My brother likes to say that if a massive pandemic were to hit the United States – another plague of sorts – that I would be the first one down. Not a fair assessment, I say, since I actually went a few years without a major cold or flu, but I do get his point. I used to catch every cold or flu when I lived in our native Massachusetts; a place with extreme seasonal changes and a history of being drafty and chilly during the down months. Moving to New York City actually seemed to boost my immunity, and working with health practitioners allowed me to use tactics to stave off the flu before it came knocking on my door. And despite my tendency to catch things, I would find myself most years avoiding the flu shot.
When I came to work at the Yinova Center I noticed that none of our practitioners get the flu shot. What’s more they never seem to get sick even though they’re regularly exposed to viruses. When I asked our Clinic Director Jill Blakeway about this, she told me that she’s not against people getting the flu shot and considers it a personal choice. However she prefers to boost her immune system instead of getting the vaccine. She also mentioned that she takes anti-viral herbs if she feels she’s been exposed to someone else’s cold or flu.
Now, back to me. All this talk of the flu shot and whether or not to get it must have sent my body a message to just go out and get the flu already, because that’s what happened. I am writing this on the tail end of dealing with a nasty flu virus the past eight days, and there are many things I have learned in that time.
First, I was perfectly healthy but exposed myself to people carrying the flu virus, thus making me susceptible. Secondly, I didn’t take our practitioners’ mass advice and neglected to take steps to stop the illness dead in it’s tracks or mitigate my risk for getting sick in the first place. I earned the flu, I guess. But you don’t have to suffer. If you’re reading this, and the flu has eluded you thus far, there are things you can do to keep your defenses high.
Take an immune boosting bath
General well-being advice from most of our acupuncturists always includes “take a bath with ___.” I always thought that was because I am high strung. But it turns out, a calming bath can also build your immune system into a flu flighting machine. A warm bath with essential oils can help you push colds and flu away, but can also work as a remedy to clear out your passages if you do happen to catch something.
Run a warm bath and add a half cup of epsom salts and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Pick up 100% pure essential oils of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary and add five drops of each. Sit, breathe in, and relax. This will all come together to relieve your weary sinuses and give your defenses a boost. The oils can be found in most health food stores, and the epsom salt can be found at any local drug store.
Three cold and flu-fighting formulas come to mind. The first is Gan Mao Ling formula. The Yinova Center stocks this formula and the staff will take it multiple times daily at the very earliest signs of illness. Jade Screen on the other hand is used as a preventative and our Yinova team take it all through the winter to ward off colds and flu. Adrographis formula is more of a heavy hitting, antimicrobial formula and is the remedy of choice if a cold or flu becomes entrenched. If you’re not sure which to take, as all have considerable benefits for preventing seasonal illness, consult your acupuncturist and find out what is best for you.
Take additional supplements and measures
Supplements such as Zinc, Vitamin D or Vitamin C as part of your normal regimen, or included in your daily multi-vitamin, will build your defenses to airborne illnesses. Of course, other general practices you can incorporate into your daily routine include washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, staying hydrated, adding ginger to your diet (which is evidenced to fight viral infections), getting enough sleep, managing stress and taking precautions around sick people.