The start of fall is upon us, and with the colorful leaves and apple orchards, comes the imminent colds and flus. Most people seek out an acupuncturist when they are dealing with pain - since acupuncture is great at decreasing pain levels. But, where traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can really shine, is by helping keep people healthy and educating them on how to avoid both acute and chronic disease.
So, without further ado, here are some acupuncture tips to help keep you healthy this autumn.
Keeping warm doesn't just mean wearing enough layers when you go outside. It means you should keep two specific parts of your body from being exposed to the cold as the temperature dips: your neck and your digestive system.
Your neck: Chinese medicine believes that the key to a strong immune system (otherwise known as your defensive qi) is to keep the body warm and closed off to the dry, fall winds that help spread disease. The back of your neck has several acupuncture points related to wind. Leaving this part of your body exposed to the cool fall wind can lower your immunity and be the breaking point when your body decides if its defensive qi is strong enough to fight off the cold your co-worker brought to the office. So, dig out a scarf from your pile of winter clothes, or use this tip as an excuse to go out and buy yourself some cute new neck-wear. Your lungs will thank you.
Your digestive system: As the weather gets cooler, the raw juices, giant salads, and fresh fruit that we feasted on in the summer aren't as appropriate for our digestive systems now. Cold, raw foods are harder to digest and take too much energy to transform in to energy and blood. Since over 70% of our immune system cells reside within our gut , it's important to eat foods that will bolster your immunity as the season for colds and flus approaches. Soups and stews are warmer and easier to digest, and eating them will help lead your body to a stronger defense against encroaching pathogens.
The crisp, fall air has much less humidity in it than the hot, sticky days of summer. Our respiratory systems are covered in mucus membranes which act as a first line of defense against dust, mold, viruses, and bacteria. Those mucus membranes hate being dry, so it's important that you do your best to keep them hydrated. You can accomplish this by drinking enough water throughout the day, using a humidifier in your home or office, and flushing your sinuses with a neti pot.
Our skin is another important protective barrier that dislikes dryness. Skin irritations and dry rashes tend to flare up in the fall. Keep your skin hydrated and healthy by drinking lots of water, eating omega-3 fatty acids (think cold water fish, flax seeds, walnuts), and using a moisturizer that doesn't contain alcohol (alcohol dries out skin).
Dry coughs are all too common in the fall. According to TCM dietary therapy, stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and cherries are moisturizing for the lung. Eating these fruits warm, with a small amount of sweetener such as honey or molasses, can help resolve a dry cough. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks for some delicious (and therapeutic) recipes using stone fruit and other fall produce.
The long and expansive days of summer are shortening and contracting in preparation for the hibernation of winter. This is the time to rest and allow for our bodies to conserve energy. Restorative bodywork such as acupuncture, shiatsu, and yin yoga are the perfect complements to the season. Adequate rest will allow your body and immune system to function at its best and keep you strong and healthy.
Sign up for Health Notes, my weekly newsletter, for musings on health and business:
**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
***Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life - duh!