5 Ways to Prepare for the Cold and Flu Season

As we are entering the new school year and the hottest part of the SoCal year, it’s odd to think that the cold and flu season starts now. But it does. If you are currently taking a customized formula from me, you already have a better than average chance of not getting sick.

Here are some ways to prepare yourself for in advance to avoid or shorten a cold or flu attack.

Elderberry extract. Those little old ladies that sipped Elderberry wine for medicinal purposes were on to something. Elderberry inhibits a virus’s ability to replicate. So if it is in your system before or at the same time as a virus first enters, you have a good chance of avoiding getting sick. It also tastes good (it is a berry!) and it’s easy to use with a child. You could take it all the time, but I recommend using this as soon as you notice somebody around you is sick. When my son was little, as soon as I heard a child sneeze in his vicinity, out came the Elderberry.

You will want to get an extract for higher concentrations of the good stuff and I’ve found that pill form works better than syrup unless you are dealing with a child. Gaia Black Elderberry is good BUT my hands-down favorite is New Chapter Immune Take Care. New Chapter is what I used and for my kiddo. I would open the gel cap into a cup of bubbly water and he thought he was drinking a berry soda.

Emergen-C Fizzy Drink. Definitely old-school but a large dose, 1000 mg Vit C with Zinc or with Additional B vitamins definitely can give your immune system some ammunition. Drink it warm to help the body absorb better. And with kids again it tastes good.

Use a light jacket or scarf to keep warm. Warning you to keep warm in summer temperatures sounds crazy but going back and forth from summer heat to intense air conditioning can cause a sudden chill. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this can cause a glitch in your immune system and an opportunity for a bug to get the upper hand. Most important is the neck when you feel that chill on your neck -- cover it.

Get plenty of sleep. TCM stresses the importance of “regular life.” This means having a regular mealtimes, worktimes and bedtimes. We all do better with routines, not just children. Having a regular bedtime will help your establish dependable sleep patterns that will keep your immune system strong.

Schedule an appointment. If you know you’re rundown and overstressed, see me for some maintenance care and a custom formula to boost your whole system and increase your tolerance to stress.

If boosting with the vitamins and using the elderberry as a barrier does not keep you feeling tip-top, it’s time to go to you TCM remedies. Your at-home cabinet should have the following:

  • Yin Chao – this is the formula for colds that begin with a sore throat

  • Gao Mao Ling – this is the formula for colds/flus that begin with an achiness in the skin and muscles

  • Hou Xiang – this is the formula for “sudden turmoil disorder,” when the contents of your GI tract are exiting using one or both exits

You can find these online or ask me next time you come in for an appointment.

Disclaimer: Please remember any signs or symptoms that are severe or last longer than two days without improvement should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Wiring Your Brain For Happiness

Recently science has proven that what you think actually creates the physical shape of your brain. Scientist now know that as a the brain fires off a neural sequence repeatedly over time, the brain cells involved wire together so the sequence can run more efficently.  The upside is this process of hard wiring in the brain helps the brain conduct routine business more efficiently, however the down side is that most people are not actively choosing how their brain, their life, is getting wired to operate. 

An example of an active use of this principle would be an athlete, or a piano player, who enhances his performance by visualizing the sequence he needs to perform.  The necessary brain wiring, or neural sequence, becomes stronger by thinking though the performance because the same neural pathways used to visualize it are used to perform it.

Given that the same thing happens with ALL your thoughts and feelings actively making choices about what you focus on starts to make a lot of sense.  If you are constantly stressed and overwhelmed your brain becomes wired to be very good at being stressed and overwhelmed.  It will then trigger the stress sequence in your body at the first thought of trouble, real or imagined.  

If you began thinking negative critical thoughts about yourself in puberty (and who didn't!) every day those thoughts have run through your mind unchallenged they have become more entrenched and more real.  Ever notice how that Critical Voice in your head speaks with absolute authority, those negative thoughts are deeply reinfored.  

Thousands of years ago the Sages of India knew this was how humans operated and their teachings are full of references to  “mental grooves”,  “patterned thinking” and "conditioned exsistance".  Liberation from this mindless, repeating of sequenced thoughts, behaviors, and/or actions is what meditation is meant to do. 

Beyond the science that supports the existance of "mental grooves", there is a  study out of China  that now shows the oldest brain exercise, meditation, remains the best for maintaining a positive outlook, off-setting stress, and keeping your brain “young” . 

Meditation not only can bring a person to a state of calm, it promotes a more positive outlook.  As time is spent in a calm, positive, state this is what becomes wired into the brain.  Each time you meditate your ability to mindfully, willfully, shake-off life's stresses and return to a state of ease grows stronger.

If you would like to give it a try, check out the free audio down loads of mediations at UCLA’s Mindfulness Research Center.   I recommend you start with the 5 minute Breathing Meditation or the 3 minute Loving Kindness Meditation.  

If sitting quietly watching your own breath sounds like science-fiction consider acupuncture treatment or yoga as a starting point.  If those options are not realistic, please read my post on practicing Gratitude and use that to get yourself moving in a positive direction. 

Or simple set the intention that you want a calm, more positive mind, and know that every mindful breath you take while holding that thought is a step in that direction.