To Keep From Getting A Cold:
- Neti pot. Nasal rinsing daily. Germs can’t make you sick if you’re rinsing them out daily.
- Support beneficial gut flora with probiotics. Eighty percent of immune system is located in the gut. Fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurt, miso can all be supportive.
- Dress warmly to conserve your yang qi and your protective immune qi.
- Keep the back of your neck covered. This spot is vulnerable to invasions of pathogenic wind, which can make you sick.
- Avoid stress; it depletes the immune system.
- Get adequate rest so you have enough qi to fight off invading pathogens.
- If you are prone to respiratory illnesses, take immune-boosting Chinese herbs. Consult with your acupuncturist about the most appropriate formula for you.
Fending off a cold:
- Drink lots of water (room temperature or warm).
- Gargle with turmeric and salt in warm water at the first sign of a sore throat
- Drink ginger/peppermint tea. These acrid herbs can “release the exterior” of the body and help drive out invading winds. Peppermint is cooling and is better for sore throats and fevers, ginger is warming and is better when chills dominate.
- Eat only when you’re hungry.
- Avoid dairy products, citrus juices, raw, greasy, sugary, or complicated foods. These foods contribute to the production on phlegm.
- Take professionally prescribed Chinese herbal medicine to preserve your immunity or to help your body recover from illness. Gan Mao Ling is a good choice if you don’t know what kind of a cold/ flu you have, and especially good for colds that start with a sore throat. This formula contains herbs that have antiviral and antibiotic properties. Take 6 pills every 3-4 hours. (Do not take Gan Mao Ling in cases of shivering.) If the illness lasts longer than a week or goes deeper into the body (a bad cough, for example), you will need a different remedy. Please consult your acupuncturist.
- Take a hot bath. Add 2 tablespoons of dried ginger to make it even hotter. Then wrap up in blankets and allow your body to sweat. By opening the pores, you create a pathway for the pathogen to leave the body. Be sure to stay hydrated.
- Get acupuncture to prevent the pathogen from going deeper into the body and to help your body recover.
Broth to fend off a cold:
- Bring 2 cups vegetable stock or water to a boil.
- Add: fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), grated
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in 1 tsp. powdered kuzu root (ge gen). This will thicken it the mixture.
- (optional: add a small bit of umeboshi plum.)
- Optional: add a bit of soy sauce to make like a broth or brown sugar to make like a tea.
Drink several times a day if you feel a cold coming on.
As many of you know, good digestion is central in the production of energy in the body. No matter how nutritious a particular food is, it will not nourish you if you cannot digest it. If you suffer from symptoms of poor digestion: abdominal pain, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal fullness, tiredness, low immunity,nasal congestion, lethargy, etc., paying attention to diet is vitally important in restoring health. According to both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India), a diet consisting mainly of warm, cooked, freshly prepared food is the way to restoring healthy digestive system and maintaining overall health. Specifically, kitchari is an especially digestible food, simple food that I often recommend to patients with poor digestion or at the change of the seasons. Download my kitchari recipe here.
Just as important as what to eat is what not to eat. It probably goes without saying that limiting your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pesticides, anything artificial, hormone-laden animal products, and trans fats. As for further do’s and don’ts, I agree heartily with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, who distills his thorough investigation of diet into seven words: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” The word “food” here is used in contrast to complicated, processed food-like products. Elaborating on what food is, he offers a second rule of thumb: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Chinese Medicine is based on living in harmony with nature. Putting only things that nature intended into our bodies seems like sound advice.
Read more health tips in Brodie’s blog.
Use your body to relax your mind.
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