Hugh Castor, Guest Writer
With the influenza season in full swing, it is a good idea to take preventive measures to decrease your chances of getting sick. There are a number of natural, safe, and simple measures from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Naturopathy that one can use to minimize exposure and to increase resistance to the flu. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!
One of the best ways to not get the flu is to avoid it all together. The flu is thought to be spread mainly through contact with an infected person. So if possible, avoid direct contact with people who exhibit obvious symptoms of an active infection (chills, fever, malaise, body aches, coughing, etc) for up to 48 hours after their fever or main symptoms have passed.
Another route of infection is to pick up the virus on a dirty surface and then infect oneself by touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. This is less likely, but still possible. The following, somewhat obvious recommendations, are taken from the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to help minimize the chance of infection:
* Wash hands frequently or after touching a suspect surface (door knob, faucet, etc).
* Avoid touching the eyes, mouth, or nose
* Avoid crowds and definitely avoid contact with infected people.
* Wear a facemask when in contact with sick persons.
The next step in avoiding getting sick is to keep oneself in optimum health in order to have a strong and vigilant immune system. By following basic health maintenance one can lay a positive foundation for great health and avoiding illness. This basically involves these steps:
* Get a proper night’s sleep – 8-10 hrs. should suffice.
* Exercise regularly – cardio 3-5 times a week, strength training 2-3, yoga or tai chi daily.
* Eat a balanced, organic diet – lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, high quality meats and dairy, drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Minimize alcohol, sugar, white flour, saturated, hydrogenated, and trans fats, excessive coffee, and artificial dyes and flavors.
* Develop healthy stress coping techniques – meditation, prayer, journaling, art, quiet walks, hot baths, vigorous exercise, dancing, loving community and family interactions, playing with the kids, etc.
* Proper supplementation – A high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, essential fatty acids, probiotics, herbs (i.e. Siberian ginseng, ashwaganda, holy basil, astragalus, licorice, cordyceps, etc.) and superfoods (i.e. goji berries, spirulina, bee pollen, royal jelly, etc.) can play an important role in supporting high paced, modern lifestyles. Supplementation should be based on individual need –consult your healthcare provider for a specific program.
Hopefully, the above suggestions will keep you from getting sick. But if by some chance you should you feel that you have contracted the flu, acting quickly can limit the duration and severity of its symptoms. By stimulating the immune system and using antiviral substances, one can help the body overcome the virus. The sooner one acts the better the results, so don’t hesitate!
* Proper rest, light and healthy foods, plenty of fluids, and hot baths provide the body with nourishment and support without overburdening it.
* Western supplements – High doses of Vitamin C with bioflavinoids, Zinc, and Vitamin D can possibly help bolster a stronger immune response.
* Western herbal immune stimulants – Olive leaf extract, Echinacea, Elderberry extract, and Osha are well known immune stimulants that work best to increase immune response when taken soon after contracting a virus.
* Eastern herbs – Commonly available Chinese patent herbal formulas such as Gan Mao Ling, Chuan Xin Lian, Zhong Gan Ling conveniently combine strong multiple antiviral herbs to fight influenza. They can greatly diminish the severity and length of the illness if taken soon after contracting the flu. For more specific and individual remedies contact your local Chinese Herbalist.
One important note is that the above suggestions are for general avoidance and early treatment of influenza for a person without other health complications. If you do have other health complications or become sick and exhibit any severe signs such as respiratory distress, a prolonged or very high fever, continuous vomiting, etc. contact your physician immediately. Influenza – especially when complicated by other infections or health conditions such as asthma, emphysema, heart disease, immune deficiencies, etc – is a severe illness that at times may require medical treatment.
With that in mind, remember that during this flu season the vast majority of people can use safe, natural methods to keep them healthy and illness free. So I invite you to try the above methods and have a healthy, flu-less winter ! Also, remember that your local acupuncturist and naturopath can more specifically help address and individual’s health needs. Don’t hesitate to contact them to create a plan for optimum health.
About the Author
As a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hugh Castor employs acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage therapy, nutritional therapy, and Qigong as his main modalities. TCM is a highly effective system of healthcare is used the world over to treat a large number of health complaints. You can find out more about Hugh’s practice and Traditional Chinese Medicine at his website: www.hughsacupuncture.com. Hugh can also be reached via email at [email protected].
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