Boston Acupuncture – Flu and Cold Prevention

As the long winter starts to wrap up in Boston and the days get progressively longer and warmer, it very important to stay on top of your health with regards to the flu and common cold. A shift of seasons always seems to throw the immune system for a loop and breed the little buggers than can cause body aches, sniffles and an otherwise down feeling. In addition to regular acupuncture treatments to strengthen your body and treat any symptoms, there are some simple ways that you can combat the flu and common cold while fortifying your immune system and boosting your energy for spring activities.

VITAMINS, MINERALS & HERBAL REMEDIES

Echinacea – This popular remedy may shorten the duration of a cold if taken within the first couple of days of symptoms. It is often found as an added ingredient in lozenges but may be taken as a stand alone herb.

Zinc – In addition to providing a boost to the immune system, zinc lozenges can help decrease irritation to the throat and quell the pain of a sore throat. Look for the sugar-free kind to avoid damage to your teeth and waistline.

Chinese herbs – In addition to personalized formulas developed by your Chinese herbalist, you may also take a patent medicine such as Cold Away, that is focused on treating the symptoms of the flu or common cold. Your acupuncturist can order these helpful products for you to keep on hand in your medicine cabinet.

Vitamin D – This vitamin is often used during Boston winters to fight Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) due to the shorter days and decreased sunlight. It can also help during those times when you are feeling a little down or depressed due to sickness. A daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs can help boost your outlook. Recent research has also suggested that at least 1,200 IUs may help combat the flu.

FOODS

Green tea – A wonderful all natural cold fighter. Green tea contains immune system boosters called catechins, which are plant compounds that have anti-oxidant properties. Steep it 3 to 5 minutes and add some crushed fresh ginger for an extra anti-inflammatory effect.

Omega 3 fatty acid rich foods – These foods, like salmon and sardines, have been shown to boost the mood and brain function allowing you to recover faster from the downtime of getting sick. Other mood boosters include lentils and complex carbohydrates in whole grains that help initiate serotonin production in the brain.

Anti-oxidant rich foods – An anti-oxidant will help strengthen the immune system and repair damaged cells caused by the flu or common cold virus. Some examples are vitamin C, beta carotene, zinc and selenium. Foods that contain these super nutrients and anti-oxidants include mushrooms (selenium and potassium), red bell pepper (vitamin C), sweet potatoes or pumpkin (beta carotene), whole grains (zinc and selenium) and Brazil nuts (selenium).

ACTIVITIES

Exercise – Even a brief 20 minute walk at a brisk pace can increase the production of serotonin and other feel good chemicals in the body that will help you combat the laziness of struggling with flu or cold symptoms.

Wash your hands - Yep, the easiest one to do and yet often overlooked. Frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds can decrease the chances of catching the rhinovirus, the germ that is responsible for about 35 percent of common colds. If you have a lot of hand-to-hand contact, it is even more important to do this often although be sure to use a moisturizer afterward to combat dry skin. I love Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve.

Sleep – Get more of it! If you get less than seven hours of sleep a night, you are almost three times more likely to develop a respiratory infection than if you get eight hours or more according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. If you are having trouble getting to sleep, a low dose of melatonin or valerian can help you relax and snooze a little easier. Also try Bach’s flower remedies like Rescue Sleep or Rescue Remedy.

Breathe – If you do find that you’ve caught the sniffles and are having some congestion built up in the nasal passages, try to irrigate and clean them out using a Neti Pot. Another less invasive alternative is to put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of very hot water, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam. You should feel the sinus tension and congestion just melt away.

Here’s hoping that all you Bostonians make it through the winter-spring transition with nary a problem but if you find you are feeling a little out of sorts or are struggling with the remnants of an end-of-season cold, try the above remedies. Regular acupuncture treatments can also help increase the body’s resistance to germs and decrease the time you are dealing with the aggravating symptoms. In closing, best wishes for a very happy and healthy March and see you in the future.


Category : Acupuncture &Blog &Chinese Medicine &Common Cold &Flu &Immune System &Prevention &Uncategorized &Wellness Posted on March 1, 2011

2 Comments → “Boston Acupuncture – Flu and Cold Prevention”

  1. Great post! I’m going to blog about it tomorrow. I’m a big fan of a lot of these ideas. There are a lot of things we all can do to prevent colds or greatly shorten their duration.

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