How to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

It’s only March, but it’s already been a year full of one illness or another. Colds, the flu … they’re still out there. My daughter and boyfriend have both been sick, and many of my patients have been sick, and yet somehow I’ve managed to miss it. Lucky me, especially with the usual stress and fatigue. Over the years that I’ve been doing acupuncture and herbs, I find that I get sick much less, and when I do it’s never very severe. In the past, I got sick like everyone else, sometimes with lingering coughs, and often with sinus infections. That hasn’t happened to me in 15 years.

Mushroom blend

I worked at Elephant Pharmacy some years back, and I found out about a great mushroom blend. When I add these mushrooms to a good diet, exercise, and rest, I hardly ever get sick. It’s called MyCommunity, and it’s sold by a company called FungiPerfecti. You can find it at health food stores, as well as Whole Foods and Pharmaca, but it’s cheaper online, so check there if you’re interested. I like, a nice little California company. They send it out quickly, and it’s well packaged. Here’s the link:

You can get it even cheaper from, but they’re on the east coast, so it takes longer. Their packaging is bad, too, and my product has been damaged when I got it, so I don’t recommend them.

Echinacea for colds

It’s always a good idea to have some Echinacea on hand, which you can also find at health food stores and Whole Foods. As soon as you feel the slightest hint of a cold coming on, STOP taking other herbs, including the mushrooms, and take Echinacea and the Chinese anti-cold herbs, Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian, right away.

You only need to take Echinacea for a day or so. If you stop the cold in its tracks, great. If you do come down with a cold anyway, stop the Echinacea anyway, but continue the Yin Qiao as long as you don’t have a cough. If you have a cough, Yin Qiao could make things worse. You need different herbs for a cough.

Some people take Echinacea regularly as a cold preventive. If you’re considering this, there are two things you need to be aware of:

1) Echinacea is related to ragweed, a common allergen. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you may also have an allergic reaction to Echinacea.

2) Echinacea is considered a “tonic” herb in Chinese Medicine, which means it’s nourishing or promoting something. It’s good for your immune system when there is no virus around, but if you get a virus, the Echinacea can nourish the virus, too, which means it could make things worse. That’s why I take just a few doses if I think I’m getting a cold, then stop.

Acupuncture for colds

Getting an acupuncture treatment at the very beginning of a cold can also help ward it off, or at least reduce its severity and duration. I’m always happy to consult with current clients by phone about what herbs you can take regardless of how long you’ve had your cold or cough. Be healthy!

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