Cold and Flu is a hot topic in the acupuncture office this time of year. Western medicine attributes cold and flu symptoms to viral infection, while practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine take a holistic view. Instead of blaming cold and flu symptoms solely on rhinovirus and influenza, Traditional Chinese Medicine considers unfriendly environmental influences the first in a series of factors responsible for the dreaded aches, sniffles, coughs and sneezes characteristic of cold and flu.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine helps prevent cold and flu by balancing the body, resulting in a stronger immune system or wei qi. Wei qi can be thought of as our protective outer wrapper; when we are robust and healthy, it is consolidated, flexible and able to keep external pathogens from penetrating our system. Various seasonal stressors can stretch wei qi inappropriately thin, allowing pathogens entry into the body.
In addition to professional acupuncture treatment, there are many herbal allies in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Materia Medica that have strong but safe action against cold and flu. Easy early-onset preventative: cook one ounce of fresh sliced ginger and two or three scallion bulbs in water for 5 minutes – drink the liquid until you feel a slight sweat at the nape of the neck. About 2 cups total should be sufficient. If the onset is very recent, often this will coax the illness out.
Beyond recovery, regular visits to your practitioner of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine will help prevent new infection. Both acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine will strengthen the immune system and wei qi so that subsequent seasons should be less eventful.