The Best Natural Way To Health During The Cold Weather Months
Dealing with the middle of the winter is never a pleasant experience. This time of year is called “the dead” of winter for a reason. Our body’s natural defenses are tested against freezing temperatures and copious amounts of snow. Practicing in the Detroit area, I find a large increase in patients complaining of a combination of pain, cold and/or flu symptoms.
In early 2016, the majority of my patient’s complaints are sinus congestion, post nasal drip, chronic cough and/or digestion problems. These complaints are usually caused by viral infections and/or opportunistic bacteria. My approach in treating these symptoms are different with every patient.
The first thing I ask is if my patients feel any chills and/or fever. Other inquires are needed to best assess the overall condition. From this information, I can determine the best acupuncture techniques, herbal combination or lifestyle recommendations we can use to efficiently help the body heal.
Pain complaints also increase during this time of year. Arthritis, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune pain symptoms tend to worsen with extreme weather conditions. In addition, patients with knee, hip or artificial implant surgery histories find their pain to worsen with cold weather. Slip/falls and car accidents also tend to occur more frequently this time of year.
Acupuncture does a tremendous job in treating both acute and chronic symptoms of this time of year. Acupuncture can immediately improve most symptoms and reduce healing time. Most acute cases are eliminated within 1-2 visits, depending on the severity. In more severe cases, I try to work with the patient to try to find the optimal treatment plan that can manage the concern and improve one’s quality of life.
As each season brings different problems, I have learned to increase my stock in specific herbal formulas during the winter months. In particular, herbal combinations that treat acute symptoms, support immune function, and “warm” the body.
If my patients are normally healthy, I recommend that they focus preventing illness and staying healthy. I often prescribe an herbal formula to help support their immune function. This approach works effectively with adults and children. One specific formula is called Jade Defense. This herbal formula is used to prevent common colds and seasonal allergies. This is a perfect formula if one of your family members or co-workers are sick and you want to prevent it spreading to others.
As a practitioner, I find myself with my own struggles to stay healthy. I can be exposed to a few sick patients a day. My first approach is prevention. Constant hand washing and keeping a super clean office helps. I also include a large dose of the Jade Defense formula as part of my daily supplement routine.
In cases when my patient do get ill, depending on the symptoms, I often find myself prescribing Minor Bupleurum formula (Xiao Chai Hu Tang). This herbal formula is extremely potent and flexible. This formula can treat chills, fever, bronchitis, cough, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, ear infections, stomach pain and vomiting. This formula has a few common herbs like ginger, licorice and jujube fruit.
I will often prescribe Restore the Lung (Bu Fei Tang). This is best used with patients that are easily fatigued and slow healing. Like the name implies, it can help restore proper lung health and function. This works great in chronic or post-acute bronchitis, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. This is a powerful formula, but is gentle enough for elderly and the chronically sick.
In general, I recommend my patients stay active, but to avoid over exhaustion. Avoid prolonged exposure to the cold and winter elements. If you are outside, make sure you protect your neck/head, wear proper footwear and stay hydrated. I encourage all patients to eat for the season. Slow cooked foods, soups, stews, root vegetable and warm beverages are a staple of my diet for this time of year.
Nature provides us with many resources. During these peak winter months, these resources are scares and harsh. It is best during this season to think preventively. Maintaining proper diet, not overworking, taking time to rest and avoiding the harsh winter environment are the best way to survive this season.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are elegant and powerful tools that can help tremendously this time year. These tools help manage and direct the bodies natural healing abilities, reducing your chances of getting sick and ensuring a speeding recovery if you do.
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