Do you get sick often? When you get sick do you end up on antibiotics for a sinus infection or on asthma medications for a nasty cough? Are your kids running around all winter with runny noses or a cough? Maybe you’re like me and you just hate to suffer with even the tiniest cold or cough? Well you might be surprised to learn that there is a lot that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can do to reduce the length and severity of colds, coughs and flu and prevent complications.
Although your body is ultimately curing your cold or flu with its arsenal of antibodies that it produces to defend itself against foreign bacteria and viruses, it’s usually inevitable that stress, lack of sleep, overwork or poor diet will compromise your immune system so that even the best of us end up with a cold or flu. Acupuncture can help your body get the upper hand on these bacteria and viruses by boosting your immune system, clearing your sinuses, getting rid of nasal and chest congestion, relieving pain such a body aches, sore throats and headaches and stopping coughing. Also many Chinese herbs that we use have antibacterial, antiviral, antihistamine and immune boosting effects, which prevent and treat infection, reduce fever and resolve sinus congestion and coughs. In fact, one area that Chinese herbal medicine really shines is in its treatment of respiratory illnesses such congestion, coughing and wheezing. We have many patients that no longer need asthma medications during and after their colds because they are using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
In addition to using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, here are a few things that you can do at home to help yourself when you are sick:
1. Drink ginger and scallion tea
Ginger and scallion tea can help knock out a cold in the very early stages. If you’re feeling chilled and sneezing a lot, make yourself a cup of this simple elixir and bundle up in lots of warm clothing until you break a sweat.
2. Eat lightly and avoid sugar and dairy
If you have nasal or chest congestion eating sugar and dairy IS going to make the congestion worse. If you are overweight or have a slow metabolism then you may even want to fast for a day or so. If you have a fast metabolism or don’t have too much congestion, then simply eating homemade chicken broth with rice porridge would be a good light and nourishing meal that won’t overload your digestive system and lead to more congestion. Also remember that a huge part of your metabolism is in your gut. When you eat sugar you fuel the bad gut bacteria and this is not going to help you get better. Eliminating sugar, along with a healthy diet allows the beneficial gut bacteria to thrive and work to help get you better more quickly.
3. Clear your sinuses with a neti pot & gargle
If you tend toward sinus infections or just have a lot of nasal and sinus congestion you could benefit from using a neti pot to help rinse the congestion away. You can buy a neti pot at your local pharmacy or online. Be sure to follow all cleaning and sanitary instructions that come with your neti pot. Alternatively, if you have a sore throat, gargle regularly with salt water.
There is absolutely no substitute for rest when it comes to fighting off colds, coughs and flu. You can take all the herbs and supplements in the world but if you don’t take time out to rest you are going to compromise your recovery. So stay home from work or school, get off the computer and smart phone and take some extra time to rest. When you rest, your body does its best healing.
5. Supplement with vitamins D, vitamin C and zinc
In addition to rest, proper diet, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, other supplements that can be helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting off colds include zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C. We carry a great liquid zinc that actually tastes great and several different forms of vitamin D, including cod liver oil which is a natural source of vitamin D. As always, a lot of research goes into the herbs and supplements that we carry so that you can be confident that you are getting only the highest quality products.
6. Get acupuncture
All ages benefit from treating their colds, coughs and flu symptoms with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. You’ll suffer less and the illness will not last as long if you follow the suggestions above and get treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. We’ve helped children and adults like you get off the hamster wheel of antibiotics and steroids by treating their colds, coughs and flu. If you can come in for treatment at the very early stages of a cold, we may even be able to prevent it altogether. And if you find that you are getting sick a lot, then acupuncture combined with an herbal formula can help boost your immune system in between each cold so that they become less frequent.