An Ounce of Prevention for Immune Wellness

As Late Summer draws to a close, it’s time to plan ahead for immune wellness – the cold and flu season is almost here!  The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies to immune wellness.  The most important thing that you can do for immune wellness is to strengthen your body’s ability to respond to stress before you become ill. Healthy lifestyle habits are vital to immune wellness and resilience.  This article provides some key tips to help you stay healthy as cold and flu season approaches.

Some people may need extra help to strengthen and maintain immune wellness, above and beyond maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  If any of the following applies to you, you may wish to consider natural treatment for immune wellness:

  • Are you undergoing additional stress from life transition, such as death of a loved one, divorce, or retirement?  Loss and grief can impact immune wellness.
  • Do you work in an environment where you are frequently exposed to pathogens, such as a hospital, school, daycare center or prison?
  • Do you have a history of frequent illness?  Do you get every cold that comes along, and then have trouble shaking it?  Do you have other health conditions that make your colds worse, such as Autumn allergies or chronic sinus issues?

Five Element acupuncture, nutritional therapy and Chinese herbal medicine all offer effective ways of boosting the immune system and avoiding illness.  If you do become ill, appropriate treatment can help you recover more quickly.

Internal Terrain of the Body & Mind

Chinese medicine and Five Element acupuncture theory view the body/mind as an ecosystem, and Western medicine is slowly coming around to share this point of view.  Many pathogens and micro-organisms are ever-present in our environment.  They only cause illness if they are able to take hold due to an imbalance or weakness elsewhere in the system.  

Even Louis Pasteur, the father of germ theory, is said to have agreed  “The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.  In terms of immune wellness, maintaining balance and resilience in the internal terrain of the body/mind far outweighs simply “fighting” the microbes with vaccines and medicines.  

The body/mind has a natural ability to heal and restore health.  Treatment approaches for immune wellness in Chinese medicine and Five Element acupuncture work with the body’s natural abilities to heal.  The goal is always to restore balance and harmony to the entire ecosystem of the body/mind.

Health Tips for Immune Wellness

Here are a few key tips from Five Element acupuncture and Chinese medicine theory, for strengthening the internal terrain and boosting immune wellness:

  • As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, get extra rest and sleep.
  • Don’t over do it if you feel fatigued.  Like the rest of nature, our energy returns to its root as Late Summer  (Earth Element) gives way to Autumn (Metal Element).
  • Continue to exercise outdoors.  This helps your body adapt to the changing seasons.
  • Dress properly outdoors, and especially keep the upper back and neck warm.  (Chinese medicine theory says “the wind enters through the back” where the lungs are close to the surface of the body.)
  • Maintain good hygiene.  Take care to wash hands and keep surfaces clean, especially if you work in a school, hospital or other environment where you are frequently exposed to viral illnesses.
  • Eat a nutrient-dense whole foods diet.  Especially, avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates.  Cut back or eliminate dairy.  Carbohydrates, sugars and dairy tend to be mucus-forming and create an undesirable condition in the body, which the Chinese call “dampness.”
  • Use a nasal saline wash, such as a neti pot, daily to remove dead tissue, pathogens and mucus from the nose and sinus passages.

Everyone falls ill with a cold or respiratory ailment from time to time, no matter how well we care for ourselves.  If you do fall ill, listen to your body and give it what it asks for.  If you feel you are fighting off a virus, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and cut back on non-essential activities and exercise.  Remember that the body will always do its best to heal.

Inner Works Acupuncture is a Five Element acupuncture clinic in the Alphabet District of northwest Portland, offering natural treatment strategies for immune wellness and chronic health conditions.  For more information or to book an appointment, call 503-227-2127.