Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 FLU: Panic And More Panic

By Mary Cissy Majebe, O.M.D.

Each of us has heard repeatedly about the new “swine flu” that is approaching. I want to share with you treatment and prevention strategies from a Chinese medicine perspective.

Chinese medicine has a long history of treating epidemics. There are MANY treatment methods. One is based on a system called the Wen Bing School. This school of thought teaches that there are four levels of heat that an illness such as a flu can traverse. These four levels are wei, qi, ying and blood.

When an illness is still at the wei level, major symptoms will be muscle aches, headaches, fever and chills. Sensory orifice symptoms will often be the predominant factor. When the illness progresses to the qi level, the fever will rise, and there will be more signs of heat such as sore throat, mouth sores, dry lips, red eyes and cough. When the illness reaches the ying level, it will also have symptoms of insomnia, night sweats, and agitation. In the last stage, there will be bleeding of some type, whether mild as in bleeding gums, or more severe. At all of these levels, Chinese medicine has the tools to address the illness and restore health.

In case you, or one of your loved ones, develop a flu this winter, there are specific treatments for each of these levels that can assist you in regaining your health. We want you to know that the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic is ready to assist you. At the same time, we will hold the thought that this flu season will be part of the natural ebb and flow and will not manifest with the severity predicted.

I have been asked by many of you if I get a flu shot. In researching the H1N1 flu, at this time it appears that this flu is not as serious an illness as the other more common flu varieties. I question the wisdom of an immunization that bypasses our bodies’ normal defensive system and is introduced at the blood level. Since this appears to be a mild flu, even though it is highly contagious, would it not be better to allow the body to develop some immunity to this flu by getting sick and then allowing the body to recover naturally? I strongly question the wisdom of trying to eradicate ALL illness with either a pill or an immunization.

I wonder what the consequences long-term may be in not allowing children to experience illness and develop natural immunity.

I chose not to get a flu shot, BUT, for those of you who do choose to have a flu shot, I recommend the following:

Therapy After the Flu Vaccine

Food Therapy: Sesame Milk

Grind ½ cup of sesame seeds (black is best), then cook for 15 minutes in 1 cup water and drink the liquid. Do this two times the day of the vaccination and two times the next day. For children, reduce the dosage to one half-cup two times a day for the two days.

Sesame seeds are high in Omega 3 & 6 oils, which clear heat from the body at the level of essence. We always want to protect the essence level.

Home Health Care: Gwa Sa
After returning home from receiving your flu shot, Gwa Sa the Urinary Bladder meridian to release any latent heat created by the vaccine.

Use a Gwa Sa spoon (Chinese ceramic soup spoon) to scrape downwards on either side of the spine, beginning at the base of the occiput to the bottom of the shoulder blade area.

Acupuncture Care
Telephone the CAC and have a mini-treatment. With acupuncture and gwa sa, this mini-treatment will clear heat that can become latent and create other problems. (The reduced fee for this treatment is $50 to enable us to attend to your health-care needs during this time.)

Protection From the Flu

Essential Oils
Our clinic is making every effort to be pro-active in protecting the health of all of our patients. We have developed an Essential Oil formula that can be applied to specific acupuncture points daily for assisting your body’s Wei Qi (your defensive qi, i.e. immune system) to remain strong.

Essential oils have both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. To use this formula, apply topically one time a day to Ren 17 (the point directly on your breast bone at the level of the nipples) and Lung 7 to Lung 9 (located on your wrist, thumb-side up). I would like to caution you regarding the use of essential oils that are not medical grade. To ensure good results clinically, it is important to use a medical grade essential oil.

Because these oils have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, we will be diffusing them in the clinic this winter to better protect your health and the health of our staff. The essential oils that we utilize are organic and are extracted without the use of solvents. We will be using a combination of Pine, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree in our office.

Jade Wind Screen
If you want a tonic for this winter’s flu and cold season, we suggest a formula called Jade Screen. This is ONLY to be taken when you are healthy. Do not take this formula if you have any upper respiratory signs or a fever.

Who Is Most At Risk for the Flu & What You Can Do

I have read and studied the information that is coming from the CDC regarding the H1N1 flu. By looking at this information, it is possible to predict which patients will have the most difficulty with this flu and to prepare for the symptoms that might accompany the flu.

Many of you have heard your practitioner speak of Internal and External pathogenic factors. The external pathogenic factors include cold, damp, heat, wind, dryness and fire. From looking at the groups of people that are having difficulty with this flu, we can see some patterns.

Many of the children who have done poorly with this flu have neurological issues such as seizure disorders or cerebral palsy. From a Chinese medicine perspective, each of these conditions has an Internal pathogenic factor of Wind. Wind from our perspective can be due to an excess of internal heat or an insufficiency of fluids. These two factors can exacerbate the onset and course of this flu.

For this reason, it is necessary to nourish the body with fluids. HENCE the statement you always hear to drink plenty of fluids should say, “DRINK, DRINK, and DRINK plenty of fluids!” The second factor, heat, tells us that it is important to REST, as this can also help to keep a fever from becoming too high. This is difficult, because a fever is one of the body’s defenses against both bacteria and viral conditions. It is only when the fever is high that it consumes the bodily fluids that can lead to a more serious condition.

We suggest that you seek care at the beginning of an illness this winter and not delay. On the other hand, we hope to see that you are able to avoid this flu, by remembering these simple suggestions.

The most simple solutions are often the best:

Get a Good Nights Sleep
Eat a Healthy Diet
Engage in Light Exercise
Keep Stress Levels Low

We cannot eliminate being exposed to viral or bacterial invasions, but we can try to keep our immune systems strong in order to ward off illness. I wish you all good health this winter season!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kitchen Recipes for the Fall: Food & Home Therapy for the Colds & Flu of Fall

By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

As the weather begins to get cooler, and the wind changes its nature and starts to feel more "invasive" to the body, it is important to protect ourselves through proper dress and foods. Making sure we are dressed for the weather is important. Wearing a scarf around the neck or protecting the head keeps that "wind" from invading our bodies.

In Chinese medicine, we call wind the Bearer of "100 diseases." It can help the cold to penetrate our bodies; and if our defenses are weak, we can begin to feel those early signs of an impending cold or flu.

An important part of our body's defenses comes from the food we eat. Eating nourishing squashes, hot cereals, and warming grains will help our defenses stay strong.

One way to cook grains that are easily digested is in the form of a "congee." It is a grain-based porridge that is very strengthening for the digestive system. It is cooked in a crock-pot or simmered over very low heat on the stove.

Any number of grains can be used: rice, millet, quinoa, barley, spelt, etc. You can also add sweet potatoes or squashes, various nuts, spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the flavorings of molasses, honey, rice milk or maple syrup.

You can get creative!

Suggested Congee Grain Combinations:

1 part grain (1/4 cup)
5 parts water (1 and ¼ cup)
Combine in crock-pot & cook on low overnight
(8 hours)
The proportions of grain and water can be adjusted so that you get the consistency you want.

Another way to be prepared for when that "wind" carries some cold or flu past your defenses, is to have on hand at home a remedy for when you first start to feel those signs that you may be "coming down" with something: runny nose, achiness, slight headache, maybe slight chills or a very mild fever.

Directions for the Early Stages of a Cold:

One of the earliest ways to treat these symptoms at home is to brew some tea using spring onions, or scallions, and prepared (fermented) soybeans, which can be bought at your local health food store.

Use 2-5 stalks of the onion with 12 - 30 grams (about a ¼ cup) of the soybeans. Brew for no longer than 10 minutes and drink up to 6 cups a day.

To increase the effect of this "tea" helping to drive the cold back out of the body, lie down and cover yourself with a blanket to induce sweating. Be sure to get plenty of rest and replenish your fluids through drinking enough plain water and herbal teas.

If you are not feeling better, come see us! In the meantime, keep yourself healthy through your food choices and having on hand at home a response to those initial cold symptoms.