Fighting Flu Season with Acupuncture

While the flu is actually not a season, we have become programmed to think of it as the months of November through March. On average, the flu hospitalizes thousands every year, especially the young and elderly. There are also a number of deaths related to the flu, mostly due to people already having compromised immune systems.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a number of viruses. To date, there are approximately 26 to 30 different known strains of the flu virus. This is one of the reasons the flu vaccine has only mild efficacy. The flu vaccine itself, typically only covers five to seven strains of the flu.  Symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, a sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, pains, runny nose and watery eyes.

The good news is we can avoid the flu by implementing healthy habits and taking care of ourselves throughout the year. The best way to treat a disease is to avoid it.  Chinese Medicine (CM) is a great tool to have in the toolbox for preventing the flu.  Utilizing botanical Chinese formulas and acupuncture treatments can be very beneficial in keeping the flu at bay.

Regular acupuncture treatments help boost immunity, while balancing and regulating the body’s energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Several studies have shown acupuncture can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and shorten the length of time that somebody is ill.

Chinese botanicals are also a great way to ward off the flu bug. Two botanicals in particular are specified for strengthening Qi and boosting the immune system. The first is huang qi or astragalus and the other is dang shen or codonopsis. There are a couple of other botanicals commonly used as antivirals too. These are ban lan gen (isatis root) and da qing ye (isatis leaf).

Along with CM, there are other things we can utilize to avoid catching the flu. Regular exercise, ample sleep and a proper healthy diet are two of the best things anybody can use to stay disease-free. Exercising enough to break a sweat without overdoing it has been shown to reduce the incidence of the flu. So incorporating practices like tai chi, qi gong and yoga can actually reduce physical and emotional stress, while strengthening the immune system and preventing disease.

Eating a healthy diet is essential for preventing any disease, not just the flu. This includes eating a very balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Foods that contain beta-carotene are especially helpful at boosting the immune system.  Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and garlic are good examples of beta-carotene rich foods. Also, I highly recommend drinking water on a daily basis. Ample fluid intake helps the body flush out invaders and toxins, while keeping the mucus membranes and upper respiratory tract healthy enough to fight off the virus. One recommendation suggests taking half your body weight in pounds, convert that number to ounces and drink that amount of water. So a 150 lb person would drink 75 ounces/day.

Taking advantage of what CM can offer, while incorporating healthy daily habits will insure this upcoming flu season passes by without wreaking havoc on any of us.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Acupuncture and Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and...

CM and Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that disrupts normal function of the epithelial cells in the body. Epithelial cells line the passageways of many of our vital organs, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and the skin.

Healthy Foods for Fall

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and...

Five Self Care Tips for Fall

Fall is a favorite season for many people. The weather starts getting a little cooler, things are beginning to slow down and preparations for the holidays are in full swing. For many others, fall is not so festive.

3 Reasons Acupuncture Supports Couples Facing Infertility

When you consider all the changes in our agricultural practices, the increased number of medications we take, as well as our dependence on plastic and technology that is constantly emitting low-grade radiation, it’s no surprise more couples are ...

Acupuncture for Kids

Most kids, as well as a lot of adults, are afraid of needles. So the pairing of acupuncture and kids might not be an obvious one. However, more and more parents are seeking alternative methods of treatment for their children ...