The absolute best way to treat colds and flu’s is to prevent them! Acupuncture and herbs are a fabulously effective way to boost your immune system! This is a great idea for anyone but especially for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. If you catch colds easily, have low energy and it takes a long time for you to recover from an illness then you’re immune system may be weak. If you’ve already come down with something, then chinese medicine can help relieve the symptoms and speed your recovery.
In chinese medicine, colds and flus are categorized as wind-heat or wind-cold.
Wind-cold comes on slowly. You may be feeling run down, slightly head-achy and chilled. You may also have a neck ache or clear mucus. This could last for a day or so before you surrender to the feeling of “I’m sick.” Wind-heat comes on suddenly with a sore throat or fever, the time between “I think I might be getting sick” and being sick is a matter of hours. There may also be yellow phlegm or body aches.
Besides getting acupuncture or taking herbal formulas there is much you can do at home to treat yourself. It’s important to eat light, easy to digest foods like soups, veggies, well cooked rice and rice noodles. Avoid eating lots of cold foods like salads, cold sandwiches, chilled drinks, popsicles, and ice cream. Also avoid foods that may cause Dampness in the body. Dampness is heavy in nature and contributes to phlegm production. Therefore, stay away from foods that are damp in nature such as dairy products, fried foods, greasy foods, foods high in fat . (Stir fry is usually OK as long you cook with a small amount of oil). Raw foods also contribute to cold and dampness. Salads, fruits and fruit juices should be taken in moderation.
These dietary guidelines are especially important for children, all of whom have inherently weak spleen qi (digestion). Those who have weak spleen qi are especially susceptible to an overabundant production of mucus. That is why kids tend to be snotty. As soon as your kid gets sick or congested follow the guidelines above- this will go a long way towards your child feeling better faster without having to resort to antibiotics. Its also a good idea to sneak some herbs into their food or drinks – children respond very well to herbal medicines. Your acupuncturist can set you up with a formula that is appropriate.
But, as I mentioned before, the best treatment is prevention. Start at least 6 weeks before cold and flu season with acupuncture and herbs to get your immune system revved up. Chinese medicine and herbs have a cumulative effect, you want to give yourself time for the treatments to take full effect.
If you do come down with wind-cold (see above) try these recipes…
In China, ginger, used in cooking and medicine, was so highly regarded that preserved ginger was stored in highly decorated “ginger jars,” which were given as precious gifts. Next time you have that “oh, I think I might be getting sick” feeling try some ginger tea, bundle up and then crawl under the covers to get some rest. The idea is to break into a light therapeutic sweat to “expel the pathogen” as they say in chinese medicine. If you don’t break a sweat try it a few hours later. Ginger is also geat for nauseau or vomiting, clearing up phlegm, expeling gas, and soothing the stomach. Who says all chinese herbs have to taste bad?
- Thinly slice a 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunk of ginger.
- Add to three cup of water , bring to a light boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add some honey….Yum!
Miso Soup with Scallions
Miso is like a bouillion paste usually made from soybeans, but also can be made from other beans or grains. Natural miso is a living food containing many beneficial microorganisms which can be killed by over-cooking. For this reason, it is recommended that the miso be added to soups or other foods being prepared after they are removed from the heat.
- Bring two to three cups water to a boil with 3-5 chopped scallions, add veggies, ginger or tofu to the soup if you want something heartier.
- Remove from heat and add about one tablespoon of miso. Taste and add more water or more miso to adjust the flavor.
- Top with additional chopped fresh scallions. A squeeze of lemon is nice as well.