In TICM, we have always used food, herbs, hijama and acupuncture as our customised flu shot and immunity boost. This combination works as I never get the flu. TICM is all about prevention of any sickness as prevention is better than any cure. So what should we be doing to keep immunity high and flu at bay?
Keep warm as even though cold weather may not make you directly sick, excessive exposure to cold lowers your immune system response, making you prone to illness. When you feel cold, the body has to spend energy to warm up, diverting less energy to support the immune system. It is the most important to keep the neck, stomach, legs, feet, lower back, ankles and head warm. Do not be barefoot and make sure to keep the feet and head warm always as this is where most heat escapes. Shower at night instead of the morning, as hot water opens the pores, exposing the body to cold air, weakening the immune system. Do not go outside after washing your hair as most people do expose themselves with wet hair too.
Focus on eating consistent meals every day and never skip a meal unless it gets too late at night, as eating late hinders your natural body clock. Eat seasonally, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables daily including dark leafy greens, radishes, daikon, ginger, scallions, onions, pumpkin, sweet potatoes etc. I always have bone broth, seaweed, organic protein and rice or rice noodles. Refrain from raw foods, cold drinks, skipping meals at this time. Our digestive function, Stomach and Spleen, are aligned with the sun, hence why largest meal should be eaten at breakfast time between 7-9am as Stomach receives most Blood at that time for digestion as the sun is rising for the day. Evening meal must be the lightest avoiding carbohydrates as the sun is setting and our body organs are preparing for detoxification and rest.
A steaming hot bowl of organic miso soup with extra scallions if you get that flu feeling as the miso soup dispels fever and heats the body almost immediately.
Consume ginger powder tea every single day, multiple times a day, in tea and in food, to kill pathogens, bacteria, parasites and invigorate the warmth in the body. It is so important to keep your internal fire and temperature going, especially during the colder months. Ginger powder also promotes healthy circulation and the flow of Blood and energy (Qi), supporting the entire digestion, immune system and natural detoxification.
Obtain Blood and energy formula from your TICM doctor keeping that at hand so in the event you find yourself feeling a bit weak, heavy and off, immediately take a dose, which is a formula that has been used for centuries to aid against pathogenic attacks to the immune system, such as a the common cold, influenza and related gastro-intestinal discomfort.
Proper rest and stress management as winter time represents the season with the most moon (Yin) energy in TICM. It is a time to focus your energy inward. Overworking and stress exhausts your energy supply, and thereby weakens the immune system. Rest if you are tired and do not feel bad about it. Do some stretching, Qigong, meditation and breathing to invigorate your body instead of vigorous exercise.
Do acupressure and acupuncture to keep your immunity strong using point called gates of consciousness. Bring your index and middle fingers to underneath the base of the skull, in the hollows on both sides of the neck, between the two vertical neck muscles. Press upward on both sides for 10 seconds, release, and repeat. You can apply fairly strong pressure.
Try incorporating the following immune boosting superfoods into your diet to strengthen not only your immune system, but also your gut and organ function. Each one of the below are used as TICM because of their powerful properties. Remember, try and reduce or completely avoid the consumption of iced beverages, cold drinks and raw foods to strengthen your immune system by supporting the function of your Spleen and Stomach.
Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra) is an adaptogen stimulating the immune system and has been one of the most recognised herbs in TICM, as it is included in every classic text there is. This berry enhances the body's natural resistance and adaptation to stressful influences and promotes overall metabolic efficiency, keeping the immune system in check. It’s five flavour essence promoting benefits to all five main organ systems. I use for my family in every formula. The berry can be found in Asian grocery stores.
Ginger is no surprise and a personal favourite food especially coming from an Asian background as it is used in almost all dishes we cook. Its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make ginger vital to digestion, immune support and circulation. Ginger promotes the healthy flow of Blood and energy (Qi), removes dampness and phlegm and activates natural detoxification. I use fresh ginger in cooking and powder in beverages.
Consume bone broth as it contains heaps of collagen, gelatin and amino acids, it helps to restore gut lining and inflammatory conditions. Lots of Stomach disorders begin due to leaky gut, which is tears in the lining of the intestines (see previous post). Our gut health is directly in balance with our immune system, and one requires the other to thrive.
Mushrooms is a must every single day. They are a huge source of vitamin D, which is especially helpful in the winter months. Mushrooms are natural detoxifiers and work wonders naturally cleaning and cleansing the body. So many people suffer vitamin D deficiency and there is absolutely no reason for this. Western medicine programme us to believe that its because we do not get enough sun. That is absolute rubbish as Allah has provided us with much more than the sun to provide us with Vitamin D.
Citrus and beets are high in vitamin C, the connection to citrus and beets and immunity is long known connected. In TICM, citrus helps to move energy (Qi) stagnation in the Spleen and relieve poor appetite. Citrus aids in digestion, relieves gas and bloating and dissolves phlegm. Citrus peel tea is wonderful to consume, just make sure you use organic peels. Tangerine, lemon, orange and limes are among the most beneficial. They also greatly help the respiratory system. Pomegranates are also great to consume now. With the beets, eat the leaves too as it’s a good source of nutrition for the Liver and potent for Blood.