Tips for Avoiding Cold and Flu Season
It’s barely September and I’ve already had a handful of patients come in with sore throats and runny noses. It’s officially that time of year, so don’t wait until after you’ve caught the bugs to begin boosting your immune system, but increase immunity before and during cold and flu season to give your body the strength it needs to fight of pathogens.
Ditch the sugar. Studies show that sugar has a suppressing effect on the body for a few hours after you eat it. And if you consume sugary substances multiple times a day, you could be suppressing your immune system for the majority of the day. It also increases the amount of inflammation in your body contributing to aging and other diseases. I haven’t gotten a single cold or sore throat since quitting sugar over two years ago.
Get enough sleep. Sleep really does help everything in your body work better. Research is showing that even your immune system functions on a circadian rhythm that is heavily influenced by sleep. Sleep has a significant impact on immunological memory, helping your body fight inflammation and pathogens. I like to see my patients get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Anything less than that has been shown to have negative physiological consequences.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Our Acubalance secret weapon is a stash of immune boost, sore throat relieving, cough suppressing, runny nose stopping Chinese herbs we keep on hand in our staff kitchen at all times. We have a particular formula the staff here at Acubalance takes for prevention and treatment of cold symptoms. Chinese herbal formulas can be incredibly effective for boosting the immune system and giving your body the energy it needs to fight off pathogens. Acupuncture has also been shown to benefit the immune system, especially with it’s inflammation reducing effects.
Gua Sha. Gua Sha is one of my favorite traditional Chinese medicine techniques besides acupuncture. With gua sha, a dull edged object is gently scraped against well oiled skin (typically the neck and back) to help the body decrease inflammation through anti-inflammatory cytokine excretion, nitric oxide upregulation, and oxidative stress reduction. It’s very similar to cupping in that it leaves marks on the skin and fades within 3-5 days. I love this technique because it’s so simple and feels so good on tight muscles!
Stress reduction: Studies show that mindfulness meditation can produce positive effects on the brain and immune function. High levels of chronic stress impacts cortisol (the stress hormone) levels which can impair immune system functioning. Incorporating stress relieivng practices (whether it’s meditation, breathing techniques, painting, playing an instrument, or spending times with friends) can be a huge boost to the immune system.
Give Acubalance a call at 604-678-8600 to book your initial consultation or a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to ask any questions you may have about our treatment protocol for immune support.
Allison Locke, R.TCM.P, FABORM, CLT