The movie Contagion which is currently out in the theaters is ideally suited to make us all aware of one of our biggest fears. Infection used to be the scourge of our populations killing people without apparent regard for any social class. Our immune systems are one of our biggest vulnerabilities as humans. Should an infection choose take up residence in our bodies, we seem helpless against it. The best protection is prevention, taking good care of our bodies all year long and paying attention to them helps our immune systems be strong.
I continue to be against the flu shot. It doesn’t make the body stronger or healthier and it may contribute to more illness later. Our bodies are always at war. Getting ready for the next attacker, our immune system is constantly scavenging to find things that don’t belong in our blood stream. In this high stress day and age, we have plenty of things to fight. If you keep adding to the pile, its like sending in more troops from the enemy, they have a better chance of breaking down the walls.
Chinese medicine says that cold weather, wind, and rain enter the body via points on the neck just below the ear. Grandmother was right – you can prevent illness by staying warm and covering your neck. Its not quite as simple as that but being aware of the environment you are in is the basic premise of maintaining your health in any season.
The flu shot is made each year based on a prediction of which virus will come across the ocean from Asia to our continent – its kind of like a beauty contest, only the top three get chosen. There are thousands of viral strains with new ones mutating every day. Last year they guessed wrong and the shot didn’t protect against the virus that arrived. In a person with weak immunity the shot can stress the system more, possibly leading to worse illness. If you have allergies, your immune system is already hyperactive, adding one more stimulant, could make your allergies worse.
When you think about your immune system, think of it as your army, ready to fight against whatever comes in that doesn’t belong. Sound familiar? Rather than beating it down, help it out with as much support as you can give it.
Each season represents a different organ system and there are unique challenges to taking optimal care of that organ. Fall is the time of the lungs. They are responsible for the entire immune system and the respiratory system. A good prevention plan in fall includes taking immune building herbs and doing lung-strengthening treatments. Winter is the time of the kidneys – the source of vitality and energy. Preventing illness now includes getting plenty of rest, keeping your body warm, and avoiding stress.
Paying attention to your body and using the environment as a guide at all times of year is a basic tenet in Chinese medicine. You can keep your natural state of balance by using common sense. Listen to your body and watch what is going on in your life.
This winter you can stay healthy by taking medicinal mushrooms, such as Host Defense by MyCommunity. Your local health food store has many other mushroom formulas to choose from. Make sure you are taking plenty of Vitamin D, vitamin C, a good multi-vitamin, and essential fatty acids such as fish or flax oil. Next fall; begin a flu prevention program early by boosting your vitamin intake and using lung-building herbs including astragalus. Acupuncture can help your body have smooth seasonal transitions.
If you start to feel ill, take action immediately. Double the amount of vitamin C you take and start taking an herbal anti-flu formula that has Echinacea, goldenseal or Isatis in it. Some available products are: Wellness formula, Yin Qiao – a Chinese herbal formula, or Sinus and Respiratory by New Chapter. Take the herbs every two hours. Gargle with hydrogen peroxide. Wash your hands frequently. Take time off and get a little extra rest. Don’t say to yourself….”I have to much to do, I’m going to keep on doing.” More detail is available on my web site at www.hearttoheartmedicalcenter.com.
For those of us who are anti-war activists, the war starts inside our bodies. Become an anti-war activist at home first. Help your body be at peace.