When it comes to preventing and treating colds and flus, there seems to be not many options: stay away from sick people, wash your hands frequently, flu shots, and taking Airborne. Luckily in Chinese medicine, there are many more solutions to boost your immunity and keep you healthy during the colder months.
One of my absolute favorite herbs is astragalus. This “qi tonic” herb is one of the pillars of Chinese herbal medicine. It has an incredible ability to boost your immune system and prevent external pathogens (colds, flus, etc) from wreaking havoc in your body. I take astragalus (Oregon’s Wild Harvest Astragalus Organic Supplement) as a daily supplement from about October to April.
Sometimes we feel a little more vulnerable to catching bugs. This can be if you are around kids often, traveling on an airplane, or have just been pushing yourself too hard. In these cases, I like to take echinacea (Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme Liquid Phyto-Capsules) for several days. It gives the immune system an even bigger boost when you might be feeling compromised.
Then there are times that we KNOW we are about to get sick. This can be after someone sneezes in your face (somehow I know we’ve all been there, agh!), you ended up outside too long in cold weather without a jacket, or you’re starting to get that unwelcome tickle in your throat. When this happens to me, I reach for Herbal Resistance (Source Naturals Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid) and take a dropperful. There have been countless times over the last decade that Herbal Resistance has saved me from getting sick. It has several Chinese herbs in it along with echinacea.
In addition to these herbal recommendations, it is always a great idea to get regular acupuncture. There are specific acupuncture points that help boost your immune system. Acupuncture, cupping, and guasha are also used in the treatment of colds and flus. Our immune systems will get compromised when we overexert ourselves. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and are resting more during the winter months. It is also advised to eat warm, cooked foods like soups and stews. Also, eating foods and spices that are warm energetically like ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. There’s a reason why these herbs are known as holiday spices! Stay away from cold and raw foods. This is not the time to be doing a raw food cleanse!
What do you do if you DO end up with a cold or flu?! Go talk to your acupuncturist/herbalist! Acupuncture and herbs can help reduce the duration and severity of you illness. Unfortunately, I do not have a cure-all for these ailments, because pathogens present themselves differently in each individual. One person might catch a cold that starts with a sore throat and feeling feverish, while person they share the house with had body aches and chills on the onset of their cold. Fortunately, there are herb formulas and acupuncture treatment for these different presentations.
Hope this helps you navigate the season with health and vitality! Happy holidays!
Disclosure: If you are on prescription medications, please check with your healthcare provider for herb-drug interactions prior to ingesting any herbs.
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