Tips for Surviving Cold and Flu Season

surviving cold and flu season dreamclinic massage seattle bellevue redmondThe end of winter and early spring are prime times for the cold and flu. If you work in an office or frequently use public transit, it can seem nearly impossible to avoid some sort of illness.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to drastically reduce your risk and be successful at surviving the cold and flu season. While you probably know that you should be getting a good night’s sleep, washing your hands well, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick, there are many ways to boost your immunity that you may not have thought of. Even if you do end up catching a bug, following these tips may help you cut the time it takes you to recover.

Tap Your Chest Every Few Hours
In the middle of your breastbone, roughly at the level of your third rib, there’s an acupressure point that’s directly related to your immune system. Dr. Daniel Hsu of New York AcuHealth recommends gently tapping the area for a minute every few hours. Doing so will prompt the thymus gland to produce more T cells, which are responsible for attacking and destroying pathogens.

Take Elderberry Extract
When distilled into a syrupy extract, the nutrients found in elderberries may offer some relief from aches, pains, and congestion. A 2004 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that those who took a 15-milliliter dose four times a day for five days were able to reduce their flu symptoms by an average four days.

Stop Touching Your Face
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that people touch their nose or mouth an average of 3.6 times per hour. Putting a stop to this habit is easier said than done, but it might be one of the best things you can do to avoid transferring bacteria from surfaces like door handles and faucets.

Eat Mushrooms Daily
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition touted the medicinal qualities of shiitake mushrooms. In a group of 52 healthy men and women, those who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for a month had significantly higher numbers of T cells. They also had a reduction in what’s known as c-reactive protein, which suggested lower inflammation.

Inhale Essential Oils
Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, co-founder of Northeast Integrative Medicine, recommends inhaling essential oils for 10 minutes at least once a day. Add a few drops of thyme or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of boiling water, then hover your face above the bowl with a towel over your head. The menthol smell should help open up your airways, while antimicrobial particles in the oil will coat the nasal cavity. Bonus: The steam will also open up your pores, leaving your skin dewy and refreshed.

The Many Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

cupping massageOriginally developed over thousands of years ago, the Chinese treatment of cupping therapy has found its way into modern-day medicine. It’s an ancient practice in which small glass or plastic cups are placed on the skin. Suction is then generated using one of two methods: A small fire is created in the cup using a flammable substance such as rubbing alcohol or paper. As soon as the fire goes out, the cup is applied to the skin. As the air cools, it creates a vacuum, causing the skin and underlying muscle to be pulled into the cup. In more modern treatments, cups may have small rubber pumps, which allow the air to be drawn out without using fire.

The ultimate goal of cupping is to enhance circulation, relieve pain, fight fatigue, and release toxins from the body, among many other benefits. While cupping can be performed on its own, it’s frequently combined with acupuncture in a single treatment. A 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that cupping, when used in conjunction with other traditional Chinese treatments, was far better than anything else at curing those with skin conditions like shingles and acne. It also addressed issues caused by nerve damage, such as facial paralysis.

Over the course of a cupping treatment, cups are typically left on the body for 5 to 15 minutes. Massage oil may be applied in order to allow the cups to be pulled across the skin. During this time, the skin becomes red due to the congestion of blood flow. This discoloration may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. There may also be some slight bruising, but this shouldn’t be painful. Once the marks have disappeared, the treatment can be repeated until the condition is resolved.

In recent years, even celebrities have been singing its praises. Stars like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have been vocal about their devotion to cupping thanks to its relaxation benefits. Chinese swimmer Wang Qun, tennis pro Andy Murray, and many of the players on the Mets have adopted the therapy as a way to relieve soreness and address injuries.

As with most traditional Chinese medicine, cupping treatments are unique to each individual and their current needs. It shouldn’t be used on people who bleed easily or have skin ulcers. While pregnant women can safely undergo cupping, it needs to be performed with extreme caution and never on the abs or the lower back. If you think you may benefit from this therapy, meet with a qualified acupuncturist to create a plan designed specifically for you. Schedule an appointment today!