We are now in peak cold and flu season, with warnings that this year’s flu shots may offer little protection against the strains that are here now.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) upper respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu, are due to Wind pathogens compromising the outer body. Wind is one of the basic five elements of TCM, not the wind reported by your weatherman.

This pathogen can enter the body through your skin, muscles, nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract. It can also enter through your pores, which is why it is so important to dress warmly when it is cold outside.

Here are some tips to prevent susceptibility to the Wind pathogen:

  • Keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Wear a hat or hood and a scarf.
  • Wear layers so you can add when you go outside, and take some off when you go inside where it is warm. That means if you go shopping indoors take off your coat. One client’s father was a stickler saying, “cover your neck, take your coat off when you come inside because it won’t do you any good when you go back out, etc.” To this day, she consistently wears a hat and covers her neck when it’s cold. Maybe not-so-coincidentally, she gets very few colds and flu.
  • Don’t sleep under or near an open window. When we are awake our chi (energy) circulates to protect us from the Wind pathogen. When we sleep, this energy withdraws to the interior of our bodies.
  • Always dry your hair before going outside.

Other general tips include:

  • Avoid dairy products during cold and flu season.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. Before the industrial era people slowed down when the sun went down. Our 24/7 culture, with constant exposure to technology, is harmful to our health.
  • Wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap.
  • Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes to avoid spreading germs.
  • If you do have a cold or flu, stay home so you won’t spread it and get plenty of rest.
  • Schedule an acupuncture treatment to help balance your energy.