By Andrew Castellanos, L.Ac.
This is the time of year when it’s easy to get sick. The change in seasons means a shift in the very air. It’s no wonder that we commonly say: “It smells like fall!” Temperatures start to shift, light wanes, and our immune systems have to work overtime to keep a balance in our body. It’s easier for us to “catch a chill” in the late fall months.
In Chinese medicine, summer is a time when our energy stays on the surface of our bodies. In the fall, our qi settles a little deeper. And while summer is a heart season, fall is all about the lungs. Lungs are susceptible to colds and flus. The chill of early morning air can sneak right in and infect us, if we’re not careful.
Prevention is the key when it comes to avoiding the plague of the change in seasons. Your first line of defense is to slow down and be mindful of taking better care of yourself. Consider that you might need more rest this time of year (and all through the winter), and you might notice your appetite start to rise as your body works harder to maintain the right internal temperature.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are wise modalities for “building up” the body and avoiding illness. Those who regularly employ acupuncture as a means to stay healthy do sometimes get sick. But in general, they don’t stay sick for quite as long. That’s because acupuncture gives a boost to the body’s own ability to take care of itself.
Vitamin C is always a good preventative nutritional choice. Probiotics (“good bacteria”) also help promote good immune response. Vitamin D provides a boost to the immune system and is great for people that tend to get a little depressed in the winter months from a lack of sunlight. Zinc is beneficial for the immune system and for swollen glands and sore throat.
Metagenics makes some wonderful immune system-boosters:
- Echinacea Synergy
- D3 1000
- Ultra Potent-C 1000 tabs
- Ultra Potent-C powder
- ImmuCore (great for prevention)
- Zinc A.G
- Ultra Flora Plus DF capsules(non-dairy)
We sell many of these products here at Stillpoint, but we also have a new web site where you can automatically purchase Metagenics products that I recommend: www.stillpointsf.meta-ehealth.com
And of course, many traditional words of advice are actually quite true when it comes to staying healthy in the respiratory system:
- Washing hands frequently
- Not touching the face
- Never leaving the house with wet hair
- Staying bundled up in chilly weather
It’s particularly important to keep the upper back, shoulders and head warm and dry when braving damp Bay Area weather. The expression “catch a cold” can be taken very literally in Chinese medicine. When you catch a cold, that means that cold air or wind has invaded your body—mainly through your upper back and neck—and preyed on any deficiencies that you already have in your immune system, based on being out of balance. Acupuncture can help bring your body into balance so that you are less susceptible to those insidious winds.
In Western medicine, of course, we refer to a pathogenic factor invading our system and making us sick. Either way you look at it, the key is better care and prevention up front.