While this winter season has already brought us some unseasonably warm and dry weather, winter is still upon us and with these fluctuations in temperature, it's especially important to stay on top of your immunity.
From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, a person's health is very connected to the environment in which we live. As the winter landscape transforms during these chillier months of the year, it's often taken for granted that we humans are also meant to adapt and transition during these times. With the changing of seasons it is so important to remember that subtle changes to your diet, sleep patterns, and lifestyle can be very beneficial in helping you stay healthy.
When it comes to diet, it's easy to lose track of what's in season or locally grown when fruits and vegetables from across the globe are readily available to us year round. Why is it important to eat local produce that's in season?
Fresh produce that doesn't have to travel long distances to get to you is more nutrient dense.
Recent studies have shown that some vegetables lose as much as half their nutrient load even just a few days after being harvested. Eating locally sourced foods is also better for the environment since the less your food has to travel, the less greenhouse emissions are produced, reducing our carbon footprint.
As everything in nature tends to slow down during the winter it's also best to eat warming foods to avoid a sluggish digestive system. Making a hearty stew with root vegetables is a better choice than say an arugula salad with fruit, which would be a better choice during the summer since it will have more of a cooling, detoxifying effect on the body. This might also be the time to try an immune boosting bone broth if you haven't already. Making a warming bone broth that's been slow cooked is packed with protein, specifically gelatin, which in addition to its immune boosting benefits, helps fortify your hair and nails and is fantastic for joints and healthy bone building.
ACUPUNCTURE & HERBAL MEDICINE
In addition to being mindful of what you eat during the winter months, if you know you're prone to dragging a bit during this time, you can also take preventative measures to boost your immune system by getting regular acupuncture treatments.
More and more research has shown that acupuncture regulates the immune system through its anti-cancer, anti-stress, and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
One of the strengths of Chinese Medicine is that all treatments, even preventative treatment, is very individual to each person. We are all different in our body constitutions, with varying deficiencies and strengths and what is right for one is not the best treatment strategy for another. While getting sick is often generalized as simply having low immunity, within the theory of Chinese Medicine the why or the root cause as well as the contributing factors are vital to address in treatment. Whether you're having trouble managing emotional stress during this holiday season, or your digestive system is a bit off from a diet that is all over the place, lowered immunity is not treated with the same set of acupuncture points or a one size fits all super herb.
And lastly, if you've already gotten sick and you find yourself trying to survive a nasty cold, acupuncture and herbal remedies which are customized to your constitution, will help shorten the duration of illness and in many cases nip it in the bud.
- Cheng Xinnong, Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1987 Foreign Languages Press, Beijing.
- O'Conner J and Bensky D (translators), Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text, 1981 Eastland Press, Seattle, WA.
- Liang, Fengxia et al. "Acupuncture and Immunity." Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM 2015 (2015): 260620. PMC. Web. 28 Dec. 2017
- Dharmananda, S. "Chinese Herb Response to Flu Pandemic, Avian Flu and Other Epidemics". Institute for Traditional Medicine website: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/flu.htm