Yes, the crisp air is here. Maybe like me, you’ve felt it the past few mornings as you saw your breath in front of you on a chilly walk to your car. Maybe also like me, you are OK with the colder weather as it means no more hurricanes (at least not this year – I hope you are all doing OK and fared well through the recent storms).
As welcome as this autumn chill may be, it also means that peak cold and flu season is upon us. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that peak flu season is usually between late November and early March. Each year, we all battle it – the kids fight it off at school, you steer clear of handles and germy phones at work…but, nonetheless, between 5% and 20% of Americans will get the flu this year and more than 200,000 will be hospitalized for seasonal flu symptoms.
Many doctors and the CDC recommend that you get a flu vaccine, especially if you are very young, older than 60 or already susceptible to the flu due to any other conditions or illnesses. Many of my patients take this route.
Still, for those that do get a flu vaccination as well as for those that choose not to, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can be great ways to keep your immune system strong and hold the seasonal flu at bay.
Here are my tips for using making it through flu season happy and healthy:
Drink plenty of fluids – water is best. Your body needs to stay clean and if there is any virus working its way into your system, flushing it out with plenty of water will help. Also, if you do catch a cold or are battling the flu, staying hydrated will help combat any fever.
Keep moving – this is more a preventative tip, but remember that a healthy body is less likely to succumb to colds and flu. Even if you only walk 20 minutes every day, keeping your body moving and your system in good shape is the best way to stave off illness. (And it’s great for stress, muscle tone and weight loss, too!)
Acupuncture can help – rebalancing the body’s energy and regulating your Qi will help stimulate the immune system, which can help fight off colds and the flu virus.
Eat (and drink) well – a balanced, healthy diet will keep you body fueled and provide you with critical vitamins and minerals that can protect against colds and flu. Here are some great foods to eat to keep your body strong against the flu:
- Apples are great for the digestion and can also be cooked. They really help to keep the lungs moist.
- Pears help stop coughs and aid the body in the expulsion of phlegm and heat in the lungs.
- Aged tangerine peel in Chinese medicine is known as chen pi and is one of the most commonly used Chinese herbs. It helps expel excess phlegm and mucus, as well as harmonize digestive complains such as nausea and vomiting to prevent illness.
- The inner bark of cinnamon is known as Rou Gui. This commonly used spice is very warming and is effective if your ailment includes a feeling of cold or cold with shivering. I also offer patients ready-made and customized herbal medicines that can be used during flu season to prevent illness.
So, follow these tips to avoid the autumn flu season and stay healthy.
And, enjoy the last few days of this crisp fall air…it will be winter before you know it!
Here are some additional resources that may be interesting and helpful:
DrOz.com article on acupuncture and the flu
AcuFinder.com article about herbal treatments for colds and flu
Livestrong.com article outlines Top 10 Foods to Eat to Avoid the Flu