With cold and flu season currently in full swing, it can be challenging to keep illness at bay for yourself and your family. Even those who get a flu shot have no guarantee of not getting sick. More and more, people are seeking out natural alternatives and additional things that can be done to keep healthy.
Peter Harvey of Eastern Healing, 2531 Division St., Suite 101, in Joliet takes a holistic approach to the overall health of his patients.
"Chinese medicine is pretty much the grandfather of holistic medicine in how we approach the body," Harvey said. "We take a look at everything; you as a person, all signs and symptoms of what’s going on including factors like environment, stress, climate and diet.
"We figure out what’s causing it, then we make suggestions along all those lines to help you live better."
The first step is to look at nutrition.
“The first thing we always recommend to people is eating a specific kind of diet that is very high in all types of vegetables in every color of the rainbow, this includes fruits and a lot of garlic," Harvey said.
Harvey is a NCCAOM-certified, licensed acupuncturist and a trained herbalist with a master of science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM).
Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizes a combination of nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, exercise, and massage, with much of its focus on prevention and the balancing of overall health. Maintaining a healthy immune system is a cornerstone of well balanced health and is one of the best ways to avoid catching a cold or flu virus.
“Chinese herbal formulas are great for cold and flu symptoms," Harvey said. "Some of the herbals that we use have antiviral and antibacterial properties to them."
Harvey creates tinctures designed specifically to strengthen the immune system as well as different cold and flu herbal formulas for his patients. He said they approach colds and the flu differently.
“If someone has a high fever, you want to cool it down, vent the heat out of the body, give them cooling herbs; versus someone who has a cold you want to do the opposite you want to chase the pathogen out of the exterior of the body so we use warm acrid type herbs for that,” he said. "It is important to remember that both cold and flu can go into the lungs and lead to secondary infections like pneumonia if left untreated."
In addition to treating the infection with herbs and food, Harvey reccomends acupuncture.
“We recommend some acupuncture too because it helps treat a lot of the secondary symptoms, like clogged sinuses –it helps your breathing a little bit better,” he said.
Following are Harvey’s recommendations for things that you can do at home to boost your immune system and get through a cold or flu if you do get sick:
- Take a couple thousand milligrams a day of vitamin C, cod liver oil, and a good probiotic. These are all really good for strengthening your immune system throughout fall and winter.
- Stay away from dairy, orange juice, and sugar in your diet. Sugar retards the immune system and dairy creates phlegm, which is a host for bacteria and can lead to a lot of other problems. Have the orange instead of the orange juice.
- Drink a lot of water, a lot of green tea, and honey which is really good for coating the throat.
- Increase your intake of mushrooms - like shitake and maitaki mushrooms, which increase healthy cell activity.
- Get a lot of berries into your diet, they are loaded with phyto-nutrients and chemicals that really protect you and strengthen you.
- If you start to feel like you are getting sick and you have other people in the house with you, especially babies or younger kids who you don’t want to get sick, boil a pot of water with a little bit of vinegar in it. Bring it down to a simmer adding a little more vinegar as the level drops down. That will sanitize and kill viruses in the air.
- Make a simple tea with a few slices of fresh ginger and a cup of water along with the white part of a scallion (chopped). Boil it all in a pot for a few minutes and drink it as a tea. This is a good way to start warming up the body and getting rid of the chill.
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