“What are your favorite methods for quelling early cold symptoms?”
A timely September 2017 edition of Pose a ‘Punk a question as we have definitely been seeing the back-to-school wave of viral infections making their way into the clinic.
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I cannot stress enough of the restorative, healing properties of a good night’s sleep, esp due to the fact the most people’s lack of enough good quality sleep makes you susceptible to the cold/flu virus in the first place. And YES, (acu)naps count too! So until the day they develop sleep in a capsule, you have to get it the good ol’ fashioned way, by going to sleep on time.
- Keeping warm & dry.
My mom used to get on my case about going out in cold weather with wet hair for good reason. In Chinese Medicine, they believe that pathogens (ie. viruses) will attack your body from your head, neck and upper back, which is why most early cold/flu symptoms manifest in the face, throat and the upper back.Warm, dry feet are also key. The same channels that run into the head, neck and face, also begin and end in the feet. By keeping your feet warm and clothed, you prevent cold and damp from entering your channels and wreaking havoc on qi-blood circulation and disrupting your body’s ability to fend off pathogenic invasion. With the gradually dropping temperatures, time to put the flip flops away till the spring.
- Vitamin D.
With the onset of a scratchy throat and runny nose, my go to is liquid sunshine. The common recommended dose is 1000 IU daily, in which, from personal experience I will take at least 3000-5000 IU when I’m feeling under the weather.For more info about why D and not C, read more, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/health-vitamin-d-supplements-cold-virus-influenza-flu-respiratory-infections-bones-muscle-a7582791.html
- Chicken soup!
Centuries old remedies of Chinese and Jewish grandmas alike, it is a highly digestible, nutrient dense and piping hot vehicle of immune boost. Not to mention, a delicious way to have you hunker down at home for an afternoon, relaxing and babysitting a pot of soup.I like putting lots of root veggies, kale, short grain brown rice and tons of garlic in mine…mmmm….
Early cold symptoms indicate that one’s defensive qi (wei qi) immune protection within the skin and superficial meridians has been invaded by either heat or cold carried by wind pathogens, for example a virus carried by a draft. This differential terminology derives from TCM’s foundational principles of observing nature and our relationship in it. Treatment varies according to the meridians affected and presentation of symptoms and pattern.
Quell early cold symptoms by getting daily acupuncture as soon as you start to feel symptoms. Receiving your first treatment within the first few hours of onset is ideal. The longer you wait to treat the more it sets in and the more difficult it becomes to expel the pathogen.
7 Self-Care Tips for Early Cold Symptoms
- Dress warm and stay warm. Cold reduces qi circulation and the elimination of the pathogen.
- Wei qi is produced via food and fluid intake. Drink warm fluids and eat small, simple portions of warm foods, for example home-made soup with bone broth, chicken, shiitake, ginger, scallion, squash, and daikon radish. Avoid the following mucus-forming foods: dairy, sugar, fried/greasy foods, banana, and orange.
- Slow down, rest, minimize stress, and sleep. Light activity such as qi gong, tai chi, and walking support qi and immune system regulation.
- Breathe through your nose as this acts as a filter and supports your lung and spleen qi.
- Take home moxa, gua sha, and acupressure can help expel the cold.
- Wash regularly and avoid touching your T-zone (area including your forehead, nose and chin) to minimize spreading the pathogen.
- Supplement with zinc and if the cold progresses consider herbal therapy to remedy either wind heat or cold.
The best way to quell the common cold, is to act before you have any symptoms at all. As you have probably heard all of us preach- prevention is key! Boosting immunity while you are still healthy and feeling good is your best defense. How can you do that? Here are some of the ways I do:
Wearing layers and packing scarves. I make sure to keep my neck and shoulders covered, especially if it is windy out. Your body is naturally warm, so when it is cold out, everything is working even harder to maintain that healthy warm temperature, help out by covering up!
Eating nourishing foods that are warm. As the weather and seasons change, as should your diet. Coming into fall and winter your body will better digest and absorb warm, cooked foods.
Bone broth! I am sure you have heard the bone broth craze that has risen recently, and for good reason. Bones are mineral and nutrient dense and offer a lot of benefits. I use my slow cooker to simmer bones for a minimum of 24 hours and I will add tonic herbs in the mix as well for added benefit. Some of my favorite are astragalus, goji berries, cardamom, ginger and garlic.
Get enough sleep! As the amount of daylight shortens, so should your waking hours. Sleep is your bodies time to recoup and repair. Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as limiting screen time before bed, keeping your cell phone out of your bed room, avoiding sugar and caffeine in the afternoon are a few simple ways to improve sleep quality.
Get acupuncture! Regular acupuncture treatments will help your body stay healthy. If you start to feel symptoms of cold coming on, get in for a treatment as soon as possible. Just because you start to feel sick doesn’t mean you need to actually get sick. Acupuncture can help flush out an illness before it penetrates deeper into your body.
There are a few things that can help early cold symptoms from turning into a full on cold.
The first is to rest- no big exercise, clear some things off of your schedule if possible, take it easy, and get enough sleep.
Bee propolis is great for sore throats- either use the spray, or gargle with a few drops of the tincture in water, swallowing it after gargling.
Sweat it out. Brew up some chamomile or mint tea, add, ginger, cayenne, lemon and honey. Drink this in a hot bath. Get out of the bath when the water is still hot, get in your warmest pjs and get under all your covers and stay there and sweat. Maybe take a nap.
Drink and eat enough, limit sugar, and get acupuncture!