Our summer has lasted longer than usual, but chilly mornings are bringing cooler fall days! The ancient Chinese had some intriguing ideas about how we get sick, and what we can all do to prevent colds and flus during seasonal changes. They believed that we all have a protective layer on our skin, which we think of now as our pores, called the wei qi. This protective layer gets weaker during times of seasonal change, and it can get “penetrated” by pathogenic evils like wind, cold, and heat. In the fall, the wind pushes heat and cold through our wei qi to cause chills, fever, sore throat, body aches, fatigue…hmm, sounds like a common cold or flu! Keeping this theory in mind, in order to keep yourself healthy you must work to strengthen your wei qi against the wind and cold. Here are my top tips!
1. Wear a scarf. Wind breaks through your protective layer at your neck, entering at the front to cause a sore throat, or from the back to cause chills, fever, and body aches. Keeping this area covered when temperatures are cool and protecting your neck from the wind will keep you from coming down with anything. Think about protecting your neck even when you’re warm; if you run in the mornings or during windy weather it’s always a good idea to wear a buff. I know when I run in cooler weather without one I’m left with a hacking cough that can take days to go away!
2. Try Dry Brushing. Brushing your skin daily with a dry brush activates your wei qi to protect you against things that can make you sick. I recommend finding a long-handled brush that allows you to detach the handle. I found mine at Whole Foods; you can also purchase one here. Give yourself 3-5 minutes before showering to brush your legs, arms, back, and torso, always toward your heart, turning your skin a light pink color. This practice also increases your circulation and encourages lymph drainage, so it’s great to do all year round.
3. Cool Down Your Showers. At the end of your shower, turn the water a bit cooler, then back to warm, then cooler, warm, and end on cool. I know it sounds awful, but it works! This is another way to stimulate your protective qi. Physically, it seals your pores, and also makes your hair shiny by sealing the follicles!
Now you have a bit more understanding of how Chinese Medical theory works, and how you and your family can stay healthy this fall! If you start to have a sore throat, fever, or chills, don’t hesitate to give us a call! Acupuncture and herbal medicine will get you back to your best self in no time. And stay tuned for another blog about home remedies to stop that sickness at the first tickle in your throat!