June 13, 2019

By Hannah Sutton

Are you starting to feel a bit run down and on the verge of coming down with a cold/flu? 

Get ahead of it this Winter with the following helpful tips

Winter has well and truly arrived and with it the sound of coughs & sniffles!   With the fast-paced demands of our modern lives, we often feel there is an expectation to “solider on” when we are unwell.  However, pushing through when we come down with symptoms often prolongs the illness and can lead to recurrent infections.

Most people don’t realise that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can effectively reduce the length and severity of common cold/flu.  Plus, having regular acupuncture treatments can strengthen the immune system to prevent illness in the first place.

Here we have some tips for natural cold and flu treatment and prevention.

Early warning Signs – Exterior Defence Qi is Vulnerable

Early intervention is the key!!  If you recognize these symptoms and treat accordingly, you have a very high chance of avoiding an illness all together.

  • Fatigue
  • Stiff neck
  • Sneezing
  • Dry, itchy or scratchy throat
  • Aversion to wind and cold

 

Recommendations:

  • REST!   At the first sign of cold or flu you should rest your body.  By resting you are going to allow your body to throw all its energy into the immune system to fight of the infection.   Where you can, cut back on your normal routines and don’t do any vigorous exercise.   In China they say “If you want to recover from your illness, 30% is from treatment, 70% from resting”.
  • Eat – warm, well-cooked bland food.   You really can’t go past good ol’ Chicken Soup.  Add aromatic ingredients such as garlic, ginger, spring onion, and coriander to foods.   Follow your appetite.  Eat more plant foods such as vegetables and fruit
  • Drink – fresh ginger tea or manuka honey and lemon juice in hot water.  Drink lots of warm or room temperature water.
  • Sweat it out – have a magnesium/Epsom salts bath with a few drops of essential oils. Try inducing a light sweat by quickly wrapping yourself up after the bath and get into bed to sweat out the pathogen. Rest & have a good night sleep.  DO NOT follow this process if you have a high fever.
  • Supplements – such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Olive Leaf Extract, Echinacea may also help in reduce severity of cold and flu.
  • Acupuncture – this is the most effective time for treatment.  The earlier you seek treatment, the quicker you will recover.

 

 

 

Initial Symptoms – Wind-Cold Invasion

Symptoms start becoming more noticeable.  In Chinese Medicine terms the pathogen is still considered to be on the exterior and relatively easy to treat.   Ignoring the symptoms or “soldiering on” however can allow the pathogen to enter deeper into the body making it much harder to resolve.

  • Runny nose, sinus
  • Sore throat
  • Slight dry, non-productive cough
  • Nasal congestion – clear mucus
  • Body aches or a mild headache
  • Chills and/or Low-grade fever

 

Recommendations:

  • REST!  Take the day off and rest.  Get into bed and stay warm.
  • Aches & Pains – have a magnesium/Epsom salts bath with a few drops of essential oils.  If you only have a mild fever you can try to induce a sweat.
  • Sore throat – try drinking chrysanthemum tea or gargle with warm salty water three times a day.
  • Sinus flush – to clear congestion try doing some nasal irrigation using warm salty water and a syringe or neti pot.  Alternatively, you can use saline nasal sprays from the pharmacy.
  • Steam Inhalation – hot steaming over a bowl or in the shower to help shift congestion.  Use a few drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus and steam for at least 5 minutes.  Facial massage to stimulate lymphatic drainage and acupressure following steaming is effective in helping shift congestion.
  • Cough – apply a eucalyptus bases rub to upper chest, back and feet.  You can also use a vaporiser to diffuse fragrant essential oils to help you breathe easier.
  • Drink – lots of warm water & teas.  Lemon & honey, ginger & lemongrass, peppermint.
  • Eat – simple bland, warm, nourishing foods.  Soups & stews.  Avoid wheat, dairy, alcohol and sugar – these foods can hinder the body’s ability to fight off infection and dairy tends to generate more mucus.
  • Acupuncture – get treatment with acupuncture, cupping, guasha & herbal medicine.  If you move quickly at this stage there is still a good chance of avoiding the illness from progressing deeper.
  • Acupressure – try these points to help give you some relief away from the clinic.  Press and hold the point for 2 minutes on both sides of the body.  Press and hold the point on each side of the body that will help with your specific symptoms.

NASAL CONGESTION/ HEADACHE

LI4 – squeeze the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger.

NASAL CONGESTION

LI20 – press your index fingers into the depression at the side of your nostrils

SORE THROAT

LU11 –  press your fingernail into the area below your thumbnail

HEADACHES

GB20 – pressing on the areas at the back of your neck below  the skull bone

REDUCE FEVER / EAR ACHE / EYE PAIN

TB3 – press into the depression between the 4th & 5th metacarpal bones

EXPEL WIND-COLD

LU7 – press small depression on side of wrist, about 2cm from the wrist crease

 

Full Symptoms – Wind-Heat Invasion

As the pathogen moves internally the symptoms progress quickly and bacterial infection can develop.  When the mucus changes colour from clear & white into yellow & green this indicates the infection setting in.

  • Very sore and swollen throat
  • Headache
  • Cough becoming heavier and more productive
  • Congestion with yellow/green mucus
  • Thirst
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

 

Recommendations:

  • REST! REST REST!  Are you getting the message??  Get into bed and stay there.
  • Drink – keep the fluids up, lots of warm water & teas.  Lemon & honey, ginger & lemongrass, peppermint.
  • Eat – simple bland, warm, nourishing foods.  Chicken/bone broths with fragrant herbs.  Follow your appetite.  Continue to avoid wheat, dairy, alcohol and sugar.
  • Manage Symptoms – continue with remedies to manage sore throat, sinus congestion and cough
  • Eat – simple bland, warm, nourishing foods.  Soups & stews.  Avoid wheat, dairy, alcohol and sugar – these foods can hinder the body’s ability to fight off infection and dairy tends to generate more mucus.
  • Acupuncture – treatment at this stage of the illness will require stronger action but is still beneficial in helping you move through the illness much faster.

 

 

 

Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure.  These are some simple diet and lifestyle tips to help boost your immunity and keep you well over the winter months.

  • Guard against Cold – dress appropriately!   Protect yourself from the cold & wind by wearing warm socks, a hat and keep the chest & lower back covered.                                                        Most importantly protect the nape of the neck with a scarf or high collar and make sure you dry your hair before bed or going outside.                                                       If you have been for a work-out in your “active wear” make sure you have some warm pants & jacket to put on over top before going out in the cold.  Stay away from air-conditioning and drafts.
  • Rest/Balance – try to enjoy a balanced life.  Avoid putting excessive stress/strain on your body with overwork and over-scheduling your life as this will compromise your immunity.  Slow down, rest & sleep – it is very important to get adequate rest through the winter months when your body is trying hard to keep warm.
  • Bone broth – include in your weekly menu planner.  Bone broths are very warming & nourishing; beneficial to gut health and therefore boosts immunity.  Add loads of vegetables, fragrant fresh herbs, garlic and ginger.
  • Food – try to eat warm/cooked foods and warm/room temperature drinks.  Opt for slow cooked meals, soups & casseroles.  Avoid raw foods & salads.  Iced drinks are definitely out!  A balanced diet is integral to gut health and therefore a healthy immune system.  Incorporating some fermented foods in your daily diet is also beneficial ie. kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir.
  • Exercise – incorporate regular, gentle exercise into you day.  Walking, stretching, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Qi Gong.  Aim for 20-30min of exercise three times a week.
  • Sun Exposure – if there happens to be a sunny winter day try to get out in it and breath in the fresh air!   Vitamin D is essential to a good immune system
  • Supplements – taking a good quality multivitamin during the winter months is a good idea, especially if you aren’t good at following a balanced diet.  Essential nutrients such as B Vitamins, Zinc, Vitamin D & Vitamin C are beneficial for promoting wellness.  It is not a good idea to be taking strong dispersing supplements such as Echinacea & Olive leaf extract long-term, save these for when you feel the first sign of cold/flu.
  • Acupuncture – monthly acupuncture tune ups to promote wellness & boost your immunity.  Prevention is the best medicine ;0)
  • Acupressure – make it a habit to press on this acupuncture point every day.  Stomach 36 (ST36) has the function of boosting your immunity, improving digestion and building vitality.  It is located 4 finger widths below the base of knee cap and one thumb width out form shin bone.  Press and hold the point for 2 minutes on both sides of the body.

 

If you have some signs and symptoms of cold/flu or wish to improve your immunity it may be worth considering acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine.  These simple lifestyle factors can sometimes be hard to incorporate, this is where your acupuncturist comes in.  A consultation involves going into detail about all the aspects of your health including your sleep, diet and levels of physical activity and stress.  Your acupuncturist will then provide you with dietary and exercise suggestions tailored to your body.

 

Contact the clinic now on (03) 5429 3610 to book an appointment or to find out more! 

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