Jessica Tatieze, Licensed Acupuncturist at 2bwell Clinic
It is hard to accept that summer is ending, but with kids are going back to school, it means fall is just around the corner. While many of us do look forward to the crisp air, delicious warm drinks, and the changing of the leaves, it is also the time of year when many find themselves curled up in bed with cold or flu symptoms. Many patients and friends say they dread the fall because they always get sick around the same time every year. They are often surprised to learn that acupuncture and herbal medicine can help prevent these ailments.
What is it about this time of year that makes these viruses so prevalent? In Chinese Medicine, many cold and flu symptoms are related to environmental factors such as wind and cold. Research in Western medicine has also showed that the cold temperatures may play a role in the spread of these illnesses. As the cooler weather forces us to stay indoors more, viruses are given the chance to easily transfer from person to person.
While Chinese Medicine can't keep you from being exposed to viruses, what it can do is help strengthen your body and immune system in order to effectively defend you from respiratory virus infections. By treating each person's individual constitutional imbalances, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine strives to put the person in their healthiest state. This alone puts the person's body in a good position to fight off viruses they encounter. Beyond that, there are also specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas that can benefit those who are prone to certain symptoms or illnesses
With preventative acupuncture and herbal treatments, some patients make it through the cold and flu season without catching any viruses, while others notice they get sick less often, are able to recover from the illnesses more quickly, or have less severe symptoms. These results can be very significant to patients, translating into less missed work and more holiday fun! One patient, who was prone to frequent colds in the past, wrote this after using acupuncture to help her endure last year's cold and flu season sickness free:
"I could tell that I was on the verge of getting a cold over the weekend, but my body actually fought it off before it took hold. That was awesome and never happens. My body usually fights and loses. I can tell my immune system is stronger. Hooray and THANK YOU!"
Other ways you can keep your body strong and prevent illness this fall are: wash your hands frequently, get plenty of sleep and exercise, keep stress levels low, and eat healthy foods (including plenty of vegetables). As with anything, it's always important to listen to your own body. If you start to feel symptoms coming on or feel run down, take the time to relax and get plenty of rest before it turns into a full out illness. From a Chinese Medicine prospective, it is also important to protect yourself from the wind and cold with hats, scarves, and warm clothing, and by limiting time spent directly in these elements.
So while the cooler weather is inevitable, and fall will come whether we are ready for it or not, we can start preparing now to make it the happiest and healthiest season yet!