In the San Francisco Bay Area, spring is in evidence in the blooming of flowers, trees, and weeds. Weather and temperatures are in a time of flux. It can be sunny and hot one moment and damp and foggy the next. Wind is common in the afternoon if not in the morning. Late afternoon and evenings can still be quite chilly. Springtime allergies and weather fluctuations can be hard on the immune system! Not to mention that colds and the flu are still making their rounds.
A few suggestions for staying healthy:
- Herbs and acupuncture can fortify the body’s immune system to help minimize allergy suffering. Ideally, acupuncture and herbs should be taken prior to the onset of symptoms for best results.
- Wash your hands before meals. Avoid touching your eyes and nose as well as your mouth as these are points of germ entry.
- Dress in layers and wear a scarf or high collar and be sure to have appropriate wet weather gear. Change as soon as possible if you become wet, this includes sweaty workout clothes. Wearing wet clothes can result in becoming chilled further challenging the immune system which can make one susceptible to illness.
- Getting an acupuncture treatment when “feeling worn down” or when you feel a cold/flu coming on can help prevent or lessen the severity of a cold or flu.
- Chinese herbal formulas can help strengthen the immune system to help ward off or lessen the severity of colds and flu.
- The everyday stress of life also affects our immunity. Make sure you have “stress relieving activities” built into your daily life…even just a few minutes. A short walk around the block, meditation, a number of deep breaths, laughter, spending time with friends are ways to maintain sanity.
- Sleep…make sure you get adequate quality sleep. Insomnia is a common problem. Menopausal women, parents of small children, stress, work/home life commitments all can get in the way of falling or staying asleep. There are numerous ways of getting your sleep back on track. A consistent nighttime routine, no caffeinated drinks after noon are a few tips.
If you feel the beginnings of a cold act right away:
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep; tone down rigorous exercise routines until you feel fully recovered.
- Drink plenty of fluids (room temperature or tea temperature, not cold/icy) and soups (as they are nourishing and easy for the body to digest).
- Drink fresh ginger tea to help keep a cold from settling in. Drink it as long as any nasal/cough discharge you may be having stays clear (stop drinking if phlegm turns yellow or green).
- Make sure you are taking Vitamin C in appropriate dosage.
- You may have discovered Chinese herbal formulas for colds, flu, cough, etc. at your local health food store. I would recommend calling me or consult another Chinese herbalist before taking any Chinese herbal formula as Chinese herbal formulas are made for specific stages of colds and flu. It is important to have guidance so as not to make your cold or flu worse.
If you suffer from allergies:
- Not always practical…but minimize exposure to allergens. If you have a cat, you can keep the cat indoors so s/he doesn’t bring pollen in on their fur. Another option is brushing the cat with a dander brush and keeping the cat off bedclothes.
- Irrigating your nose is a good way to wash out the allergens. There are several ways to do this. Instructions can be found at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nasal-lavage/MM00552. The Neti Pot makes nasal irrigation easy with its clever design and included instructions. One piece of advice: if you plan to use the Neti Pot in the shower or tub, use a plastic model!
- Chinese herbs are especially effective at fortifying the immune system and minimizing allergy symptoms if taken for the 6 weeks prior to the advent of allergy season.
- Acupuncture treatments and herbs can be very helpful in alleviating symptoms and lessen the severity of allergies.
If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact me, by phone or e-mail.