Preventing Seasonal Illness with Oriental Medicine
Autumn is a time of change. It is the time of year when nature prepares to “let go”. The leaves fall from the tress, temperatures dip and the sun fades quicker as days seem longer. Long ago, people lived their lives according to the seasons. The summer season was a time of work, while winters were spent as a time of rest. Villagers would spend the spring time planting crops and the fall was time to harvest and focus on stillness. These days, through the advance of technology, we are still able to plow away at work in the winter season.
Part of the reason most people are sick in the winter time is because biologically, our bodies are wired to slow down at this time of year. When we don’t slow our pace and stress piles up (i.e. the holidays), our immune systems cannot keep up and we fall ill. Most healthy people get one cold a year. Partially due to temperature variations and our bodies not being able to regulate our internal thermometers quickly enough. Some ways to help your body not get ill is to allow yourself to be exposed to the elements. Keep yourself warm and shut off the air conditioning and heat in your home and in your car. When you are cool or warm and step outside into the changing temperatures the body goes into a state of shock. Like diving into ice cold water, your body goes through chills and the blood in our veins constricts and does not flow as freely.
Another preventative effort to outwit cold and flu season is to change your diet. Summer months and places where it is hot and dry should include a diet of fresh, raw foods. Things like salads, nuts and berries help keep the internal body temperature cool. Although many people get “colds” in the summer months, this can be attributed to too much heat in the system. In order for the body to dispel heat, the pores open up and if you are in air conditioning, too much cold gets in (thus chills). In the fall/winter season, a diet of warm foods is best. Things that are baked, soups and hot meals (avoiding red meat and salads which slow digestion and are cold in nature) work well. Avoiding over eating heavy foods (like dairy, red meat and soy) help the bodies constantly maintain the flow of energy through your body. Don’t be fooled if the sun is out during the winter months, the wind is more active and leaves the body cold. Prevention is the best plan for anyone who wants to feel great all season long.
Acupuncture helps the body stay in balance and is able to kick out a cold in the beginning stages. Even after a full blown cold has set in, acupuncture speeds up recovery time and assists the body in its natural defenses. The best time for a visit to your acupuncturist is when you feel like you are about to get sick. It is unfortunate that most of American society is out of touch with nature. We no longer depend on our own crops to eat, nor do we follow the rules of the seasons in our lifestyles. But understanding why our bodies shift so drastically helps us understand steps to take when we begin to feel “under the weather”.
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