The leaves are not so vibrant, maybe even showing a tinge of brown or red. Dusk is coming earlier, and you don’t know why but you need a bowl of soup and an extra hour of sleep. This is the time of year to get excited about getting cozy and holiday planning, but in the back of our minds there’s something we know is coming that is much less exciting to prepare for – cold and flu season. Here it comes, arm in arm with allergies to put a damper on our pumpkin-spiced fun. It may feel like sneezing, congestion and a foggy head are a necessary part of this yearly transition, but Chinese Medicine is equipped with tools that can help.
Prevention is (almost) Everything
The best way to get through a cold is to never get one in the first place. Sick days, missed work and the general misery of trying to function normally through your busy life while fuzzy headed and drippy-nosed is enough to make you want to hibernate through an otherwise joyful season. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help boost up your body’s defenses to better fight off cold and flu before it takes hold. Coming in for even a couple treatments at the beginning of the season to help strengthen and rebalance your body can help equip your immune system to fight the good fight in the months ahead. As the weather gets colder, the body pulls a lot of it’s resources inward. While this is helpful to protect our organs and conserve our energy, it can cause a short term weakness in our body’s defenses. Acupuncture and herbs help boost your defenses and move them to areas that are more vulnerable during the fall and winter seasons, like the lungs.
If that cold gets through anyway
Believe it or not, traditional Chinese medicine is very effective at treating the common cold or flu. While we’ve found that once a cold sets in most people want to snuggle under their blankets and wait it out, our patients who come in for treatment get back on their feet faster and can save their sick days.
Listen to your body
There are things that we do intuitively that are reflected and explained in theory of traditional Chinese medicine. When I was in graduate school earning the degree that would allow me to practice, I continually found validation in what my body instinctively craved in the winter time.
Wear that scarf: Chinese medicine refers to the nape of the neck as the “wind gate.” That is to say, if left exposed to the elements, a cold or head-wind could enter this “gate” and cause you all kinds of trouble. If you’re dashing out the door, it’s worth taking a moment to grab a scarf not just to keep your warm while the car warms up, but to protect you from getting sick.
Eat comfort foods: Yep. You’re hearing that from me, Lainey the nutrition student and whole foods advocate. Your body craves comfort food for a reason, especially in the winter. During this season your whole body, and especially your digestive system, will thank you for slow-cooked soups and stews. These foods are deeply nourishing, especially if you include bone broth and sweet root veggies like beets and sweet potatoes. To avoid a cold your system needs to be performing at it’s best, and nourishing yourself with thicker, slow-cooked food items will give it the boost that it needs. Watch our Facebook page for recipes!
Cook with warming spices: The types of spices that season our winter favorites also tend to help keep us healthy! Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom are especially proficient at helping to warm the body from within and keep colds at bay. Sprinkle some in your coffee or on some roasted sweet potatoes!