Spring Colds and Winter Flu Blues

by Sarah Bartle

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.

Published on February 28th, 2018