As we head into what has been dubbed “cold and flu season”, it is important to remember that while catching a cold or the flu is possible, it doesn’t have to be probable.

The lungs control breathing and taking in the outside world through the inhalation of air places the lungs in a tender state of being easily attacked by outside pathogenic factors and illnesses. Taking particular care of your lungs means we can better protect ourselves against this depleting season. Below are some ideas on how to nourish your lungs, which will allow you enjoy this season to the fullest.

Skin Care
The lungs are the governing organ of the skin and one function of the lungs is the dispersing of moisture to the skin, maintaining its suppleness and elasticity. Because the skin acts as the boundary between the outer environment and the interior of the body, healthy skin protects the body from external pathogens. The relationship is not one-sided, which means that the skin can also influence its governing organ.  So a little extra pampering during the colder months of the year, is never a bad thing. Massage, exfoliation or salt scrubs are a great way to nourish the skin, improve circulation and bolster your lung strength.

Moderate exercise, such as light to moderate cardio or yoga, is beneficial, as are breathing exercises and tai chi. The key with exercise is to do just enough to feel good, but not so much as to feel fatigued. Avoid vigorous exercises in chilly or windy weather if possible.

Food Therapy
When it comes to food, think the warmer, the better. Raw, cold and chilled foods are not great choices as we head into the cold winter months.  I often talk in the clinic about how cold foods can tax the spleen. The spleen and lungs have a close relationship, so when the spleen isn’t strong, the lungs will be affected. Also, spices can be a delicious way to strengthen your immune system and provide benefit to the lungs — try ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg.

East Asian Medicine
Without a doubt, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also help maintain healthy strong lungs and support your immune system. There are a variety of formulas that can help with scratchy throats, chills, body aches, earaches and congestion. An acupuncture visit in the midst of fighting off a cold or the flu can decrease the severity of the illness and shorten the recovery time.  And utilizing acupuncture as preventive care prior to the season changing is always a good idea.

For the Kids
Children can be more susceptible to colds and flus than we are, so I have included some massage techniques you can do on an ailing child. They are meant to be done gently and without discomfort. You can do them multiple times a day to help improve your child’s condition.

• Headaches, congestion and fever – Place the thumbs gently in the center of your child’s forehead, between the eyebrows, and move them outward to the temples with gentle pressure. Repeat 50-100 times.

• Chills, fever and body aches – Place your thumbs at the base of the back of your child’s skull, just under the occipital ridge, and rub downward to the protruding spinal bone. Repeat 50-100 times.

• Shortness of breath, cough and phlegm in the lungs – Place your index and middle fingers in the center of your child’s chest between the nipples and gently fan your fingers outward to the sides of the body. Repeat 50-100 times.  You can also cup your hand and gently tap on either the chest or the upper back to help with these symptoms.

No matter what or how, protecting and strengthening the lungs is beneficial to your overall health.  By incorporating these recommendations during the fall and winter months, you can help keep your body functioning at optimal levels all year round.

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