Now is the time to boost your Immune System

As we begin the track back to school we get to start thinking about Fall (even if we don’t quite feel it yet. Along with its natural beauty and abundance fall also marks the beginning of the cold season. If you are looking to boost your immune system naturally this year my first and best tip is to make an appointment with your acupuncturist. After that here are the top 10 immune-boosting tips I usually give my patients.

Immune Boosting Foods, Supplements & Herbal Blends

  1. Bone Broth – Check out my post, “Why You Need Bone Broth” to get the recipe for this amazing health tonic. It can be taken by the cupful as a daily food supplement or added to soups and stews. You can even use it like you would stock to cook vegetables, meats and grains.
  2. Cultured Foods – Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and kombucha are filled with healthy probiotics. These foods are naturally fermented which boosts their nutritional value and makes them easier to digest. It is important that they are naturally fermented and unpasteurized so their immune-boosting probiotics remain in tact. Try to consume cultured foods or drinks at each meal.
  3. Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables – cook as many fresh foods as possible. Make a trip to the Farmers Market to find the freshest seasonal foods.
  4. Eggs – Good eggs from pasture raised hens are filled with nutrients. They contain vital proteins including a wide variety of amino acids, all the B vitamins, vitamins E, A and D, as well as some difficult to get minerals like choline, iodine and selenium. They are also a rich source of omega 3s, carotenoids, biotin, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron – just to name a few. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthy immune system
  5. Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) – As one of the most potent immune boosting supplements it is filled with omega 3’s, as well as the critical fat soluble vitamins A and D. It has a powerful antioxidant effect and reduces inflammation in the entire body. This nutrient dense super food should be taken year-round but the dosage can be doubled or tripled an during illness to boost the immune system.
  6. Probiotics – Ideally these should be consumed daily as part of your healthy diet, but when your system is down add a high potency probiotic supplement. You may also want to add a probiotic supplement if you have digestive or skin issues, allergies, asthma, emotional stress, recent use of antibiotics, or general malaise. It is also important to note that babies taking formula should be supplemented with an infant probiotic.
  7. Vitamin C – Best taken through fresh seasonal foods, but during the cold season you may want to add a whole food based supplement. I love the ones derived from Acerola and/or Elderberry.
  8. Vitamin D – Take a high dose for a few days during or at the first sign of weakness to ward off a cold or flu. It may also be taken during any illness to eliminate or reduce the severity of symptoms.
  9. Immune + (or Yu Ping Feng San) – I strongly recommend this for people who are prone to colds and influenza or who work at, attend, or have kids who attend school (especially pre-school aged children).
  10. Echinacea – Prevents colds and influenza, reduces the number of infections, limits the duration of colds and influenza.

What to do if you catch the dreaded cold or flu:

Despite your best efforts you may be coming down with a cold or the flu. Here are the best remedies to take during what we in Chinese Medicine call a “Wind Attack.”

  1. Jing Feng Bai Du San or Lonicera Complex (modified Yin Qiao San).
  2. Oscillococcinum – Homeopathic to take at the first sign of flu-like symptoms.
  3. Cold Calm – Homeopathic to take at the first sign of common cold.
  4. Continue with a your immune boosting foods and supplements and increase doses as necessary.
  5. Acupuncture Treatment – acupuncture itself can halt, eliminate or at least reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms.

The supplements, herbal formulas, homeopathics and essential oils are all available here at Points of Health. Call to order, make and appointment or stop by the clinic to shop.

Natural Cures for a Cold

Summer…ahhh or (ARGGHHH), depending on how you look at it. While on some level it seems inevitable due in part to the parties, the irregular hours, the schedules, the travel, the diets, the camps and the camping, a summer cold can really put a kink in your plans. Here are my favorite tips to help resolve that pesky summer cold in a couple days instead of a couple weeks.

  1. Acupuncture – helps activate and support the immune system as well as prevent secondary infections (the most common being sinus, ear and respiratory infections).
  2. Herbal Medicine – my favorite go to formula for colds/flus is Jing Fang Bai Du San. I always keep a bottle on hand to take as soon as I get the first whisper of a cold, or even if someone around me (perhaps a certain toddler) is sick. Of course, working with an herbalist will help you find just the right formula.
  3. Magnesium + Sea Salt + Essential Oil Baths – this tip embraces the diaphoretic technique aka “sweat it out.” Just draw a really hot bath and toss in a nice handful full of sea salts and magnesium salts, then add a few drops of essential oils such as lemon, lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint. Soak in the water for 15-20 minutes, then wrap up in something warm and let the sweat do its thing.
  4. Cupping – I was lucky enough recently to have some cupping done following a hot bath and it made all the difference; sometimes just cupping is enough to avoid the cold altogether.
  5. Gua Sha – I have found this to be invaluable, especially for people prone to sinus infections. Use the back of a spoon or gut she tool (I love using my jade heart) to massage (scrape) alongside the nose, the cheeks, the eyebrow and the forehead.
  6. Herbal Tea – every mom, dad and doctor will tell you the same thing: the key to getting better and feeling better is staying hydrated. I know I must sound like a broken record about this one since I overheard my daughter telling one of her stuffed animals who had caught a cold, “the most important thing when we are sick is to STAY HYDRATED, now let me make you some tea.” My favorites are ginger, peppermint, throat coat and cold care.
  7. Wellness Tonic – I make this with fresh ginger and lemon, apple cider vinegar, honey and a pinch of pink salt. I make a big batch in the morning in my French press, add boiling water and drink it throughout the day either at room temperature or with some additional boiling water to heat it up.
  8. Cold Calm – is homeopathic formula that works great for adults and kids.
  9. Nasal Rinsing – I recommend that most people do this regularly even when they are well as a cold/flu preventative and at least twice a day during a cold or allergies. I like using my Xlear Sinus Rinse, but you can also use the nasal spray or even a Neti Pot.
  10. REST – no matter how hard it seems to slow down and rest, if you don’t give yourself a bit of a time out to get well you might be looking at weeks or even months of recovery.

I will follow up this post with another about nutrition and supplements during colds/flus but for now suffice it to say Bone Broth. While remedies are safe for both kids and adults, I always recommend consulting with or working under the guidance of licensed acupuncturist or health care professional to determine the safest and most effective treatment for you or your child.