Thursday, October 9, 2014

S.A.V.E.D.: 5 Steps to Knock Out a Virus Before It Starts

In Chinese Medicine it is said that equanimity of mind is the path to health.  For me that always brings to mind images of placid farmers living according to the seasons, working in their rice fields, blissfully free of alarm clocks, cell phones, and deadlines.  Though equanimity of mind is not impossible today.  It just takes some mindfulness.  And even as the chaos of modern living can sometime take us out of calm presence, there are a few tried and true ways back to health.  Some of these are traditional Chinese Medicine, some are tips I've picked up in my practice, and some are clearly Western.  They are the steps that work!

This is my handy 5-pronged approach I share with my patients after an acupuncture treatment, which is excellent for staying healthy when illness looks imminent.  Remember my acronym S.A.V.E.D.  Sweat, Awareness, Vitamins & Herbs, Ears, and Diet

1. Sweat.  As soon as you feel the tell tale signs, sweat.  Climb in a hot tub with 2 cups of epsom salts, a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and a cup of hot yarrow, peppermint or other diaphoretic tea to drink.  The best Chinese herbal formula for this early stage is Gui Zhi Tang, which is easily available from your acupuncturist.  At Lutea, we have an exceptional formula.  Stay in, drinking your tea until you are sweating then climb out and wrap up in blankets and go to bed, careful to stay warm. And get some sleep.

2. Awareness of your body is key.  If you don't already know your body's signs of impending illness, pay attention.  It's when you first start to feel the scratchy throat, the chills, that is the time to take action.  The faster this happens, the better off you are.  Pushing through is no nobler in the long run, especially when you find yourself miserable for weeks.  It's much harder to knock out a cold or flu that is firmly entrenched.

3.  Vitamins & Herbs.  Vitamins D, C, and zinc can help boost the immune system and keep you healthy.  If you feel the first signs of a cold you can raise your Vitamin D3 level to up to 10,000 IUs a day for an immune pump, especially as we aren't getting as much sunlight as the days shorten.  Vitamin C 1000 mg, and zinc 8mg per day.  I already mentioned Gui Zhi Tang, and there are also formulas more suited for the feverish, sore throat stage like Yin Qiao Tang.  There are a few western herbs that can be helpful too.  Olive Leaf, Colloidal Silver, and Oregano oil are all good anti-virals to stock for the winter season. 

4. Ears.  Often the ears are the first place a virus begins.  So mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol in a dropper bottle and drop 3 drops in each ear until you hear it bubbling down the canal.  Then quickly turn the head and dry the ear.  Do this on each side at the first sign of illness. This can double as a way to remove water from the ears after swimming or bathing.

5. Diet.  Eat healthy whole foods. Avoid processed food.  Also avoid refined sugar and alcohol which weaken the immune system dramatically and dairy which increases phlegm in the body.  So avoid these as much as possible.  This is an easy one to try out.  Foods that are healing to the body are steamed or sauteed vegetables, and even better are soups and stews.  Especially including slightly spicy flavored vegetables which stimulate the lungs like ginger, garlic,  onions, and radishes.  Lemon and honey in hot tea can also be soothing.

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