There are plenty of tips on how to stay healthy in the winter: get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, stay active, etc. (read our top 8 winter health practices) But, even if you’re taking care it’s still likely that you may pick up one of the many viruses that can cause a common cold before spring.
From a TCM perspective, a diagnosis is made according to the specific signs and symptoms involved, the two most common are:
Wind-Heat Attack – People with wind-heat will have a combination of the following symptoms: fever and chills with more fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose or sinus congestion with yellow phlegm. Also look for thirst, concentrated urine, cough with yellow sputum, headache and body aches
Wind-Cold Attack – People with wind-cold will have symptoms such as; fever and chills with more chills, fatigue, a desire for warmth, runny nose or sinus congestion with clear phlegm, inability to get warm, stiff neck and shoulders, and headache.
If you do happen to catch a cold…8 tips to get well and speed up recovery:
- At the first sign of a cold take an herbal formula. We carry tinctures in the office at 8branches for adults and children. Tinctures are easily absorbed and aid in stopping a cold in it’s tracks, or just relieving some unfortunate symptoms. Depending on they type of cold you have, formulas may vary from the popular Yin Qiao San for a sore throat, decongestants like Bi Yan Pian, cold formula Gan Mao Ling, Gui Zhi Tang for body aches, and Jade Windscreen for preventive measures and early onset. Be sure to stop taking your other herbal formulas, especially tonifying herbs like ginseng. Many make the mistake thinking these may be helpful, when they can actually worsen symptoms. Contact your TCM practitioner/herbalist with any questions.
- Take a hot bath or steam shower with some therapeutic essential oils or herbs. Oils like eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary, frankincense, along with others are great to open the chest, reduce congestion, and decrease inflammation. We suggest investing in a Family Physician kit (sold at 8branches) to have your medicine cabinet of oils for use at home. Soak with some epsom salts to relax with the powers of magnesium to re-mineralize. After warming your body,take care to wrap up warmly; encouraging some slight sweating can be beneficial.
- SLEEP! Get at least 8 hours of sleep and rest more often as needed. Your body needs the time to heal.
- Acupressure– This simple routine can help boost immunity and relieve symptoms in both adults and kids. When you pick up your herbal tincture, ask us about points that would work best for you, we are happy to prescribe and demonstrate a simple acupressure routine designed just for you. You can also stop in for ear seeds to be placed on key acupressure points.
- Drink fluids – warm broth, tea, and water with lemon – check out our natural cold remedies.
- Stick to foods that boost the immune system and are high in Vitamins A & D like bone broth (full of much needed nutrients and minerals), pumpkin seeds (high in zinc and omega-3), cod liver oil, eggs, green tea, raw honey, and vegetables; carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, scallions, ginger, garlic, dark leafy greens and mushrooms. AVOID sugar and caffeine which may feed the pathogen or give you a false sense of energy.
- Get an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture and moxibustion can provide immediate relief from cold symptoms and help the body expel the pathogen much faster. Needles are inserted into points that have been shown to activate immune function.
- Wrap up (keeping your head and neck covered) and go for a walk to get your blood circulating. Light movement can not only help you feel better, it may make you feel less “stuck” in bed. If you don’t have the energy or desire to leave the house, some simple stretches or light housework might give you a sense of purpose while you’re taking a break. Don’t be afraid to move and always listen to your body.
A gut feeling, why is digestion so important?:
From a TCM perspective, we note the importance of digestion as a way to build and nourish qi–this includes our protective wei qi. The function of the Spleen is two-fold: as it nourishes and strengthens the body through proper transformation and transportation of food, it is also the mother of the lungs – our delicate, outer most organ that is often the first to be harmed by exterior attacks.
When you nourish the mother (Spleen/Stomach), you nourish the child (Lungs/Large intestine). For instance; since Moisture is generated by the Spleen and transported to the Lung, Spleen problems lead to a building-up of Moisture, or Dampness. This Dampness in the Lung can congeal into phlegm that obstructs the bronchi, throat, and nose, impairing respiration, causing coughing, asthma, and nasal congestion.
Consider taking a probiotic supplement or increasing your intake of fermented foods. These are helpful in promoting better digestion, boosting immune function, reducing mucus and phlegm, and increasing assimilation of nutrients. Western medicine is finding the role of bacteria in the gut to be a major factor of influence on the immune system. Check out the research: here and more on probiotics here.
Select advice courtesy of Jill Blakeway,