As the cold weather creeps in many of us experience health challenges during the winter months. Whether it’s sore joints and muscles, or colds and flus, many of us suffer from adjusting to the cold. Here are a couple of non-invasive tips at how I have been assisting my patients in increasing their immunity during winter.
Pesky colds and flus
During the months of May, June, July and August, an increase in bacteria and viruses can be seen in our homes, workplaces and communities. Making sure your immune system is optimally functioning during these times can be the key to enjoying improved health and increasing your body’s ability to fight off colds and flus. Getting regular adjustments, eliminating toxins, and exercising can really assist your body during these months.
One way in which adjustments can assist the immune system to function properly is by restoring alignment to the vertebrae to improve communication between the brain and the rest of your body. Your body is incredibly intelligent but sometimes experiences life challenges that can reduce our ability to fight off these illnesses. Chiropractic adjustments can boost immune function and help the body fight during times of reduced immunity.
Dry cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese Medicine technique used for thousands of years to eliminate toxins and increase circulation leading to increased immune-boosting effects. Cupping is simply applying suction to the skin surface to create negative pressure. The International Cupping Therapy Association (ICTA) says that cupping can improve your health if you suffer from several physical and mental health problems, including the common cold or flu, depression, arthritis, anxiety, sciatica, intestinal problems, muscle pain, and even cellulite and stretch marks.
I recommend getting a cupping treatment every few weeks in the lead up to winter, especially if you find your body has been sluggish and struggles to eliminate toxins from your system. If you are already doing it, cupping is excellent to do in alongside a detoxification program.
Cupping is a very safe and non-invasive way to boost immunity, improve viral and bacterial defence, reduce rates of cardiovascular diseases, and decrease headaches. The marks left as a result of the cupping can look very painful and alarming, but let me assure you they are not painful and will fade within a week if you have adequate circulation. The amount of discolouration will dictate how often you should get cupping.
The ICTA lists these health benefits of cupping:
- Deep tissue stimulation
- Relieves inflammation
- Promotes the flow of lymphatic fluid to stimulate the immune system
- Pulls blood supply to the skin
- Stretches muscle and connective tissue
- Encourages circulation
- Loosens scar tissue adhesions
- Stimulates the flow of Qi energy
A few other ways to boost your immune system:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water or herbal teas
- Perform regular, intensive exercise
- Get plenty of sleep
- Keep stress levels low – speak to one of our practitioners regarding whether lifestyle advice and if herbal support is needed
- Don’t smoke or binge drink
- Echinacea, Vitamin C and Vitamin D can help if you do get ill
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition that can occur to some people during the winter months. SAD may present with the typical symptoms of depression but is seasonally dependent. Seeing a chiropractor can help by regulating hormone production through stimulating the central nervous system.
A spinal adjustment or activator is a great way to assist with preventing depression in winter as it helps the body’s central nervous system to operate optimally. Your chiropractor may feel it is appropriate to also give practical life advice about lifestyle, food and exercising to help avoid winter depression.
Eating foods to nourish your body during the winter months
Good health is closely related to what you're eating. ‘You are what you eat’ is a very relevant aspect of enjoying good immunity during any season, but especially in winter.
Plenty of seasonal fresh veggies and fruit are essential for a healthy immune system during winter. I generally advise to individuals who have a tendency to be cold to change their diet according to the seasons, to foods that are warming. For example, try incorporating ginger and herbal soups with immune boosting mushrooms and herbal ingredients as part of your diet. Your chiropractor or a nutritionist or naturopath can advise in more detail regarding diet during the consult.
Supplements can also be effective at assisting the immune system, and one product I really like and have used for my own family and clients is the Metagenics Mycotaki mushroom mix. It’s great for general health and wellbeing, but particularly effective when you’re feeling like you're coming down with a cold or flu, or you’ve been around others who have been infected.
Dr Aisha Ahmed is a chiropractor and student of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Healthspace Castle Hill. Contact the Castle Hill clinic for any questions regarding the dry cupping or immune boosting techniques on 9659 1200.
Seasonal affective disorder and latitude: a review of the literature Mersch, Peter Paul A. et al. Journal of Affective Disorders , Volume 53 , Issue 1 , 35 – 48
- New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine?Rozenfeld, Evgeni et al.?Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies , Volume 20 , Issue 1 , 173 – 178
Myeong Soo Lee, Tae-Young Choi, Byung-Cheul Shin, Jong-In Kim & Sang-Soo Nam (2010) Cupping for Hypertension: A Systematic Review, Clinical and Experimental Hypertension, 32:7, 423-425, DOI: 10.3109/10641961003667955