By Andrew Castellanos, L.Ac.
The first signs you are getting sick—sneezing, itchy throat, body aches, and a lack of sweat—are all warning signs that it’s time to step up your immunity defense. Look to nature for your first clue. This time of year, most animals start to slow down or even hibernate. We can’t expect to be able to keep up the fast pace of summer and maintain the same energy levels. It’s natural to sleep more this time of year. Your immune system really needs it. After all, we are animals too.
Once you’re sick, there’s no turning back. At this point, the ideal scenario is that you stay home, with the windows and doors sealed, and turn up the heat. Staying home serves two purposes—it forces you to slow down and warm up your body, and it keeps germs from spreading to others. Staying warm helps the body to fight illness (that’s why a fever works to kills pathogens). If you have a cold, you literally want to warm up the body to push the “cold” out. Heat helps kill viruses.
If you feel a cold coming on, try the following remedies ASAP:
- A hot bath with Epsom salts or mustard seeds is a great way to warm up and draw out toxins.
- Avoid eating sugar. Sugar tonifies the system and gives you an artificial burst of energy that counteracts the immune system’s ability to slow you down so it can heal you.
- For the same reason, avoid caffeine or other stimulants.
- In Chinese medicine we suggest that you avoid eating meat and animal fats when you are sick, because they are more difficult to digest and take the body’s energy away from healing you. However, chicken soup is another old wive’s tale that really works—it’s a magical elixir that provides easy nutrition and lots of nutrients for your body. If you can get your hands on homemade chicken soup, even better.
- Spicy food is great because it heats you up and makes you sweat.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic.
Orange juice? Surprisingly, not so great. It basically just converts to sugar in your body and will produce more phlegm. You’re better off eating a real orange, which contains fiber, which slows down the digestion process and keeps sugar from entering the bloodstream as quickly as it does in juice form.
Western remedies like NyQuil and Theraflu won’t heal you directly. They just mask your symptoms and palliate your discomfort. But, there is a benefit to them: they can knock you out, which provides your body with much-needed sleep. Especially if discomfort or coughing is keeping you up at night, consider taking these over-the-counter medicines (as directed, of course) for some relief.
And again —I cannot emphasize this enough— stay home! Do not try to “power through.”
And call us at Stillpoint so we can treat you with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Both will work to get rid of lingering cold symptoms like a cough and nasal congestion.