Immune Tips for Winter


Winter brings with it the challenge of first avoiding sickness and then if you do catch a bug, recovering as soon as possible. There is much that can be done to bolster immunity and promote a prompt and full recovery.

The old wives tale of avoiding a chill is a basic understanding in the Chinese medical model. Illness occurs when the immune system cannot keep on top of one of the viruses which are always around. For some people a sudden temperature change is enough to weaken their immune response which can lead to illness.   If you are prone to winter chills resulting in illness then keep a more even body temperature by closing open windows overnight and do not walk on cold floors with bare feet.  Dress appropriately for the weather conditions.  A scarf around the neck is not only comforting on a windy or cold day it also makes it harder to get sick.

Address any lingering health conditions that can weaken your immunity and increase susceptibility to colds and flu. Probiotics are critical for anyone who has had a recent course of antibiotics or suffers from ongoing digestive disturbances. Fresh ginger tea is an excellent daily drink to bolster immunity and is a key Chinese herbal medicine for warming the lungs. Zinc and Vitamin C support the function of the important immune cells neutrophils and natural killer cells, essential in fighting viral illness. There are also many good herbal medicines to enhance the immune response but professional advice should be obtained to ensure that particular herbs are suitable for your particular case.

Chinese medicine has a range of specific approaches to enhance immunity and treat viral illness depending on the individual. Acupuncture often combined with moxa is ideal to support immune function and is a popular recuperation treatment for colds, flu’s, and glandular fever.  Cupping is often used in the earliest stage of a cold and can tip the balance in favour of the immune system.

Some people are especially affected by viral illness and just don’t recover fully. This is especially common among people who are always on the go and push themselves even when ill. The result may be as simple as a lingering cough or more prominent asthma following a cold or influenza;  ongoing fatigue such as following Ross River Virus; or fatigue and glands that keep going up and down with sore throats such as following glandular fever. Chinese medicine understands that in these cases the body was either not strong enough to fully resolve the illness, or the body has simply used up its reserve capacity and has no stamina left.  Slowing down and taking time to recover is essential. Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine have specific strategies to assist the body to resolve lingering illness and support stamina and endurance and find a path back to energy and wellness.