By Hayley Stobbs R.Ac, CNC
As temperature and sunlight exposure decline in Canada the immune system can struggle with fighting off viruses and bacteria. Not surprisingly environmental viruses aren’t solely responsible for the etiology and pathogenesis of colds and flus. Digestive health and diet, lifestyle, and mental-emotional wellbeing all play part in our ability to strengthen our immune defences preventatively and proactively.
Approximately 75% of our immune system is located in our gut, along with our enteric nervous system. By supporting digestive health all year round our internal environment can readily utilize nutrients and antioxidants in food to ward off pathogenic invasion and to stabilize mood.
Early cold symptoms indicate that one’s defensive qi (wei qi) has been invaded by either heat or cold carried by wind pathogens, for example a virus carried by a draft. The lungs govern wei qi which guards our outermost boundary; it is relative to immune protection and resides within the skin and superficial meridians.
Expel a cold before it progresses 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.
Even if you don’t have a cold seasonal acupuncture check-ins or ‘tune-ups’ with your health care practitioner serve to prevent illness and to maintain health. Inquire about supplement support (probiotics, vitamin D, zinc, fish oil, oscillococcinum), acupuncture, and exercise and lifestyle suggestions that may be beneficial to your constitution.
Along with acupuncture here are some cold quelling tips to follow:
1. Dress warm and stay warm. Cold reduces qi circulation and the elimination of the pathogen.
2. Wei qi is produced via food and fluid intake. Drink soothing ginger tea (see recipe below), 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: processed foods, dairy, sugar, fried/greasy foods, banana, and orange.
3. Slow down, rest, minimize stress, and sleep. Light activity such as qi gong, tai chi, and walking support qi and immune system regulation.
4. Breathe through your nose as this acts as a filter and supports your lung and spleen qi.
5. Take home moxa, gua sha, and acupressure can help expel the cold.
6. Wash regularly and avoid touching your T-zone (area including your forehead, nose and chin) to minimize spreading the pathogen.
7. Supplement with vitamin D, zinc (take with food), and book in for a herbal consultation.
Plan to carve out a few minutes throughout the week to prepare the following recipe — your health will thank you. If you’re sharing make sure to double the recipe and if you have the flu add extra electrolytes with sea salt, extra honey, and coconut water. Enjoy a cup upon rising in the morning and in between meals.
Benefits of ginger and lemon:
Ginger‘s pungent and warm properties enters the lung, spleen, stomach, intestines, heart, and urinary bladder meridians.
This culinary herb disperses wind-cold, promotes qi circulation, and helps to resolve phlegm. Ginger warms the middle energizer to stop vomiting, nausea, and indigestion, and warms the lung to stop cough.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger which contributes to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These effects can benefit a variety of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, to acute gum infections, to painful episodes of exercise-induced muscle fatigue and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).
Ginger is blood sugar regulating, boosts circulation, and may improve cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
Dried ginger is more heating than fresh.
Use caution when using ginger if you tend to feel warm or hot frequently, or if you are prone to ulcers. Seek advice from your herbalist or Chinese medicine doctor to learn more.
Lemon. The sour properties of lemon enters the lung, spleen, kidney, liver, and gallbladder meridians. Lemon regulates blood circulation, qi circulation, heat, toxins, and phlegm. *Lemon and lime are cooling, though lime is considered to be more cooling and suitable for those with histamine intolerance.
Lemon is cleansing. It promotes the secretion of saliva, relieves thrist, harmonize the stomach and may prevent miscarriage. Lemon helps with poor appetite, stomach heat, sunstroke (limes are better for this), vomiting during pregnancy, cough, and abdominal distension.
Lemon zest promotes the flow of qi, helps to break up phlegm, and helps abdominal distention and pain. It’s pungent and bitter flavour is warming and it enters the stomach and lung.
Brew Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 cups
6 cups water
2 inches fresh ginger, peel intact, fine grated
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, optional
Juice of 2 – 3 lemons (1/4 cup), fresh squeezed juice
3 tablespoons raw honey
1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Meanwhile, fine grate the fresh ginger and lemon zest.
2. Add the ginger and lemon zest to the water, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
3. Turn off heat and allow the liquid to slightly cool. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and let the tea steep, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Strain or ladle into mugs and store refrigerated in a glass mason jar for up to a week.
I hope my post has given you insight today. If you’re interested in acupuncture I’d be happy to guide you along. Please visit www.vcaspa.com to book online or call 250-590-4341. To learn more about my acupuncture practice, follow @hayley_stobbs on Instagram.
Wishing you warmth & vitality,
Hayley Stobbs R.Ac, CNC