Originally published October 21 2008
Eight Natural Ways To Prevent Cold and Flu
by Richard Stossel
(NaturalNews) With the cold weather coming upon us in the northern hemisphere everyone naturally becomes concerned about catching a cold or flu and staying healthy. Of course mainstream medicine and news talks a lot about getting flu shots as if that's the only possible thing that you can do to prevent the flu. That may be the case in their view of health and healing, but this is not so in the case of Chinese and other alternative medical systems.
The Chinese in particular have a deep understanding of what truly happens in the body when you catch a cold or flu. This does not have to do with viruses and bacteria, but rather with various atmospheric energies that are prevalent during each of the seasons that cause various illnesses due to the effects of those seasonal energies. The young and elderly are usually particularly susceptible to these seasonal changes and need to take extra precautions to guard against getting sick at these times.
The reason that a seasonal change, particularly from the warm to cold weather affects us all is because the body can often be slow to adjust to the changes in prevalent atmospheric energies at these times. In the summer warm yang energies are prevalent which generally strain the kidneys. The kidneys are a water organ meaning that they control water functions of the body. This includes keeping the body cool which is why drinking enough fluids in warm weather is so critical. In the fall the lungs are affected as the dryer air usually causes an increase in coughs and sometimes allows us to catch a cold.
In the winter the heart is stressed because the heart being the fire organ has to work harder to keep us warmer. If the heart is not able to adjust sufficiently then external cold energies that are strongest in the winter time, then cold (yin) energies can penetrate the bodies external shielding and cause us to catch a cold or flu. This is what people commonly call "catching a chill". When this happens it's often a sign that external cold energies have gotten into the body.
These terms are not just outdated colorful language but very real descriptions of very real energies that exist in nature. This is because the Chinese know that one of the major energy laws that affect all health issues in the body has to do with the balance of fire and water energies within the body. This is even true within each internal organ. When someone gets a cold or flu it really means that external cold energies have penetrated the body and taken hold thus causing the common symptoms of a cold or flu.
The skin and lungs are the most common places that these cold energies pass through our bodies and enter our systems. In Chinese medicine the skin and lungs are linked together which is one reason that people who smoke often have dry skin. Because smoking weakens and dries out the lung tissue itself and thus weakens other organs directly linked to the lungs such as the skin. The lungs and skin are paired organ system in Chinese medicine. Many have heard that if someone's skin is completely covered with paint for example, they can actually suffocate even though they can breathe through their lungs. This is more proof of the accuracy of this and many other linked organ pairs in Chinese medicine.
In the body there are four different main types of Chi or energy that govern the four main systemic functions of the body. One of these four energies is called "Wey Chi" or "guardian Chi" Wey chi is energy that sits on the surface of the skin and radiates out about a centimeter or so from surface of your skin. It is the responsibility of this energy field to protect the body from external cold and wind energies. Anything that causes you to become too fatigued or tired such as lack of sleep, stress and poor nutrition or simply being out in the cold too long without adequate protection will weaken your guardian chi field and increase your chance of catching cold, flu or other similar illnesses.
How to Strengthen Your Energy Shield
So what can you do to increase your energy shield and help protect yourself from cold and flu this and every season? Fortunately there are many simple and easy methods available to help boost your guardian energy.
You can simply add some more physical exercising to your regimen. You can do everything from push ups with static holding at the end of each push up set which will help heat up the body and thus lead more energy to the skin and beyond. Just about any kind of physical exercise with light to moderate resistance will help in this regard. This is particularly true when doing exercises that cause you to hold either your arms with our without weights in various postures for a minute or more. Working the mid section via crunches and sit ups with holding at the end of each set will strengthen the core organs so vital to immunity. This also applies to the legs which have many major organ/energy meridians that travel down them. These include the kidneys, liver and spleen in particular.
One simple exercise to do is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing foreword. Keep the hips pulled back slightly. Raise the arms up to shoulder height with the fingers pointing towards each other and the palms facing your chest making a sort of basketball hoop with your arms. Bend the knees enough so that when you look down you can't see your feet with your back straight and try holding this simple posture for several minutes each day. This is a classic exercise to build up yang energy and strengthen guardian chi. It can even build up a good amount of strength and endurance when done regularly.
You can also make sure that you're eating enough warming yang foods this winter such as organic meats like turkey, chicken, fish and even small amounts of red meat and butter which are effective at building yang energies. The long burning calories from these animal sources are necessary in colder climates to help the heart keep the body warm. Since the heart prefers natural fats over all other dietary sources for its fuel, these foods will help increase warming (yang) energy production and ease the strain on the heart at the same time.
There are herbs and herbal teas that you can drink to increase internal fire energies in the right way too. Some of these include warming herbs such as ginger, ginseng, cayenne and horny goat weed. Drinking teas made with these herbs can be a good measure to help prevent or treat a cold or flu.
Some other simple methods to help fight cold or flu include getting in a warm to very warm bathtub and letting the warm yang energies of the water penetrate the skin and boost the overall warming energy of the body. You can do this for as long as you like up to forty minutes to an hour or more. This is particularly helpful in strengthening the kidneys and lungs as they are main organs involved in the immune system and are often affected in illnesses of external cold penetration such as cold and flu. The body will absorb the warming energy from the water and this balances the internal cold in the body thus resulting in symptom relief and accelerated healing.
Another technique along these same lines is to place just your hands in warm to very warm water for five minutes or more. Try to make it as warm as you can comfortably stand without burning yourself. The many energy meridians that terminate in the hands will absorb the warmth of the water via these energy channels and the nerves and transmit that warmth back to their respective organs. This technique is good to give a quick boost to the immune system when taking a long bath is not an option such as at work or at a friend house. Even just running the hands under a warm faucet can have similar immune boosting effects too.
Practicing an exercise called the "thymus tap" is also beneficial. The thymus gland is located above the breast bone in the center of the upper chest. Using the flats of the knuckles to tap this gland with light to moderate pressure 200-300 times several times a day will boost immune function significantly. The thymus gland is one of the master glands of immunity in the body and this helps to stimulate and increase the production of T-cells that help fight off germs and infections which often result from a weakened immune system. This is also an excellent exercise to add to your regular health regimen for added immunity.
Lastly you can practice this simple breathing technique as a daily preventative or during a bout of cold or flu to help increase warming yang energy in the body. Take a long deep breath and then upon exhalation lightly tense up all the muscles of your body. Keep the muscles tensed for the duration of your exhalation which should last about five seconds. Take one or two slow deep cleansing breaths, and then repeat. You can do this exercise between five and ten times in a row. Rest for a few minutes and take several slow deep breaths to cleanse the body and calm the heart between sets and begin again if needed. You should feel warmer after even a few breaths and you may notice some mild to moderate symptom relief too.
If you have any existing heart conditions then I would skip this exercise and consult with your doctor first. That's because this can build up significant amounts of yang energy and can cause increase in your heart rate. This is a martial art technique that was discovered centuries ago in the north of China. They found out that it was also very effective at keeping warm during the cold winter months and also that it greatly helps during an invasion of cold (yin) energy characterized by cold and flu symptoms.
If you practice these and other natural techniques which include simply dressing for the season, getting plenty of rest which also boosts overall guardian energies, proper supplementation via herbs, vitamin and mineral supplements and adjusting of the diet to keep you warm, you'll greatly reduce or even eliminate your changes of catching a cold or flu this season. You'll also increase your overall resistance to many other diseases via the combined immune boosting effects of all of these techniques.
About the authorRichard is a network engineer and longtime practitioner of Chinese martial arts, medicine and chi-gung for over twenty six years. Having learned many Chinese health and healing arts from old world gung-fu and healing masters and practitioners, he has helped many people to overcome their health issues and achieve their fitness goals. Through diligent study and experience he has taken this knowledge even further over the years including reading scores of books on Chinese medicine, health, chi theory, science, physics, nutrition, supplements, meditation, martial arts, and many other subjects. Utilizing the web, health and fitness videos, newsletters, articles, teachings and lectures, Rich is passionate about spreading the true knowledge of health, healing, fitness and spiritual truths. I'm proud to be writing articles for NaturalNews.com You can read many articles, hear audio interviews, and learn more about the highly praised Chinese Health and Fitness video by visiting Chinese Health and Fitness.com
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