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Avoid This Year's Cold & Flu Season

It's that time of year again: the weather is temperamental, changing from downpours of freezing rain one day to wind-filled spring-like temperatures the next. While we begin to appreciate the days of warmer weather we have between those filled with a wintry mix, this is also the time that colds and the flu are on the rise. As the weather is constantly shifting, our bodies are also constantly trying to shift, in order to stay in homeostasis based on the weather. Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies are unable to shift efficiently. Sometimes our bodies become worn out from shifting and switching gears so frequently. This leaves us more vulnerable to catching a cold or the flu. Just look at recent flu outbreaks in the nation for this year; a lot of states are already reporting high numbers of cold and flu outbreaks.

However, just because the weather is temperamental and these nasty pathogens are lurking around out there, doesn't mean you have to lie down and give in to getting sick. We may not be able to control the weather (or whether our colleagues show up to work with a cold!), but we can control how we take care of our health - which can make us either more or less vulnerable to catching a cold. Acupuncture treatments are one way that we can take care of our bodies and our health in a positive manner.

It has been proven that using acupuncture as a preventative approach to colds and the flu can reduce the incidence of catching a cold in the first place, as well as reduce the duration of one if you are unfortunate enough to get sick. Acupuncture works by rebalancing the body's various systems, including enhancement of the immune system. Acupuncture helps to bring our body back into alignment as well as bolster what was already there. This is because the insertion of acupuncture needles into specific areas on the body help to start a cascade of biophysiological reactions. The parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest") is turned on, sending out various neurotransmitters, hormones and other chemicals to help bring our body into a homeostatic state. One in which we can fight off a cold that is trying to invade or help expel one that has already wreaked some havoc (sore throat and runny nose, anyone?).

When your body is able to properly rest, engaging with the parasympathetic nervous system, we are able to repair any current damage that there may be as well as "refill our reserves." The same way that good sleep is able to help us stay healthy and feel good throughout the day is close to how acupuncture sessions can also help us stay healthy and feel good. They both engage the same "rest and digest" system of our body. In fact, acupuncture directly turns this "rest and digest" system on while also helping to regulate our sleep cycle so that, after treatment, we get a great nights' sleep. If you're feeling under the weather, not getting great sleep or anxious that you might be getting sick, I'd recommend turning to acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Not only will it bolster your immune system, but it can help to fight off pathogens, deal with those already inside your system and help with other parts of our body: the cardiovascular system, nervous system, lymphatic system, etc. that all play a part in our health and well-being.

If you're already sick, coming in 2-3 times per week is the recommendation, as this is an active condition and we want to help expel the pathogen and your symptoms before it burrows more deeply into your body and becomes chronic (i.e. think of how a common cold becomes bronchitis or pneumonia in some people). Some other tips for staying healthy this cold and flu season: drink at least 8-10 glasses of filtered water daily (no ice!), exercise regularly, eat a healthy and organic diet, including foods with beta carotene (like carrots, sweet potatoes, and garlic), limit sugar intakes, get plenty of rest, carve out time for relaxation each day, and schedule regular acupuncture sessions as well as look into potential Chinese herbs! Stay healthy by helping your body stay fueled and efficient, and not weakening it with excessive sugar, stress or dehydration (hello, inflammation!) In other words, engage in a lifestyle that helps your body work more efficiently, not harder.

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