Been sick yet this year? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Since the cold weather started creeping in, more and more viruses have been spreading around. And with stress from work or school, your immunity is going to take a kicking time and time again this coming cold and flu season. Here are some tips on how you can get through your day while fighting off those nasty bugs at the same time:
1. Huang Qi it up. Astragalus root, known as Huang Qi to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, is excellent for boosting your immune system. It’s available in pill form at most health food stores, and is best to take in prevention of illness as opposed to taking it once you’re already sick (although technically it could help you get better faster). Be sure to read the label and even see a registered TCM practitioner before taking it, plus make sure you get a good quality brand that is mostly herb and little or no filler.
2. Get mushy. Mushrooms, especially Japanese varieties (e.g. reishi, shiitake, or enoki) are high in antioxidants and can help boost your immunity, plus add some nice flavour to your soups and other dishes. Be sure to just rinse and brush them off instead of soaking them before cooking – soaking them gets them waterlogged and will ruin the flavour of these healthful beauties.
3. Watch the working out. Depending on your level of energy, exercise may be beneficial or even possibly detrimental to your immune system. That is, while exercise and staying active generally helps improve your health, exercising too much can weaken your body and leave you susceptible to viruses. Try to gauge your activity levels: if they’re incredibly low or non-existent, do a just little bit more. If they’re high, give yourself an extra day off (of exercise) each week during cold and flu season.
4. Sleep it off. Nothing helps reduce your stress levels and boost your immune system more than getting a good night’s sleep. So do what you need to: cancel the night out with friends or take a half-day off from work if necessary, but get that rest that you sorely deserve, and need. Having trouble sleeping? Read this article on how massage therapy can help you get better sleep.
5. Naturalize. Natural medicines like acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are great for boosting your immunity, plus so much more. One of the best things about seeing a registered TCM practitioner is that they can help diagnose your own individual pattern, and thus cater a treatment towards your own individual needs. So while astragalus might help most of us prevent illness, it’s not for everyone and a TCM practitioner can give you precisely what you personally need to boost your immunity.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner