Cold and Flu season is officially upon us.  Flu shots are being offered everywhere from Target to our children’s school nurse’s office. Our Apothecary offices’ phones are ringing off the hook, with patients trying to schedule an acupuncture session to help them relieve their symptoms.  What many people don’t realize is that there are many ways to help boost your immunity and ward off pathogens before you get sick.

Tips to stay healthy this Flu Season:

1.  When our body’s defenses are weakened, whether from stress, poor diet or lack of sleep, we are more susceptible to invasion from foreign pathogens, and less able to “bounce back” once we do get sick. Acupuncture and herbal remedies can strengthen your immunity, both so that you can avoid getting sick altogether, and recover much more quickly if you do become ill.  While it is best to begin boosting your qi with acupuncture and herbs before flu season is upon is, any treatment is better than none!  There is even an acupuncture point that we consider an “Acupuncture Flu Shot” — ST 36 with moxibustion.  I developed Cold-Ease Tea as part of Ariele’s Apothecary’s Artisanal Line of Small-Batch Blends.  Cold-Ease Tea is an herbal blend for cold, flu and allergy relief. Cold-Ease will get you through cold, flu and allergy season. We’ve blended important immune-boosting, anti-microbial herbs to help prevent the onset of cold and infections, while also supporting and strengthening the immune system during an existing cold or flu. It reduces inflammation, soothes the throat and clears phlegm, so is perfect for allergy relief as well. Great for kids above age 1.

2. Health and immunity actually stems from our digestion.  When our digestive organs are strong, we are easily able to absorb all the nutrients from our food and send it out to the rest of our body.  Of course, eating food with actual nutrients is a big part of the equation!!  Clean, minimally processed foods are essential to keep our body healthy.  If you do have digestive weakness, Acupuncture strengthens your digestion, and there are many herbal remedies that an acupuncturist can prescribe to help as well.  Probiotics and digestive enzymes are also extremely helpful to assimilate the food you eat.  If your immunity has been low, or you feel like you have been plagued by constant colds, I highly recommend reducing or even eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet, at least for the cold/ flu season.

3.  Your lungs are your first line of defense against pathogenic organisms, so it is imperative to keep your lungs strong.  If you smoke, do whatever you can to stop.  Smoking is a sure-fire route to diminished health.  Minimize inhalation of environmental toxins: avoid chemical cleaning products and exposure to other chemical fumes.  I’ve been loving Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner.   It is a green, ecologically friendly, plant-based cleaner containing Thieves and Lemon Essential oils.  It is safe for use around children and pets, and can actually strengthen your immunity as you clean!

4.  The reality is that, no matter how healthy you are, there are a lot of germs that we come in contact with daily.  Hand washing is essential, and I swear by Thieves Oils. Thieves is an anti-microbial blend of essential oils of clove, cinnamon bark, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus, and has been proven to be 99.9 percent effective at killing airborne bacteria.  I spray myself with Thieves Spray  in between each of acupuncture sessions, and diffuse the oil in both my offices and homes.  I add just five drops to the humidifier in my children’s room, and I believe it helps to keep them healthy through the winter months.

IF YOU DO GET SICK…. 

It’s important to recognize that symptoms such as fever and chills are your body’s way of letting you know your immune system is functioning.  A fever indicates that their body is fighting off whatever has invaded.  Fever medication does reduce the symptoms, but it actually also stops your body from “burning off” the bug!

Below are some natural remedies
and tips for fighting colds and flu:

Fever:

  • Cool bath with drops of lavender or lemon essential oil, or even lemon juice

  • Sip water or chamomile tea with lemon and honey (for children over 12 months old)

  • Steam or humidifier with detoxifying essential Oils: lavender, clary sage, rosemary, eucalyptus, clove and tea tree (Such as Thieves Blend)

Colds:

  • Keep food intake light… reduce sugar, dairy, starches and meats.  Garlicky  and Gingery Broths and vegetable juice, lemon water are best.

  • For sore noses, you can rub a drop of coconut butter on the inside of each nostril.

  • One of my favorite products is Raven Crest Botanicals Breathe Easy Chest Rub.  It contains the essential oils of eucalyptus, camphor, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile.  You can rub it on your back, chest and even the soles of your feet to help reduce cough.

Sore Thoat:

  • Warm water or chamomile tea with lemon and honey

  • Make your own herbal honey: Mix a drop each of mint, sage, eucalyptus and lavender with a few tablespoons of honey.  Mix well and give by the teaspoon.

  • Slippery Elm lozenges

  • Chewable zinc Lozenges with Vitamin C

Earaches:

  • You can make your own Garlic Oil by putting a few cloves of garlic into olive oil and infuse for at least a week.  Remove the cloves, and warm a teaspoonful when needed and pour into the ear.

  • You can buy a pre-made Garlic Ear OIl at most health food stores.

  • I like to add powdered probiotic like Klaire Labs Powder Probiotic into either of the above before using.

In terms of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), antibiotics have a very cold property, which makes them effective in clearing heat and reducing inflammation (thus killing bacteria).  But that same cold property weakens the digestive function and can ultimately reduce immunity.

When herbs are used to treat infection, however, the pathogen is not only destroyed and inflammation reduced, but the herbs can also simultaneously resolve phlegm as well as support the digestive function, and preserve the body’s defensive qi (immunity) to prevent recurrence.

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