Back to school season is wonderful in so many ways. I love seeing how excited my daughter gets when being reunited with many of her friends that she did not see over the summer. And I’m always hit with the nostalgia of school supply shopping during my youth. However, there is one not-so-great occurrence that tends to go along with kids heading back to school . . . getting sick.
When my daughter first started preschool I was horrified at how often she got sick. It seemed like every couple of weeks, just when she started feeling better from one cold, she began sniffling or coughing with the next. Although kids in school (along with their parents and teachers) are probably always going to suffer from at least one or two colds throughout the season, I am happy to be able to share some strategies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that will greatly reduce the number and severity of the illnesses in your household.
Although most people tend to think of acupuncture as a treatment for pain, it can also be an incredibly useful and effective remedy for the common cold. An acupuncture treatment that is given at the first sign of cold and flu symptoms can often rid the body completely of the virus or bacteria that was causing the issue.
Acupuncture works to boost your body’s immune system, making it possible for you to more effectively fight whatever pathogen is making you sick. There are no residual side effects from an acupuncture treatment like the drowsiness or cotton mouth that you may experience from taking over-the-counter medications (although you may get so relaxed during your acupuncture treatment that you take a restful napJ).
Children respond particularly well to acupuncture. People may not think of taking their kids to an acupuncturist because of the needles, however, in pediatric acupuncture needles are often not even used. By stimulating acupuncture points with our hands, lasers, or other non-puncturing tools, or by using tui na (Chinese bodywork), acupuncturists can accomplish the same results as when using needles.
There are several formulas of Chinese herbs that work amazingly well for the common cold. Unlike over the counter medicine or antibiotics, Chinese herbal formulas can be tailored to treat your specific needs. There are different formulas for different types of colds, and specific herbs can easily be added to a formula if need be.
There are also some herbs that are very effective in boosting the immune system, which could prevent you or your kids from getting sick at all.
Chinese herbs can be taken in several different ways including teas, tablets, capsules, and tinctures. There are also pediatric formulas that have been created specifically for children.
Food as medicine
Depending on the symptoms that you are suffering from, different foods can actually help diminish your symptoms and even rid your body of the pathogen altogether.
For colds with thin white or clear nasal discharge, chills, runny nose, itchy throat, aching limbs, aching neck and shoulder, coughing with thin phlegm, no sweating, and little to no fever, the following foods are indicated:
Cinnamon, Chilies, Coriander, Garlic, Ginger, Green onion
For colds with a fever, sore throat, dry cough or cough with thick yellow mucus, thick yellow nasal discharge, and body aches, the following foods are indicated:
Apple, Carrots, Celery, Cilantro, Green tea, Pear, Peppermint
A good rule of thumb when you are sick is to eat light, easy-to-digest foods like soups, cooked vegetables, and rice. Homemade chicken soup is always healing when you are sick and specific ingredients such as ginger, garlic, and green onions, or cilantro, celery, and carrots can be added depending on your symptoms. Make a basic broth ahead of time and freeze so it will be ready and waiting in case someone in your household gets sick.
So as your kids are heading back to school, if you start to notice that you or one of your family members is coming down with a cold, please contact us at Forever Able Wellness with your questions or to set up an appointment. And check out the back-to-school special we are offering for the month of September!
Written by: Amey Aubry, L.Ac., Ph.D.