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Breathing…the Flu…and Acupuncture

Author: Jill Ellen Smith 1 December 2010 No Comment

Here it is again. Flu season. Sneezy, headachy, sinusy flu season.

The cold weather, especially when combined with dampness, sets the stage. The lifestyle

of most Americans finishes the job. Winter’s common cold is quite enough to disrupt our

lives, but when it interacts with underlying respiratory conditions, it will wreak havoc on

a person’s body and immune system.

Lets take a closer look at what I’m talking about.

According to Chinese Medicine, the most common pathogens that warrant close attention are  dampness, cold, heat, and wind. These pathogens will render our bodies vulnerable to the pathogens most Americans think of as germs. These pathogens can be produced by our own bodies, but the conditions surrounding the common cold are more commonly caused when they enter from the environment. Yes, you read me right!

For example, wind and cold can literally enter your body on a cold winter day…especially under certain conditions. If you go outside and expose yourself (especially your neck and throat area) to the cold air after sweating at the gym, your skin

will be less able to prevent that cold from entering into your body. Ever notice how many cold and flu symptoms begin with that stiff neck and headache? Those feelings are the wind and cold settling into your body at that level.

When a person is not getting enough sleep, not eating nutritionally enough, not drinking enough water, or under too much stress…her immune system becomes less able to protect her from these pathogens. Have I just described the lifestyle of most Americans?? I think so.

Additionally, Americans tend to NOT live according to the seasons. You knowhow animals begin to hibernate as soon as the cold weather sets in? They sleep more and slow down. But no, not us. Our industrialized society allows (and encourages) us to live the dark seasons as if it is summer. We work long hours, we stay up too late, and we will work out at the gym in the same manner as we do in the summer. Overall, our diets tend to be similar in summer and winter.

Ideally, we should be slowing down, getting to bed earlier, sleeping a bit later, eating warmer, denser foods, and having less intense workouts at the gym. We push ourselves way too much and don’t honor our bodies’ natural needs. This lifestyle renders us vulnerable to the elements.

A person with underlying respiratory immune system challenges such as chronic allergies, sinusitis, asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis (just to name a few) will be more

vulnerable and probably experience more severe symptoms when the common cold/flu

hits.

I work with many people with these underlying conditions. I find acupuncture to be amazingly effective in supporting not only the immune system, but also the overall

respiratory process. The geniuses who discovered acupoints 4,000 years ago have provided today’s acupuncturist with a variety of acupuncture points and treatments that impact a person’s ability to breath better, have clear sinuses, dry up chronic nasal drainage, and rid sinus headaches. I’ve had chronic lung patients enter my treatment room wheezing and in some respiratory discomfort and leave the treatment calmer and breathing deeper and more effectively.

Cupping (the use of suction cups on the body) is often effective to reduce symptoms of

a respiratory infection. Commonly these painless suction cups are used on the back to provide what your acupuncturist would call “release to the exterior” of the pathogen causing you misery (usually cold and wind). I will often even use the suction cups to

give a gentle massage to the upper back before I remove them as well.

Moxibustion (the use of an herb that is heated and then removed) on specific acupuncture points is also a very powerful tool in treating respiratory conditions.

I recently treated a woman with chronic sinus congestion and allergies for the last 30 years. After a few treatments, her sinus and respiratory congestion discomfort had decreased to a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

My 67-year-old patient with pulmonary fibrosis reports easing in her breathing and a calmer feeling (which greatly impacts her breathing as well) after her acupuncture treatments. She comes each week carrying her oxygen tank and leaves feeling better than when she arrived.

In general, unless a patient has a fever or severe cold symptoms, I encourage them to come in for treatment so we can facilitate the exiting of the cold from their bodies.

As you can see, acupuncture is of great support to the respiratory system, whether you are in acute discomfort from a cold, or in a chronic struggle due to an underlying condition that needs management. Good nutrition, adequate water intake, appropriate exercise, and acupuncture are the best preventative tools available to you. I look forward

to offering you coaching and acupuncture through the winter months.

I want to remind all of my readers that I now take most insurance.

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