs, request that you receive the non-egg based vaccination.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR ACUPUNCTURIST AS SOON AS YOU START FEELING SYMPTOMS!
Too often I see patients who complain that they catch every flu/cold that migrates through the office. If this is your story, be proactive and get yourself on a effective regimen that is going to support your immune system as you go into the colder months. Each patient is different so it is important to work with your acupuncturist to see what steps you have to take.
If you do start feeling those initial symptoms muscle aches, schedule a session with your acupuncturist and request that they cup and guasha your "wind gate" to prevent the pathogen from burrowing deeper into your body.
I have highlighted three fantastic products that will help support you through the cold and flu "season" but every patient is different and we can discuss a specific treatment plan to help keep you and your immune system healthy during your appointment.