by Shanna Grimes, Acupuncture Denver Staff
With the crisp winter air comes the inevitable host of viruses and pathogens known to cause colds, flu and other illnesses. Stress, excessive working, poor nutrition, and a lack of sleep can make our bodies especially vulnerable to these bugs. In addition to staying well-rested and practicing good hand washing, below are some simple things you can do using the time-honored wisdom of Chinese Medicine to strengthen your body's natural defenses and shorten the duration of common winter illnesses:
Eat a diet rich in root vegetables. Root vegetables are known in Chinese Dietary Theory to strengthen lungs and increase immunity. Try incorporating beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnips into your diet on a regular basis. Other therapeutic foods include cruciferous and leafy vegetables, Asian mushrooms, berries, brightly colored peppers, onions, garlic and goji berries.
Decrease sugar and alcohol intake. Several studies have been done to show that both of these substances impair immune function.
Cover your neck. Chinese Medicine states that illnesses (or the "evil qi") invade the body through the back of the neck. Get in the habit of wearing a scarf to protect this vulnerable area of the body against drafts and chilly weather.
Get seasonal acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is well known to regulate immune function by increasing natural killer cells and regulating white blood cells, helper cells and suppressor T cells.
Take immune-boosting herbs. There are several beneficial Chinese immune formulas known to strengthen immunity, prevent colds and flu, or reduce the severity and duration of illnesses. Ask us if you are interested in purchasing a formula customized just for you.
Take probiotics regularily. 75% of immune function takes place within the digestive system, making beneficial bacteria one of the body's strongest lines of defense. Acupuncture Denver carries a high-quality refrigerated probiotic from Pharmax called HLC intensive, which sells for $30 for a 30-day supply.
Rest, stay home and take good care of yourself when you are sick. At the onset of a cold or the flu, try taking a hot bath infused with fresh ginger to stimulate your immune system. Eat warming and nutritious foods, and drink plenty of warm, non-caffeinated teas and other clear liquids to stay hydrated.
We recommend an Immune Boosting Cocktail of Probiotics (HLC intensive), Muco Coccinum (Unda's Cold/Flu homeopathic product), and Vitamin D. We keep this combo in stock and have seen great results with it!
We wish you a healthy and restorative fall and winter!