Sometimes no matter how hard we try to rest and eat right, colds and flu get the best of us. You might feel fatigued or run-down a few days before symptoms manifest, so if you start listening to your body you may be able to reduce your symptoms by resting early on.
In Chinese medicine we consider colds and flu to be an invasion by an external pathogen and give those pathogens names such as Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat, Wind-dry, etc. Your acupuncturist will often be able to feel an external invasion in its early stages and can recommend just the right formula for you in tandem with acupuncture. In fact, the very first acupuncture point prescriptions we learn in school are those for colds and flu.
In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, here are a few things you can do at home to make yourself or your family members more comfortable while your cold runs its course.
The best treatment is rest, bar none.
Grab it whenever you can. Forgo that late night TV show and go to bed early. Your body will be able to fight off your cold more efficiently if you give it some downtime.
If you have a sore throat, feel thirsty for cold drinks, and/or feel feverish you likely have a Wind-Heat invasion. Pick up some fresh mint at the grocery store and steep a handful of the chopped, crushed leaves in hot water to soothe your sore throat and help keep you hydrated.
If your throat is scratchy (not red and painful), you have chills more than fever, and/or have a headache or body aches make some ginger tea with scallion roots. Cut the white roots off an entire bunch of scallions and throw it in a pot with about an inch of chopped ginger. Add three to four cups of water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Drink this warm tea throughout the day, bundle up, and allow your body to sweat. If you do sweat, change your clothing.
- Go to sleep early and on a regular schedule.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Eat a variety of fresh seasonal foods. Avoid cold foods like ice cream and iced drinks when the weatherʼs cold. Avoid sugar as much as possible (more on how to do that in a future blog).
- Come see us at Blue Sky Acupuncture Studio for nutritional counseling — we can help you figure out how to eat to maximize your immune system.
- Keep the back of your neck covered when you go outside. In Chinese medicine, this is the place where pathogens can easily enter the body and wreak havoc. Also, after bathing or swimming, dry yourself quickly and keep covered with a towel or robe, especially on the back of your neck.