We Want to See You When You’re Sick!
By Deanna Tasi
Until you’ve seen us regularly, most people don’t know that acupuncture and Chinese herbs are great for treating and preventing colds and flus. Let’s start by saying, don’t worry about getting us sick! We are in the know on how to protect ourselves when we’re around sick people- from washing our hands, to using essential oils, and disinfecting a space when needed- we’ve got ourselves (and other patients) covered. Now back to you…
Lifestyle Tips to Stay Healthy
Ideally, you’re not getting sick in the first place. Just a few reminders on how to stay well through the cold season:
- Get enough sleep! We all need to sleep more in the wintertime, and even one night of sleep deprivation can suppress your immune system the following day, making you more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. So keep sleep a priority!
- Wash your hands, often! And avoid touching your face, especially when your hands are not clean. If you have kids, teach them to cough into their elbow crease rather than their hands- so they don’t contaminate everything they touch if they’re sick.
- Eat warm/cooked foods. You’ve probably heard us recommend this in general- but this is especially important in the wintertime. All of the body’s organs and systems affect one another- so keeping your digestion working well will help with your immune system.
- Avoid processed sugar. Refined sugar has also been shown to suppress the immune system for at least a few hours after eating it. It can be tough around the holidays to avoid processed sugar entirely- so at least try to minimize your consumption, especially if you’re already feeling run-down.
Stop the Invasion
The best time to ward off a cold is when it’s in its inception. DON’T ignore your body’s initial warning signs- a scratching throat, a string of sneezes, sudden fatigue and spaciness, and just generally feeling run down- we’re here to help! Acupuncture can be a great way to give your immune system a bump, and everyone should have an arsenal of herbs in their medicine cabinet to ward of an invasion. How people get sick varies. Yes, the same cold can manifest differently from one person to another. Maybe you’re someone that always gets a sore throat first, or maybe you get a tickle in your throat and you start getting sniffly and sneezing- talk to us about your tendency, and we’ll make sure you have the proper herbs on hand until you can get in to see us.
Speed up the process
Once you get past a certain progression point of a cold, on some level, you need to let it run its course. But how long it takes you to do so can vary depending on how you take care of yourself while you’re sick and how your health was before getting sick. When you’re relatively healthy and take care of yourself, a cold shouldn’t last more than a few days. Keep following the lifestyle tips (above) for staying well, take your herbs, and rest as much as possible. Acupuncture can also help speed up the process and give relief from some symptoms. As an aside, it’s not helpful to work out when you are sick- especially if you’re feeling fatigued. This is your body signaling you to rest so that it can do the repair work it needs to do. Let your body use it’s energy to get back on track rather than expelling energy through exercising.
When you’re in the middle of an intense head-cold, flu, etc., and you’re astonished at the sheer volume of gook that is coming out of your nose- eat your soup! You probably won’t be starving- but you’ll want to keep your fluid intake up. Soup and hot tea are the best for keeping you nourished and hydrated. Many of us grew up with the idea that drinking orange juice is good for colds, because of it’s supposedly packed with Vitamin C (many vegetables actually have higher Vitamin C). While Vitamin C can be helpful, the cold and sugary nature of orange juice usually just facilitates generating more phlegm. As another aside: if after you eat something you find yourself needing to clear your throat, it is probably contributing to producing phlegm in your body.
Clear up lingering symptoms
If that nasty cold took hold of you and has run it’s course, sometimes we need help clearing lingering congestion or a cough that can last long after the cold. This is where acupuncture and herbs really shine again- we can usually help get you back on track with one treatment and a batch of herbs.
Maintenance through the Cold Season
It is still considered healthy for someone to get a cold about once per year and bounce back within a few days. If you find yourself catching one cold after another, this is a sign that your immune system needs some support. Another sign that you need extra support is if your colds always go straight to your lungs. If an upper respiratory tract infection always moves to your lungs, you may have weakness in your lung’s energy that needs to be addressed.
Stress is another major contributing factor that weakens our immune system. If you are going through an intensely stressful period of time, getting regular treatments can help as a reset button while boosting your immune system. Unfortunately, beyond stress, certain emotions can also make us more susceptible to getting sick. And while experiencing emotions is normal and healthy, getting stuck in one particular emotion for a long period of time takes a toll on your body. In Chinese medicine, each of the organs has an associated emotion that can weaken them. The lungs are weakened by grief and sadness. Once again, acupuncture can be useful for processing emotions and assist in rapid recovery when moving through an especially intense period of grief. Likewise, we may even recommend herbs prophylactically to provide support through periods of intense stress. The frequency of acupuncture treatments to help support someone going through an intense period of stress can vary; anywhere from a couple of times per week to every other week may be best. And as always, we’re happy to help you figure out what is best for you!