Flu season is upon us but, despite what you may be hearing, you do not need to panic. As concerns mount about the possible pandemic of virulent influenza the question is what can one do to prepare for the onslaught. Flu drugs such as Tamiflu are one possibility however, what if the cupboard is bare or the drug has minimal influence. With regards to the flu shot, the problem is the difficulty in predicting which strain of the flu will present in any given year. Whether the threat be a deadly pandemic virus or the seasonal flu virus that we are all accustomed to, preparation begins with the basics. Are you eating properly? Is your lifestyle balanced and healthy? When one works from the ground up, the innate resources are tapped into that enable our immune system to function as it was meant to. A regular routine of moderate exercise is recommended. Dietary suggestions include whole grains foods, quality fruits and vegetables. Eat regular meals incorporating simple food combinations. Don’t forget the importance of environment and mental health. Toxicity includes both physical toxins and emotional toxins. Find and incorporate methods to cope with high stress situations in your life. In addition, develop good hygienic habits including washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.
Foods that assist in building the immune system include selenium, which is found on the outer coatings of whole grains in the form of bran and germ. Spelt is an old world grain coming more into vogue as people savor it’s nutty sweet flavor and recognize the positive effects on improving digestive processes. It is rich in nutrients being higher in protein, fat and fiber than most varieties of wheat, and works to enhance the immune system. The blue-green micro-algae in the forms of spirulina and chlorella are valuable additions to your diet when considering immune building actions. Spirulina, rich in chlorophyll content, is nurturing, tonifying and helps to overcome deficiencies and build the body defenses. Chlorella is somewhat comparable to spirulina, although it is renowned for it’s tough outer cell wall, which contains compounds related to those found in bacteria that fortify immunity and protect the body. Omega 3’s, following their conversion to hormone like substances called prostaglandins, assist in regulating the function of every organ and cell in the body and are essential to building a healthy immune system.
In Chinese Medicine we speak of strengthening our protective or “wei” qi. Wei qi is that aspect of our lives that protects us from viruses, weather influences and diverse toxins in our lives. Our bodily health is determined by a combination of both prenatal and postnatal energies in our lives. We cannot change what we were born with but we can have some influence on what happens after that point in time. Wei qi is derived from the essential substances in food and the air that we breathe. It is considered to be the most vigorous energy in our bodies. In the daytime it nourishes and skin and muscles and the outer most areas of our bodies- the yang aspect, providing protection while opening and closing the pores and regulating the sweat glands. At nighttime it moves deeper to the interior of our body-the yin aspect, where its actions are prominent in the internal organs, circulating and balancing the essential energies.
Chinese herbs and acupuncture help to boost the immune system, thereby working either to avoid invasion of viruses or to eliminate the virus faster once it has invaded. Unlike vaccines, Chinese herbal therapies and acupuncture are not specific for a viral strain but work to provide a general immune boosting response or ameliorate some of the symptoms. Be proactive. Prevention is the best medicine. You may also like to consider homeopathic remedies such as Influenzinum and Thymuline. These homeopathics are administered as a measure of prevention at the beginning of the winter, or as a curative measure once the flu has taken hold.
After all is said and done, we go back to the basics. Protect your neck and head from the ravages of wind and cold, which Chinese Medicine consider to be pernicious influences that can precipitate the onset of cold and flu symptoms. Follow that with a good dose of your mom’s chicken soup and you’re ahead of the game. Enjoy the recipes.