Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season (…or nip one in the bud if it starts!)

Article by acupuncturist, Rebecca Parker

When everyone around you is sniffling and coughing, you need a strategy. Here’s how to avoid getting sick:

Become obsessive about washing your hands. Especially before eating or when coming home from being out and about.
Get enough sleep! Can’t be overemphasized. 8-10 hours is best.
Eat clean (fruits, veggies, whole grains, good quality protein and fats) and limit alcohol. Keep sugar to a minimum, it’s been shown to depress the immune system for hours afterwards. Eat a serving of dark leafy veggies daily.
Take Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Windscreen Powder), which contains herbs like Astragalus to boost the immune system. Do not take this if you are already sick.
Take Vitamin D: the FDA says 2,000 ius is the safe upper limit, but this is very conservative. Darker skinned people and those who are obsessive about sunblock need more than lighter skinned people. Research shows that 10,000 ius can be safely taken daily. It is important for immune support, and can help prevent the flu. Go to to read up on this topic in more depth. The best thing to do if possible, is get your blood levels tested.
Exposing yourself to things you love or that create a good feeling can go a long way to boosting your immunity.

Pay attention to the warning signs!!! If you feel like you are going over the waterfall toward sickness and misery, take action right away. Now is the time to wipe it out.

Drink tons of water (no ice!) to flush it out.
Eliminate all sugar, alcohol and dairy. Soup is perfect food now.
Rest rest rest! Taking a little time off now could save you from days of incapacitation.
If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water. Echinacea-goldenseal tincture is helpful when there seems to be drippy suppuration in the back of the throat. Do not take Echinacea if you think you have H1N1.
Take vitamin C. I like emergenC because it’s easy and tasty, though it does have sugar. A few thousand mg per day is good. Vitamin D is very important too. You can take a high dose (up to 50,000 iu) safely for short term. See the above section.
Zinc has been shown to limit the duration of illness. Take up to 50mg for just the duration of symptoms, not longer, or you can induce a mineral imbalance.
Sweat it out: take a hot bath, put on your warmest sweats and crawl under the covers. No need to drench the sheets, a light sheen will do the trick.
Take herbal formulas appropriate to the symptoms. For a hot-type sickness, with sore throat, and feverishness, Yin Qiao or Forsythia 18 helps in the very early days. For cold-types with head and body aches and chills, Gui Zhi Tang tea or ginger tea followed by wrapping up warm can really knock it out.
Protect your neck. Wear a scarf and keep your ears covered, avoid drafts and getting chilled.
Other products have worked well for people I know in the past, such as Wellness Formula and Alpha CF, but as with herbal formulas, there always seem to be exceptions to the rule. The best bet is to do everything you can to keep the bugs from getting a foothold instead of relying on one magic potion while you continue to abuse your body.
Stay away from orange juice. It creates phlegm.
Take responsibility for your health and go to a doctor if symptoms are severe and things seem to be getting worse despite all your actions.

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