14Jan

6 Tips Of Prevention During Winter

Stay Well During The Winter

6 Tips Of Prevention During Winter

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Prevention Tips For A Healthy Start To Winter!

If you want to know how to treat and diagnose seasonal cold and flu symptoms then Chinese medicine has a colorful and effective history.  Once again, we are in the winter months and many patients are coming in with concerns about colds and flus.  One of the key ideas I must keep in mind is how to educate my patients on how not to get sick.

Teaching prevention is not always popular in any system of medicine and less so when patients have habits whether acquired, cultural or emotional that impede preventative methods. Nevertheless, prevention plays a foundational role.  I usually assume that my patients are aware of basic protocols for hygiene that can prevent the transmission of viruses.  But, there is more to just hygiene that patients need to have to strengthen their resistance against contracting colds and flu.

Here are six tips that are very effective:

1. Take An Herbal Formula

One of many formulas that is effective for a cold and flu presentation and a very basic formula to cultivate resistance to these viruses is "Yu Ping Feng San". This elegant and simple formula is an important foundational formula which is added to other herbs as appropriate for patients' unique constitutions. 

For example, two of my favorite medicinals to add to a "Yu Ping Feng San" formula are cordyceps and reishi mushroom.  Both medicinals can address supporting the body's resistance to cold and flu viruses that develop into more serious respiratory conditions.  This modification should ideally be taken prior to the cold and flu season and not for acute colds and flu unless, the patient suffers from a considerably compromised immune system.

2. Assess Vitamin D3 Levels

This is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the West. Vitamin D3 plays a crucial role in the function of the immune system in both acute and chronic health challenges.  The new recommended dose for adults is 1,000 IU daily and 400 IU daily for infants and children.  Vitamin D3 is fat soluble and therefore should be taken with meals for proper absorption (preferably high in fat meals). This, taken along with the aforementioned Yu Ping Feng San variation can provide a solid foundation for the prevention of cold and flu viruses.

3. Keep Your Sinuses Irrigated

Another simple therapy to teach patients is the use of the neti pot.  This is commonly used in other systems of medicine and has recently experienced a resurgence of popularity in the prevention of seasonal allergies in the West.  The use of the neti pot to help irrigate the sinus cavity can play a crucial role in preventing seasonal colds, which can develop into deeper problems if left unattended

4. Get Enough Sleep!

The winter months in nature are typically a time of dormancy for plants and animals.  Why would us humans be any different?  Follow the laws of nature as best as you can despite the holiday parties, and other activities of the season.  Keep in mind always that the winter months are a time to rest to prepare for a healthy rebirthing energy that occurs in Spring. Simple sleep practices of going to bed earlier than usual as we obey the shorter days with less light and getting an extra hour in the winter is paramount to keeping the body healthy.

Sleep deprivation is another widespread issue in the West and plays a pivotal role in the healthy function of the immune system.  Regardless of how many acupuncture treatments or herbal formulas a patient may utilize, if they aren't getting adequate sleep, the immune system will not properly function. Remember, deep, restful and restorative sleep is as powerful as herbs and acupuncture.  

5. Don't Overdue The Exercise

You have been so great about your new exercise routine, rarely missing a day since you started and then all of a sudden you are waylaid by a cold or flu.   Most of my patients would agonize about skipping the treadmill or forsaking the Pilates class for a late afternoon nap because they fear it will be hard to get started again if they skip a day or three.  Experts say, exercising with a cold may be ok, but if you've got a fever, hitting the gym is a definite no- no. The danger lies in raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker.  In Chinese medicine, fever, weakness and an inflammatory response are signs of a serious imbalance.  The rule of thumb is "Do what you can do, and if you can't do it, then don't" - because you don;t want to weaken your Qi any further and cause further setback to your health and ultimately, your exercise routine.  Know your limits.  If you are feeling kind of bad, you may want to consider a light walk instead of a run.  Take down the intensity or do a more regenerative activity like Yoga, or Tai Chi.

6. Accept Yourself More

Emotional health is a big part of our wellness.  If the mind and spirit is not ok, there is no chance in hell that our body will stay healthy either.  Point blank!! No matter what is happening in our external live, it's important to cultivate a sense of being "ok" and self acceptance. Classical Five Element Acupuncture is a system of medicine that treats all levels of the body, mind and spirit. Treat your spirit to meditation, admit your flaws, laugh at your quirks and know that you will screw up at times.  Lighten up on the "shoulds" and take the time to be quiet to settle the mind and breathe. The stillness of winter is the perfect time to begin this routine in your daily life.  In this sweet spot is where the age old quest for enlightenment comes in; the element we seek out in everything we pursue: aliveness, fun, joy, depth, love and rest.