The Easiest Way to Get Over a Cold or Flu? Don't get one.

prevent-cold-flu-acupuncture-woburn-north-andover

Your head is pounding.  No sleep due to the hacking cough.  You’re going through boxes of tissues like no tomorrow.  You didn’t get the license plate of the truck that just ran you over… ahh, cold and flu season is upon us.

Did you get the flu shot?  Should you get the flu shot?  Does it work?  Is it safe?  These are not easy questions to answer and each person will have to make that decision for himself or herself.  Most physicians will recommend the flu shot to protect yourself during the winter months, but the flu virus is only one of many ways that your body may get sick.  

The use of acupuncture and or Chinese herbal medicine can be a tremendous benefit during the cold and flu season.   Whether through boosting the immune system or herbs with strong anti viral properties we have a lot of tools in our toolbox.  Three possible roles acupuncture and herbs can provide for you and your families are: 

1.Prevention  

Keep yourself strong to avoid getting sick.  Consistent use of acupuncture and or Chinese herbal medicine has long proved beneficial to your overall health and specifically can have tremendous benefit to your immune system.  Our bodies are on the constant lookout for “invaders” and ready to take action to kill off any unwanted bacteria or virus.  An immune system functioning in top form is your best friend when exposed to other’s cold and flus.  We’ve all felt that twinge of nervousness when surrounded by others sneezing, hacking and coughing, suddenly wondering if our throat is sore.  

Acupuncture has been studied in great detail for its benefit on the immune system.  Often sought as treatment for immune-compromised patients, clear research evidence has proven its effectiveness.  Dr. Weidong Lu of the Dana Farber Cancer Center published a study of the use of acupuncture to help oncology patient’s immune system recover and stay strong during treatment.  Acupuncture points such as “san li”, “sanchasan” and “hegu” showed direct benefit in boosting the activity of our white blood cells to fight off potential germs.  Seeking acupuncture for maintaining a strong immune system is beneficial during the winter months and is often part of your acupuncturist’s treatment strategy no matter what your complaints may be.

Chinese herbs such as Huang Qi (Astragalus), Shan Yao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae) and Bai Zhu (Atractylodes) offer similar benefits of boosting the immune system.  It is not uncommon for many patients to use a simple Chinese herbal formula (a formula is a combination of herbs) throughout the cold and flu season as a safe and effective “immune booster” and easy way to keep themselves healthy.

Prevention is such a wonderful tool.  As the title of the article mentions, the best way to beat that nasty cold or flu is to simply avoid getting one.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be a fantastic tool.

2.Treatment 

Sometimes we get sick.  It’s as simple as that, and it can be miserable.  For some reason, the world doesn’t stop when we’re not feeling well, chills, fever, body ache’s, you know the rest of the story.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer clear benefits to helping your body beat the germs that are bringing you down.  As previously discussed, boosting the activity of your immune system will help you kill off the invader, but we have other useful tools.

Many acupuncture points have direct effect on the physiology of your body to ease the suffering of your symptoms.   Points like “Ying Xiang” (Smell the Fragrance) have tremendous benefit at draining the sinuses, relieving pressure and helping us breathe when congested.   The point “Dan Zhong” (Chest Center) can help relax the chest, open the lungs, stop coughing and expel the nasty junk from bronchitis.   Your acupuncturist will be able to evaluate your situation and put together a grouping of points that will not only speed your recovery but have significant impact on easing your symptoms and suffering.

The Chinese herbal pharmacopeia has a wide range of herbs that can be of tremendous impact when you’re sick.  An herbalist can evaluate what stage of your sickness you are and match the appropriate strategy.  Often, if caught in the beginning stages an herbal formula can simply release the invading germs from your system and stop the fight before it starts.  Other times the full effect of your cold, flu, bronchitis or other ailment is in full swing and different herbal strategies may be appropriate.  Classic formulas such as “Cang Er Zi Tang” can help clear the sinus, dry up all the junk in your head, relieve sinus headaches and combat sinus infections.  Herbs such as “Jie Geng”, “Ban Xia” and “Zhe Bei Mu” are commonly used to stop coughs, dry up mucous, ease breathing and pressure in the chest and combat bronchitis.  Other herbs such as “Ban Lan Gen”, “Jin Yin Hua” and “Huang Qin” have documented anti viral and anti bacterial properties and may be added to your formula to help your body defeat the infection.

Whether through acupuncture, herbs or a combination of both, Chinese medicine offers safe and effective ways to limit the duration of your illness and significantly reduce your suffering as you get back to health.

3.Recovery

Unfortunately some people succumb to a significant virus and are sick for several weeks.  This can take a tremendous toll on the body and present challenges for returning back to your normal routine.  Fatigue and lethargy, disrupted sleep, low appetite and digestive symptoms are all common complaints from those who have gone ten rounds with a bad cold or flu.   

Fatigue is a symptom that will respond well to treatment.  Improving circulation, reactivating those heavy, achy limbs and lifting the fog from the brain is something you can expect acupuncture and or herbs to help with in your recovery.  

Getting an appropriate appetite reestablished and helping your body obtain nutrients from the food you’re eating and maintain appropriate elimination is another key ingredient to recovering from a challenging cold or flu.  Acupuncture has significant impact on the function of our digestive tract and metabolic health and is something we will explore in greater detail in future articles.  Suffice to say, that proper GI function is something that your acupuncturist is always concerned with.

Whether seeking care to avoid getting sick, recover from being sick or help with symptoms while sick, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have a tremendous amount of benefit.  Staying healthy is a much more enjoyable way to spend the winter months and the ability to take safe, effective and affordable action is available to you with Chinese medicine.  Let us know if we can be of service to you.