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It’s here, the time of year when kids run home from school sniffling and everyone in your office is reaching for the tissue box. In eastern medicine we believe that catching a cold is a sign that your body’s qi is weakened. If steps are taken to keep your qi vital,  you will not get sick even if you are exposed to bacteria and viruses. Below are 5 practical ways to protect yourself and your family from many of the pathogens in the environment.

1). Honor the seasons. As winter time approaches and the clocks change, our body has to recalibrate itself to adjust to the variations in climate, day light, and qualities of the environment. The body doesn’t like big changes so easing into the seasons is important. Start wearing warmer clothes and especially cover your neck when going outside- eastern medicine believes that pathogens enter through the back of the neck.

Winter time is associated with the kidneys so it’s a time to restore our kidney energy. Resting is one important way to restore the kidneys and restore the circadian rhythms so that all your hormones come into balance.

2). Warm up your diet. Eating soup with scallions is one way to promote sweating and by sweating we are able to vent pathogens. Fermented soybean and scallions soup is a classical herbal formula for the first signs of a cold. Start to think of your diet as herbal medicine by adding warming spices such as ginger, garlic, and onions. Rather than eating cold salads and smoothies start steaming your vegetables and eating cooked foods. Consider adding kidney tonifying ingredients such as kidney beans, black sesame seeds, and forbidden rice. Anything black or kidney shaped nourishes the kidneys.

3). Take evening baths and allow your body to sweat. This is incredibly detoxifying especially if you add bath salts.  Salt tonifies the kidneys as can certain essential oils. Baths also help promote healthy sleep cycles by increasing your core temperature. Once you get out into a cooler environment it will cause your core body temperature to drop significantly and the body is able to get into its deepest sleep when it’s at its lowest temperature. So unless you’re sick and want to promote sweating, don’t pile on layers, instead allow your body to cool before heading into bed. Then in the morning do the opposite- warm up with exercise right away.

4). Vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D are three nutrition supplements you want to keep stocked this winter. Consult a professional if you are unsure of what dosage you should be taking to maximize your levels. Lab testing may be important in evaluating how your body is absorbing the nutrients and what dosage allows you to maintain optimal levels. Always buy the best quality supplements – if you’re unsure, ask someone your trust.

5). Consider taking herbs. Yu Ping Feng San is a classical formula that is often referred to as the herbal flu shot in Eastern medicine. It’s especially helpful postpartum when mama is depleted and more prone to catching colds and flus. Also, check with a trusted practitioner of eastern medicine to be sure you are buying top quality herbs that have been tested for heavy metals and harmful contaminants.

Written by Maria Villella – To book your next acupuncture appointment, call (424) 744-8366.