It’s going around right now; most people just call it the crud. It’s a particularly contagious upper respiratory infection–or maybe it’s the flu. Either way, it starts with a really sore throat, then your nose starts running like a faucet, and finally this alien being settles in your chest for about three weeks causing a loud, loopy cough that could wake the dead.
Nobody wants to get this thing, but can you fight it off? Possibly. I believe that there is a day or so, when you feel like you’re on the verge of getting sick, and what you do during that time can make or break what happens next. Unfortunately, once this thing sets in, you just have to have it, sore throat, faucet nose, loopy cough and all. So what can you do during that day or so that you may or may not be getting sick?
First, a little background on immunity from the viewpoint of Chinese medicine. The Chinese believe that you are surrounded by something akin to a protective bubble that keeps pathogens away. Pathogens can take the form of viruses, bacteria, pollen, and in some cases, really annoying people or situations (seriously–these can make you sick, too).
Your protective bubble is a kind of body energy called Wei Qi. Your energy performs a number of functions. For example, it’s what keeps you warm, moves your muscles, and transforms your food into nutrients and more energy. It also protects you from outside invaders in the form of immunity. Keeping your energy strong is a good way to keep your immunity strong. So, again, what can you do to keep from catching the crud? Some tips:
-Lay low. Conserve your energy so you have enough to fight off that cold. Take a nap, postpone your workout for a couple of days, and don’t work too hard.
-Get enough sleep. For me, this is a key strategy in avoiding colds and flu. You heal while you sleep, so when I feel like I’m about to get something, I get some serious sleep in the form of a couple of nine-hour nights. I go to bed a little earlier and sleep in a little later.
-I start taking some Chinese herbs. My personal favorite and in my opinion, the most effective, is a formula that contains isatis root (Ban Lan Gen), which has anti viral, anti microbial properties and is good for a sore throat. This is a popular formula that is commonly used throughout China. It comes in granules that you dissolve into hot water and drink like tea. Look for it at your nearest Asian grocery store or Chinese medicine provider.
-Get some zinc, either in the form of ColdEeze lozenges, gel, or nasal spray, or as a mineral supplement. As a supplement, you can take 25 mg two or three times a day. Scientists believe that zinc works because it prevents the formation of the proteins a cold or a virus needs to replicate itself. Be sure to take your zinc with food, as it has the potential to upset an empty stomach.
-Stay warm. This is an energetic thing. If you’re using your energy to stay warm, you don’t have it to keep your protective immunity bubble strong. Bundle up, sit by the fire, and don’t get chilled.
I find that with a little proactive care, there are times when you can fight off that nasty cold before it sets in. Take it easy, take some zinc, drink some herbs, and stay warm.