After the Thanksgiving holiday, the days suddenly seem shorter than ever. The temps plummet to below freezing and autumn has quietly and quickly slipped away. We avoid the outdoors at all costs, hole up in our homes and turn in early for the night as the sun inspires us to do so. Since we can’t avoid going outside entirely, the dramatic temperature change from going from the warmth of inside to the blistery wind of outside, often results in lower immunity and those dreaded winter viruses. Here’s 4 tips to keeping your immunity strong and solid this winter from the wisdom of our acupuncturist, Anna Mehlhop Strong LAc.
1) Hats and Scarves Galore!
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine believe that in order to prevent injury to the body from wind and cold, you need to protect the most vulnerable areas of the body with warm clothes. These are the back of the neck, upper back, and shoulder areas which correspond to the Tai Yang Channels. The elements will always try to enter here first, causing symptoms of Wind-Cold: fever, chills, body aches, and stuffy or runny nose. The theories surrounding this date back to the late Han Dynasty- that is 1800 years ago!
2) Stay Dry!
Protecting the upper back and shoulder areas becomes especially true if you have wet hair or have just sweated a lot. When coming out into the cold from the gym, always wear a scarf or hood to protect the back of the neck. Kids coming from swimming lessons in the winter should always have their hair dried before going outside. It is the wisdom of many cultures that being in the cold when you are wet can make you get sick. This cannot be discredited by germ theory. From a western perspective, having to shiver to warm up a freezing body can detract from the immune system allowing germs to take a stronger hold.
3) Eat Soup!
Miso soup with scallion is great to eat at the very first stages of a cold. The miso with the scallion work together to promote a slight sweat to push out the cold. No medicine needed! If you find that you have been battling a cold for a long time, try making chicken soup the old fashioned way. Boil the bones of a chicken, including the neck, to make a broth. The bones release the nutrients of their marrow into the broth which will nourish your body’s immune cells.
4) Consult with a Chinese Herbalist
Chinese medicine has an intricate and highly developed system–again, going back 1800+ years–of treating the common cold in all its variations. When exposed to the same ‘bug’, why does one person get a sore throat and the other a cough? Also, children will tend to spike fevers much higher than adults because they by their nature have more firey constitutions. These differences have to do with the differing terrain of each individual body. So, the same herbal formula would definitely NOT be appropriate to all cases of the same cold. It is best to consult a Chinese herbalist to find the right formula for you. To work most effectively, herbal medicine should focus not on eliminating the bug, but instead on reviving the disturbed function of the body. Then the body will eliminate the bug all by itself! And you will avoid costly side-effects and contributing to antibiotic resistance.
That’s it folks, we’re wishing you a healthy winter and a happy holiday season!