Here in Asheville it’s cold and flu season. During Autumn, we are returning to school, work, and gearing up for the holiday season. According to the laws of nature, it is a time to reduce activity and turn inward to bolster our bodies protective systems from cold, damp days. While acupuncture and massage are great at cold/flu prevention and support of overall health and wellness, I’m going to share with you three great methods to support your body and create a strong immune system to resist the dreaded cold and flu at home.
- Grandma was right: Wear a scarf and hat to keep the head and neck warm. Keep the cold and damp out and the warmth in when outdoors. On the back of the neck there is an acupuncture point called Dazhui or, “Great Vertebra.” This is the point that is most vulnerable to wind and cold causing sore throat, sinus congestion, and chills/fever. I always keep a scarf and hat in the car and never leave home without them.
- Salt Water Heals: The common cold and flu affect the respiratory system beginning in the nose and throat. At the first sign of a sore throat or sinus infection, try nasopharyngeal rinsing twice a day with a solution of 1/4 c. water, a pinch of sea salt, and 3-5 drops of tea tree and/or lavender essential oil. With a clean dropper or neti pot, cleanse each nostril while the head is tilted back. The solution should run through the nasal cavity and go out the mouth. This cleanses the mucous membranes of pollutants and enhances overall immunity. I perform this feat in the shower to expel the solution with easy cleanup. After being in an enclosed space with others is a good time to rinse, ie. planes, family gatherings, trains. Keep in mind, it’s important to use distilled water to cleanse the nasal passage as warned in this recent NY Times article.
- A Gentle Approach: Learning to pace yourself is very important for immune health. Reduce rigorous outdoor exercise and replace with more relaxing type exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. These meditative exercises have been scientifically proven to boost immunity while providing gentle movement to increase flexibility, improve blood flow, and calm the mind.
In addition to these easy tips, remember to eat a nutritious, organic diet, keep a positive attitude, and visit your favorite acupuncturist to stay healthy throughout the year. In the next episode, I’ll share some tips to care for your back.