You've pulled sweaters and jackets out of storage and trees have shed their leaves - winter is here! Humans are part of the natural cycle of life. As the seasons change from the heat of summer to the cold of winter, our bodies' needs change as well. We can protect our bodies and boost our winter immunity from viruses and bacteria using the five branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine - acupuncture, bodywork (tuina), nutrition, exercise and Chinese herbology.
Chinese pediatric massage, or tuina, is an easy and fun way for parents and kids to keep germs away. Just a few simple techniques will bolster immune systems and make for a more healthy winter season.
Wind Pond is at the back of the head, just below the base of the skull, in the two depressions formed between the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. At the first sign of any sickness, or to relieve headache, dizziness, or fever, press these points with the pads of two fingers and rotate in a small circle, 30-50 times.
This acupuncture point is located at the midline of the chest, level with the nipples. To relieve coughs, wheezes, or chest congestion, press and rotate the point for a couple of minutes, and then use the thumb side of your hands to push outward from the midline to the side of the chest.
Tuina on the lung meridian can boost immunity and help with symptoms of the common cold, including cough, dry throat, and stuffy chests. Start at the last joint of the 4th (ring) finger, on the palm side of the hand. Using your first two fingers, stroke up to the tip of the ring finger. Pick up your fingers, go back to the joint, and repeat 100 to 500 times. That sounds like a lot, but takes just a few minutes!
Yintang is located on the forehead, on the midpoint right between the eyebrows. This point is very calming and refreshing, and it can also clear up stuffy noses and dry nasal discharge! Using a finger or two, gently push from the point up to the hairline. Return to the point and continue to push upwards for a few minutes.
Feeding Your Family for the Winter:
Seasonal foods strengthen our bodies and help prevent or fight off illness. Winter is a time when we rest and store physical energy. Because it is colder and darker outside, we seek inner warmth and protection through the foods we eat. This includes richer, denser foods such as:
- Soups, stews, steamed foods
- Winter squash and root veggies
- Roasted nuts
- Whole grains
Preparation makes a difference too! Cooking foods for a longer time, at lower temperature, with less water (such as baking, braising, or roasting) warms us from the inside out.
Stretching your lung and kidney meridians during the winter season helps keep energy flowing smoothly and your immune system strong. Try these simple stretches in the morning or in the evening right before bed.
To activate these two meridians, stand with your feet more than hip distance apart and raise both your arms over your head in a wide V. Stretch your head back as far as it feels comfortable. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the sensation of your chest opening.
Next, look straight ahead, step one leg forward and bend your knee into in a high lunge, keeping your arms up and out. Keep breathing! Slowly move your front leg back to join the other one and move the sole of your foot up to your ankle – or even higher on your calf if you feel comfortable. Move your arms closer together, straight above your head, and feel strong and steady like a tree. Take a few more deep breaths here and then place both feet on the ground again, returning your arms to your sides. Repeat this cycle with the other leg.
Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to protect bodies from winter germs! Here are a few traditional formulas we've made into a more modern tincture version for our ChiKids line.
Yu Ping Feng San (B4Vax): is terrific for boosting the immune system, especially if you're prone to colds and flu or have recently been around other people who are ill.
Yin Qiao: Take this formula at the very first signs of a sore throat and it can knock viruses down quickly, often greatly shortening the course and severity of an illness.
Sang Ju Yin: Here's another excellent herbal choice to use with the first signs of illness. It's especially useful for children.
Gan Mao Ling: This formula contains both antiviral and antibacterial herbs. It's great for cold and flu symptoms such as sore throat, fatigue, fever, chills, runny nose, or clogged ears.
Bi Yan Pian: The name of this formula translates to “frontal sinus pills.” And as the name suggests, Bi Yan Pian works to clear congestion in the frontal sinuses and dry up those runny noses!
The beauty of these simple treatments is that they work not only for prevention but for treatment as well! With just a little bit of planning, you can help keep your family healthy every single day of the winter season!