Who's this Uninvited Guest who Keeps Making you Sick?
A curious thing is happening this season. Many people I know, just when they’re finally over their last cold and ready to start getting out there and exercising again, back into normal life, etc… are finding themselves sick AGAIN.
I hear people getting down on and judging themselves, wondering what they’re doing wrong.
While it may be true that these colds can be clues that we’re not caring for ourselves, I’d like to offer a deeper look that may help you feel a bit more understanding of what may be going on here.
1) Chinese medicine thinks of bacterium and viruses (pathogens) as “Evil Qi”, and our body’s immune system as part of our “Righteous Qi”
Nice descriptions, eh?
Whichever is stronger “wins the battle”.
This means that even if you have an incredibly strong immune system, when a pathogen comes along with even stronger Qi, it wins, and you get an uninvited cold, couch surfing in your livingroom. Pretty basic.
So whether our immunity is weak or strong, the answer is the same for all of us: we must do all we can to keep our immune systems as strong as possible.
2) There’s a very common and particular imbalance among patients who are constantly sick, and it’s a completely different problem from the prior example and therefore needs a completely different treatment.
Rather than being related to the strength of the pathogen, it’s more related to a pathogen getting into a level of the body where it just gets “stuck”.
While this isn’t really how we think about it in Chinese Medicine, I can explain it in a simplified way by saying that it’s like the body tenses up, which creates an environment where pathogens can lurk in hidden tight places where the immune system and drugs can’t access them to rid them from the body once and for all. While meds or herbs can maybe lower the level of the pathogen, temporarily make the cold feel like it’s better, it’s really just gone latent and hidden in the body.
This imbalance is very common among patients who tend to be high-strung or who have just been under a lot of stress. The same imbalance which causes a tendency for tension also creates this dynamic which allows the pathogen to get stuck.
We need a very specific herbal remedy to release it for good, and it’s AMAZING how well and quickly this treatment works when this is the causative factor.
Where does building the immunity come in?
In my Fall newsletter, I wrote about the importance of the Metal season for building our immunity, which is related to our lungs, and I gave tips for strengthening it in preparation for winter.
While it is not quite the time now to be focusing on our lungs, there is still a lot that we can do TODAY.
* When you’re symptom-free, focus on adding more sour foods to your diet, which contract scattered energies: sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, salt plums, rosehip tea, vinegar, yogurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and the sour varieties of apples, plums, and grapes.
Cook with less water, at lower heat, for longer time, which internalizes one’s focus and energy. The more our energy is internalized with food, the deeper it goes for storage in our root. Just where we want it.
In the cold, you can add more salty foods, which move your energy downward and inward, to be stored deep inside where our heat also resides.
I have found myself advising many people over the past few weeks to do meditation/relaxation CD’s. Why? Because even the calmest among us are impacted by stress, and I can see it showing up medically. Stress is a MAJOR immune depleter, so make a commitment, at least once a day, to incorporate de-stressing techniques.
This is important for ALL of us, but even more so for those people with the second imbalance I mentioned.
Lastly…maybe you just really haven’t been taking care of yourself?
If constant sickness is self-inflicted, then use your illness as a gentle cue for what needs to be changed.
Regardless of the cause of frequent illness, Chinese medicine can help.