Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

As with Western medicine, in Chinese Medicine colds and flu are considered to be an external pathogen invading the body. When our body's energy, or qi, is strong, we are able to fight off these pathogens. If our qi is weaker, we come down with symptoms of cold and flu: headache, chills, fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, etc.

To keep our qi strong and prevent colds and flu, it is important to:

  • eat a healthy diet full of fresh raw fruits and vegetables
  • cut out white and brown sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, all of which lower our immunity
  • wash hands frequently with regular soap and water
  • get outside in fresh air, take walks and expose yourself to sunshine. It may be wise to supplement with vitamin D3 this time of year
  • receive acupuncture treatments which strengthens the qi, balance energy, keeping us healthy and helping restore us to health more quickly
  • herbal medicine, supplements and proper food choices keep immunity strong.
To keep the energy flowing smoothly and our immunity strong, it is important to make sure all meridians are balanced, but immunity often relates especially to the earth and metal elements, which show up in your pulse as your spleen and lung meridians.

An acupuncturist will often use points such as St. 36 to keep the energy strong, and Sp. 6 to make sure food is digested properly and nutrients are absorbed and turned into vital energy.

LI 11 is a powerful immune point. LI 4 and TW 5 are often used to help the body push pathogens back out. Lu 7 combined with LI 4 strengthens the body's defense against pathogens.

Often the earth and metal shu points on the back (Bl 13 and Bl 20) are needled to harmonize the body's energy and strengthen immunity.

In terms of herbal medicine:

  • Astragalus is an excellent immune tonic
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Maitaki can bolster the immune system, especially when the immune system is compromised
  • Four Gentlemen Formula - a classic Chinese herb formula to keep the Qi strong
  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a combination of ginseng and astragalus, used in specific cases to strengthen the body`s Qi
  • Gui Pi Tang is used when both qi and blood need a boost, with signs such as insomnia, irritability and anxiety
Once someone comes down with symptoms of the flu, the treatment focus switches from formulas that tonify the qi to formulas which expel the invading pathogen. There are western herbs and nutritional remedies such as Vitamin C and Echinacea, which are beneficial.

In Chinese medicine, classic herbal formulas are used, including:
  • Yin Qiao - This formula contains cooling detoxifying herbs such as forsythia and honeysuckle. It is used when just getting sick, with symptoms which include sore throat, headache, and a yellow tongue coat.
  • Gan Mao Ling - if you find yourself in the midst of a bad cold or flu
We carry these Chinese herbs and formulas at the Birch Center, and your acupuncturist can help you choose the formula which is right for you.

Please feel free to call us at the Birch Center if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment: (412) 381-0116.

Here's to your health...stay healthy and strong this season!

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

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