*Flu Prevention with Traditional Chinese Medicine*
Autumn has officially arrived! As outside temperatures cool down we notice our vulnerability to contracting the flu begins to increase. Once the symptoms arise, there are certainly a number of over the counter medication options to help suppress symptoms of the flu and help us get through the day, but I would like to take a few minutes to look at some strategies for preventing the flu before it even begins. Below are some concepts from centuries-old Chinese Medicine to stay healthy this time of year. I have outlined some of the concepts and actionable items that I have seen to be most effective in my practice to help you stay healthy and prevent recurring illness during the autumn and winter.
*How Chinese Medicine Describes the Immune System – **Wei (Defensive) Qi:*
The body’s vital energy is referred to as Qi (pronounced “chee”). There are numerous types of qi that keep the body functioning. The body’s defensive, or protective, qi is referred to as Wei qi. Wei qi is very similar to the immune system. When Wei qi is deficient, the body is susceptible to infection from pathogens such as rhinovirus or influenza.
Wei qi is something the body must create, Wei qi is made from Gu qi (yep, pronounced just like the handbag!) which comes from the nutrients in our foods. This is why a healthy diet composed of nutrient-dense food is foundational for prevention during cold and flu season.
*The Lung Channel:*
According to Chinese medicine, the lung channel is the primary channel affected when we are sick with the flu. There are two primary reasons for this:
1) The lung channel is considered the source of wei qi.
2) The nose and throat are considered extensions of the lung channel which is the primary route of infection from viruses that cause the flu.
Foods that support lung qi: pears, persimmons, almonds, turnips.
*Keep Healthy During Flu Season with TCM*
– Keep back of neck and body protected and warm
– Drink warm green tea
– Eat more mushrooms, seaweed, miso
– Eat a diet rich in nutrients and avoid starchy, sugary foods
*Asian Pear Recipe ~ To Strengthen the Lung*
· 1 Asian pear
· 1 Chinese date
· 2 teaspoons honey
· Lemon juice
Wash the pear and pat dry with paper towel. Cut the top off the pear and set aside (this will become the lid). Remove the core.
Spoon 2 teaspoons honey into the pear. Add 1 Chinese date. Place the top back on the pear. Brush lemon juice over the skin of the pear.
*A Note on Autumn*
Chinese medicine associates the season of autumn with the lungs. The lungs are the organ of grief and some people become naturally melancholy at the end of summer. Autumn can also be dry, and our lungs have gotten used to the summer warmth, so the sudden cooling can weaken the lung channel.
Interestingly, All Saints Day is celebrated in early fall (Nov 1) – in many church traditions this is a time set aside in remembrance of our loved ones who have passed away. Healthy grieving during this season is important for our lung health.
When you do get sick (as we all will from time to time), it is always my strongest advice to listen to your body, take a few days off and allow your body the rest and time it needs to heal. I know that we don’t always have the opportunity to take the time our body needs, in which case there are many exceptionally powerful herbs and medicinal foods that can help shorten the duration of your illness. Check out my feed for ongoing posts on this topic throughout this cold and flu season!
As always be sure to check out my daily and weekly posts for more details on this month’s blog post!