Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
Cold/Flu Season, Acupuncture & Tradition Chinese Medicine Recommendations to Supercharge Your Immune System
Since the onset of the annual cold-flu season, everyone is on high alert. Many of my patients have been inquiring about what they should be doing to stay healthy and to boost their immune systems at this critical time.
LET’S SUPERCHARGE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
So here are some recommendations from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective to help supercharge your immune system. And just to be absolutely transparent, these recommendations are not intended to prevent, cure or treat Covid-19. These tips below are simply meant to help your body be as resilient as possible during cold and flu season.
Get good quality sleep; try to go to bed no later than 10:30pm; practice good sleep hygiene
Avoid overworking and exhaustion
Get adequate exercise, plenty of fresh air and sunshine
focus on self-care, read, clean and organize your space, meditate
Foods to include in your diet:
Warm cooked foods that are easy to digest such as soups (chicken or vegetable soups) and stews (not cream based soups); plenty of warm/hot liquids; porridge or congee for breakfast; Pho; bone broth; ginger tea; lightly cooked green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cabbage, parsley); mushrooms (shitake, reishi, chaga, oyster, etc.); raw honey; lemon & other citrus; bell peppers; cooked carrots; sweet potatoes; turmeric; goji berries in hot water that you drink as a tea; fermented foods (such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, yogurt without sugar); berries; chlorella; garlic; eat plenty of protein like lean meat, fish, eggs and beans
Foods to limit in your diet: cold raw foods; damp foods such as dairy products, refined sugars and gluten; too much caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages; artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose; processed fats such as margarine, trans-fats, fried foods, rancid oils; preservatives; artificial colourings and flavourings; processed foods
Eat regularly but don’t overeat to give your digestion a break between meals so that it could work optimally
Don’t skip breakfast. In TCM, it’s recommended to eat at the same time each day. In TCM, the spleen and stomach are the organ systems involved in digestion and work best at certain times of the day according to the TCM organ clock. The stomach time is 7 to 9am, which is the best time to consume a good nutritious breakfast. The spleen time is 9 to 11am which is an important time to digest your breakfast and turn it into energy. Avoid eating too much between 7pm to 11pm because this is when the stomach and spleen organ systems are weakest.
Chew your food thoroughly
Ensure you’re having daily bowel movements
Vitamin D 400-800IU per day
High potency Vitamin C 1000-3000mg/day
Zinc 15 to 25mg/day
Probiotics boost overall immunity by providing beneficial bacteria for your gut. Take as directed on label.
*These are my average recommended dosages. Dosing can vary depending on the individual.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can boost the immune system and reduce stress. Here’s a research article that explains the science behind it if you’re interested.
Acupressure, like acupuncture, is a method of sending a signal to the nervous system to “turn on” its own self-healing or regulatory mechanisms, but instead of using needles, you are using the pressure of your fingertips. Acupressure uses the same meridians and points as acupuncture does and helps to correct functional imbalances.
You can follow this self-acupressure immune protocol at home:
Lower legs: ST36
On the outer calf, about four finger widths below the knee
This is the most important acupressure point on the body to boost the immune system and strengthen general weakness. It also benefits the digestive system.
Good for adults and for children
press firmly for 30 seconds – release and repeat five times. Do this on both sides.
Do not press if you are pregnant
located on the highest point of the muscle when your thumb and index finger are held together
use the tip of your finger pressing firmly downward and holding for 30 seconds. Release and repeat five more times. Do this on both hands.
on the foot
This point is between the big toe and the second toe. Massage firmly with up and down strokes for 1 minute. Do this on both feet.
This point calms the mind and relieves stress
located midway between the eyebrows
massage with your index finger in a circular motion for 30 seconds. Release and repeat five more times.
You can press on the above points several times a day.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Some formulas are specifically for boosting the immune system while others are for better sleep, reducing stress or benefiting digestive gut health which will all end with boosting the immune system. I’ve stocked some of my highly recommended immune and health boosting herbal medicines in my clinic.
Cupping acts as a reverse massage. Instead of pressing down on the muscles, the cupping acts like a suction for the muscles, pulling up and releasing toxins.
In the clinic, I continue to follow government guidelines and systems to ensure your ultimate safety. Frequently touched surfaces are sanitized after each patient including door handles, countertops and faucet handles. The clinic allows for social distancing with the private treatment rooms.
If you have an appointment with me, please remain home if you:
are experiencing any of the following symptoms (mild or severe): Fever; Cough; or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
have traveled to any area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19
live with someone who recently travelled to an area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19
have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms similar to the Flu or COVID-19