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Cold and flu season is upon us. Are you ready? Although flu is only sporadic in Chester County PA right now, it will become widespread as the weather turns colder.  This year it is predicted that there will be 1 billion colds and 95 million cases of the flu in U.S. Besides the obvious measures to prevent colds and flu – things like washing your hands, getting enough sleep and avoiding people who are sick, what else can you do?

For starters, keep your immune system strong all year long – a healthy immune system is key to prevention. Acupuncture is a tool you can use to keep yourself healthy and prevent all types of disease, not just colds and flu.

Acupuncture Boosts Immunity

Acupuncture helps boost immunity by stimulating the production of natural killer cells – your first line of defense against viruses such as colds. In addition it acts on a complex immune building system that regulates white blood cells directly linked to fighting infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders.

Acupuncture boosts the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. Disease prevention begins by focusing on the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi or defensive energy. This protective barrier acts like a shield to keep out unwanted pathogens responsible for colds and flu.

Faster Healing Time

Receiving acupuncture at the first sign of a cold can also provide symptom relief and faster healing if you do catch a cold or the flu. Acupuncture helps with common symptoms such as chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. Not only can acupuncture provide immediate symptom relief – a course of just a few treatments can also reduce the risk of a cold progressing to bronchitis as well as shorten the duration of the illness.

Are you Qi Deficient?

If you catch colds easily, have low energy, and require a long time recuperating from an illness – your Wei Qi may be deficient. In Chinese medicine, Wei Qi is known as the defensive energy that surrounds your body to provide a protective barrier between you and the environment. Regular acupuncture keeps the defensive qi strong to more easily resist colds and flu.

Foods to Eat – Foods to Avoid

Acupuncture works best when combined with a proper diet. Diet is important for strong Wei Qi. Acupuncturists are trained to provide dietary recommendations that help keep your defenses strong. Foods to avoid would include dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as wheat. These are cold and cool natured foods in Chinese medicine. Sugar is another major no-no when it comes to immunity. Did you know that your immune system is depressed for several hours after consuming sugar?

Eat With the Seasons

Balance is key to keeping healthy and this goes for diet as well as lifestyle. Try practicing eating with the seasons by eating more root vegetables such as baked yams or steamed carrots. Avoid out of season foods like salads, fruits, and cold drinks in the winter. A nourishing diet of steamed vegetables, rice, and small amounts of animal protein such as chicken or beef are recommended in winter time. Fish is a cold food so is better in summertime when the weather is hot.

Soup is a wonderful immune boosting food and can act as a remedy for colds. Be sure the broth is clear and does not contain wheat noodles. Chicken soup has long been heralded as a good cold remedy. Chinese medicine recognizes chicken as a warm natured food that combats internal coldness which can lead to weakening of the defensive energy.

For more information on diet and Chinese medicine, read my nutritional counseling page and find out how YOU can stay healthy to prevent colds and flu this winter.

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