Summer colds are notorious for sticking around for weeks and tend to have stronger symptoms than the colds and flus in the winter. Not only does this ruin summer plans, but they tend to catch us by surprise. We have learned to be preventative and ready for winter colds but in the summer we tend to let our guard down. Summer colds are avoidable as long as you know what to watch out for.
According to Chinese Medicine, bacteria and viruses are not what we need to worry about when trying to prevent an illness. Rather, we should concern ourselves with keeping our constitution strong so that when (not if) we are exposed to those pesky invaders, our body is strong enough to successfully fight back without producing symptoms. Germs that cause disease will only thrive, if the host (you) is not strong enough to keep it in check. Therefore, your best bet for prevention is to keep your immune system and your overall constitution strong. Here are some simple and effective ways to take control of your well being and strengthen your body’s natural healing abilities:
- Maintain Abundant Healing Energy or “Qi”: Don’t exhaust yourself. Eat well, get sufficient sleep and rest when your body tells you to. Maintaining an awareness of your body by listening to small cues such as a slight tickle in your throat or a chill will help you to stay alert to subtle symptoms before they flare up to an illness. Preventative practices such as herbal teas and acupuncture will help support your healing Qi.
- Take Care of Your Lungs: According to Chinese Medicine, the lungs are a key player in the immune system. They are also the first to fall ill when exposed to a pathogen that the Qi is too weak to fight off. Support your lungs by practicing deep breathing exercises, rest your voice if your lifestyle requires a lot of talking and keep your chest and upper back covered.
- Go Easy on Your Digestion: Although it may be the season for cook-outs and ice cream, do your best to continue making good food choices. Our digestive system has a strong influence on our immunity so it is important to take care of it.
- Try to reserve time to sit down for small meals at around the same time each day. This will set up a routine that your digestive system can anticipate and prepare for.
- Be sure to not consume an excessive amount of raw, frozen or chilled foods. It may be summer, but don’t be afraid to have soup from time to time. Avoid excessive consumption of salads, raw fruit and frozen smoothies for your routine meals. If that sounds like your typical summer diet, make small changes by keeping fruit out of the refrigerator and not adding ice or frozen fruit to smoothies.
- Stay Covered: This is by far one of the most important factors for staying well in the summer! It is getting hot outside, which leads to air conditioned shops, restaurants and office buildings that feel like an ice box. According to Chinese Medicine, letting your temperature yo-yo will weaken immunity which in turn makes us vulnerable to pathogens. This is especially true for the back of the neck, upper back and chest (where the lungs are). If you feel yourself catch a chill, cover up immediately. The energy meridians that flow through the back of the neck are important in maintaining healthy immunity, if they are chilled and wet, they become weakened leaving you vulnerable.
- At Home Remedies:
- Astragalus is a helpful preventative herb to support your immune system. However, it is not the best choice once you have already come down with something.
- Soups with a garlic based broth. For example: miso soup and some Thai soups.
- Netii Pot to flush out any inhaled pathogens that may be caught in the mucosa of the sinuses.
What to do for Active Colds:
- Goldenseal & Echinacea – these two herbs can be taken together and contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. Take them in an alcohol-based tincture for increased potency.
- Avoid all sugar, dairy and ice – According to Chinese Medicine, these are phlegm-producing foods and immunity suppressors. Avoid them when you’re sick. Yes, this includes Orange Juice!
- Homemade Chicken Soup – add garlic to the broth for a well-balanced meal that is easy to digest.
- Bee Pollen Throat Sprays – use these to coat the throat and relieve pain without the use of harsh chemicals and additives.
- Chinese Herbal Formulas – A safe and effective way to treat symptoms such as sore throat, sinus congestion, sinus infection and the first signs of a cold. Chinese Herbal formulas can be customized for precise treatment. Formula ingredients and dosages may vary at different stages of an illness. Many herbs contain antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be considered as an alternative to harsh pharmaceutical antibiotics.
- Cupping – Cupping is a therapy that creates a suction over the skin. When done properly, cupping can help to shake loose phlegm that is stuck in the chest or to subdue excessive coughing.
- Acupuncture Treatments – to maintain wellness, promote healthy circulation and elimination of waste, help expel pathogens once they have manifested and recover after an illness.