Spring Colds and Winter Flu Blues

Sarah BartleAh, Chicago weather. One day we are wearing parkas and are barely recognizable under hats, gloves and scarves. The next day is warm but wet and gray. The third day half the city is sniffling and wondering why their joints hurt. I will share some tried and true methods of Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) to keep you healthy during weather fluctuations.

  1. In TAM we view fluctuating weather as a potential “wind invasion”. A preventative technique is to keep the wind from blowing on your skin, specifically the back of your neck. Simply wearing a scarf is enough to keep your neck protected.
  2. Practice gua sha as soon as you feel cold symptoms. Gua sha is an ancient technique to release “wind” (Chinese concept of how we get colds/flus—from the time before there were microscopes and the concept of bacteria/viruses) that has invaded the neck area. Follow the instructions below and let us know if you need a gua sha tool or white flower oil.
  • Sprinkle a drop or two of White Flower Oil (or other lotion/oil) on the skin.
  • Smooth it around with your fingers or a cotton ball.
  • Use the GuaSha tool to scrape the skin until the skin turns pink and/or small red dots (petechiae) show up on the area around the C7 vertebral bone (sticks out the most on your neck when you bend your head forward). Stroke from base of head down the neck and across shoulders. Focus on the area close to the bone. If your sinuses are congested, include the area on the back of your head and upper neck near your hairline.
  • Ideally, scrape the skin in the same direction, usually from the area that is closest to the center of your body out to the outermost end (not circular).
  • Remember – do not cause pain when scraping the skin – apply just enough pressure to bring up the red dots but not so much that it hurts. Sometimes the skin will just turn pink without developing the dots – this is ok. If you do not have a gua sha tool, you can use a spoon with the rounded lip and gently scrap over fabric. Be careful not to rip the fabric or cut your skin!
  1. Foods to eat:
  • Eat “pungent” herbs to release “wind” pathogens. Garlic, ginger, onions etc. have a warming, pungent quality. These foods are good to incorporate in your meals when you feel under the weather. Add these ingredients for your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.
  • Cold and Flu time tea + Licorice tea contain a unique formula of herbs to release “wind” pathogen. Add lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat.

Practicing these techniques will keep you in tip top shape during cold and flu season.

Elimination Diet – Whole 30

Sarah BartleOn November 1st I started a new career and a new diet. Health conscious people might call it a new lifestyle, but I don’t consider myself a health conscious person yet. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years completing my Masters degree in Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. During that time my life consisted of going to class, studying, interning and working multiple part-time jobs. The energy needed for so much focus left little else for self-care.

Despite studying a holistic field and knowing full well the importance of self-care, my exhaustion let it fall by the way side. In 3 1/2 years I gained 30 pounds. I was fully aware that I was gaining weight, but could not make it stop. There was simply not enough energy left in my reserves after my schoolwork was completed. This was my personal excuse, and anyone who struggles with weight issues knows what I mean by that. I may get further into the emotional component in a later post, but this blog is not going to get that deep. What a relief! This is about what I’m eating and what I’m not eating. (more…)