How Acupuncture Can Help You PREVENT a Cold or the Flu
This post is part of my series for how to stay healthy during cold and flu season. Check out the others here:
There may be no other time when I am more grateful to be an acupuncturist than cold and flu season. It can be frustrating to feel vulnerable each winter, expecting that you’ll come down with at least one bad cold or sinus infection, or God forbid the dreaded flu.
With the healing help of acupuncture, I can now face cold and flu season head on knowing that my and my family’s immune systems are strong and able to do their best against the worst of the bugs we may face. Why? Because acupuncture is a natural form of medicine that can help you PREVENT colds and the flu. Here’s how.
Wei Qi: Your Body’s First Defense
Acupuncture as a whole works on the energetic level of the body, and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body has several different types of energy. One type called wei qi, or defensive energy, is the energy that flows just under the surface of the skin, between the skin and muscles. Its main function is to identify and kick out any invading pathogens at the body’s surface.
If your defensive energy is strong, your body, when exposed to a cold or flu virus, would be able to kick it out and prevent it from invading and multiplying, thus keeping you healthy. If your defensive energy is weak, then your body may not have the ability to kick out an overpowering bacteria or virus thus letting it invade resulting in you becoming sick. People who are prone to catching colds frequently have weak defensive energy.
How Acupuncture Strengthens Your Cold Fighting Abilities
Specific acupuncture points work directly at the defensive energy level enabling us to continually strengthen our cold and flu fighting powers with regular acupuncture treatments. Because defensive energy is formed from the food we eat and the water we drink, its formation is also dependent on the healthy functioning of the stomach and spleen, as they are the organs responsible for transforming food and water into energy.
Think back to when you last had a cold or flu. Was it after a period of time when you weren’t eating the healthiest of foods? Was it after a particularly stressful time or period of worry or anxiety? If we eat food that is highly processed, full of sugar, oils and preservatives, or even if we are eating on the run or at our desks, it makes our stomachs and spleens work that much harder, leaving us with weak energy. If we are overworked or constantly worrying and thinking, this too can deplete our stomach and spleens, limiting their ability to transform the food and water we intake into energy.
Acupuncture treatments therefore focus not only on points that directly influence the defensive energy but also on strengthening your digestive system (the stomach and spleen) so that your body can effectively create this defensive energy.
The best time to utilize acupuncture in your effort to prevent your next cold or flu is to start treatments at least one month before the start of cold and flu season. Strengthening your defensive energy before cold and flu germs are out in full force is your best strategy to keep you and your family healthy. Continuing treatments throughout the season, and especially during times when you are stressed, worried or not eating optimally, will only serve to keep your energy strong.
Acupressure to Prevent Colds & the Flu
Between treatments, you can also practice acupressure at home to stimulate the immune boosting acupuncture points. Acupressure is a technique that utilizes a finger or thumb to apply pressure on an acupuncture point on the body, thus stimulating the healing properties of that point.
One of the best, if not THE best, acupuncture points for building defensive energy as well as strengthening stomach and spleen energy is the point, Stomach 36. Stomach 36 is located on both lower legs, about four finger widths below the knee, approximately one finger width anterior to the top of the tibia bone.
Once you locate the acupuncture point, simply apply pressure on that area with your finger or thumb for approximately 30 seconds. Pressure should be firm but not painful. Repeat this process on the same point on the opposite side of the body for another 30 seconds. Apply acupressure at least once a day on these points or as many times as needed throughout the day.