Archive for the ‘Flu’ Category

Autumn ~ Healthy choices to enhance longevity

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014



Saying goodbye to summer and embracing the cold…

There is a basic question that Chinese medicine tries to answer with all seasonal advice.  That is “How can I adapt to a new climate without draining my reserves?”

Adapting to the change of season requires energy to be spent by our metabolism.  We may notice everyday examples like a burgeoning preference for hot chocolate over summer’s ice cream, or how our pets are napping more even though the weather is not extreme yet.  I noticed how 50 degree weather this morning made me reach for a hat and coat, but I also remember last February when a 50 degree day seemed almost t-shirt weather.  Same temperature, different metabolic setting.

The ancient physicians thought that this multitude of tiny adjustments our bodies make can be made as efficiently as possible, or not at all.  If transition happens harmoniously, less stress is incurred and we stay healthy.  Otherwise we increase the probability of getting sick or otherwise drain resources best used for healthy aging.

The details may vary a little with individual health situations, but the following are very commonly good ideas for most folk:

  • Cover up.  It’s time for long sleeves, long trousers/ dresses hats and light scarves that cover up the acupuncture points GB 20 and Du 14, 16.  Doing this now before the real cold will harmonize the “wei qi 卫气” assisting the immune system to get ready for the winter viruses.  Right now it’s better to sweat into cloth than have the wind get down to the pores.
  • Warm up the digestion.  Main meals should not be raw salad dominant, but should focus on roasted or stewed seasonal vegetables.  Curried food is pungent and warming and perfect for the seasonal change.  Stay away from chilled, iced foods.  Soup is ideal – all that ‘digestion’ on the stove is that much less energy your body has to spend on the meal’s transformation, leaving the body lighter and quicker to adapt.
  • Spend a lot of time outside.  The more you can experience the seasonal changes around you, the more your own system takes the hint.  Have you ever noticed how outdoor cats get thicker, longer lasting coats compared with indoor-only cats who shed all year round?  My cat already has her winter coat, but I’ve seen indoor cats with summer thicknesses yet.  Be an outdoor cat.
  • Catch up on your sleep.  Sleep is where the maintenance happens.  If you’ve been missing sleep, try to nap or go to bed earlier so that you make up about 1/3 of the lost sleep.  A nap is totally worth the time as an investment in your health right now.
  • Exercise to clean the Lungs.  Focus mainly on cardio, qi gong, dance or anything that calls for lots of regular, deep breathing.
  • Cultivate your inner world.  We are naturally less physically active in the colder, darker months, so it is a good idea to spend more time on things your mind enjoys.  Creative writing, music, study, politics, art – try to add a little more to your week.  This slows down ‘cabin fever’ type stresses or seasonal affective disorder, but clinically I see another advantage as well, in relation to the Chinese idea of longevity.  I treat many people in their 80’s and 90’s who feel quite bereft at how physical limitations decrease their quality of life, yet their minds are are totally fine.  Or even younger folk who are injured and can’t play the way they would prefer.  I see that those folk with a lifelong, rich connection to their inner world are healthier and more content.  If your focus all year has been on external activity, this season, start to find out what inspires you on the inside and cultivate a rich relationship with it.



No flu shot this year? Or said ‘yes’ to the flu shot? Start prevention now!

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

If you have already decided that the flu shot is not for you, read on.

If you have decided that you need the injection this year, I totally support your decision. It is obvious that some people’s risk factors require this extra level of protection. Yet the following advice may still be relevant as the flu shot does not come with any guarantee that it will work completely.

In Chinese medicine, preparing for a problem is considered superior than being caught be surprise by the trouble.

What can you do?
Science and Chinese medicine agree – your immune system is influenced by diet, exercise emotions and genetics. Try googling “psychoneuroimmunology.” But science is not yet developed enough to establish how well things are working until you get challenged with a germ. Your own intuition and experience is frequently an important guide in this case.

How can Chinese medicine help?
Chinese medicine is able to look at the individual and understand what works well and what is weak even before symptoms arise. All returning patients of mine can come in for a free cold/ flu-prevention planning session. We will review your current situation and see what areas need support to limit illness during cold and flu season.

Some people need herbs, some just need an adjustment to their diet or pattern of exercise. Some need acupuncture. Some need help through a new stress. Individualized care has as many solutions as there are human situations.

For many of my returning patients, who have taken my advice over the years, they don’t need to change a thing and can look forward to staying healthy during the cold weather.

If you have not been in to see me before, give me a call on my mobile (541) 228-4822 and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have.

No matter what you decide to do, I wish the best of health this season!

Flu Vaccination – shaping the discussion

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I have support for both camps – those who are for and those who are against flu vaccinations.

This is a brief discussion touching directly on recent conversations I have had with professionals and patients.  A more detailed report with actual data and references is in progress.

The decision tree for whether to vaccinate not for the flu is not straightforward.  It is a tangled forest.  I offer my patients’ a discussion, and my opinion is on a case by case basis.  Unlike many of their other health care providers who are rather aggressive in their opinions for or against the vaccines.

Some practitioners try to cast doubt on the patient’s sanity for choosing either option, when there is as yet no single answer for everyone.  This is one opinion I am absolutely unwavering in – you cannot berate lay people for making decisions concerning highly complex technical issues.  Especially on this topic, where the risks involved in either course of action are so rare, and the technology is so new.

All we can say for certain is that some people are fine after vaccination, but some are not.  Some don’t even get symptoms from being infected with flu, some people die (even without a pre-existing condition).  In the effort to derive statistics for the two possibilities, the results are still to be determined.  When the statistics do come out, they will not be as accurate as those, say, in 20 years from now when the technology will exist to have the genetic data of the study group included in the analysis.  Our immune systems are the most diverse part of our species’ genome, and scientists are already trying to incorporate genetic data in the decision tree to match the right med with the right patient (not just the right disease).

The pro vaccination argument is simple – if you can remove yourself from harm’s way while preventing your body from becoming a carrier of harm, then you should.

Yet the 2 flu strains in the news are not widespread killers, we are not dealing with Ebola or even HIV.  Taking some time to think it through is not irresponsible. The fear of medication is not devoid of rationale.  There are some cogent arguments to be considered using any technology, especially technology aimed at our DNA (the immune response involves chromosomal changes in cells that produce antibodies).

I will take just one argument against vaccination that has not been widely discussed in my search of the world’s main media sources.  And one that perhaps could be fixed if there is political will to do so.

Fundamentally the reason to hesitate comes down to a simple issue of trust.

The drug companies and the government have really dropped the ball on this one, given the problems known to the public in the healthcare industry:

  1. We are just a few months past the largest criminal fine ever imposed on a company’s bad behaviour.  Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion for misleading people about inappropriate use of a drug.  We are still trying to understand how widespread this corruption is in the industry.
  2. We are in the middle of understanding the extent of how professionals have been influenced by financial incentives to minimize knowledge of problems.  In some areas of technology, completely objective, independent opinion can be distressingly hard to find.
  3. The vaccine makers have legal “immunity” (a very dark irony) from prosecution for any harm that may arise from using the product, removing a fundamental right of consumers to use products under the safety of accountability.
  4. It is very difficult to get an accurate list of ingredients in the bottle.
  5. The product has been rushed to market so there has not been time for excellent science to be used in analyzing the results.
  6. Science regularly takes years before risks in medications come to light.  We appear to have entered permanent guinea pig status.  If we are pro vaccine, what is the effect of getting vaccinated every year for the rest of our lives?
  7. The decision to not test all flu cases for H1N1 may make sense from a cost-benefit analysis, but it is an appalling public relations move.

Science has maintained a party line of “Trust us” since the first modern technologies arrived.  Such an un-nuanced approach is ignorant of history.  All technological mishaps happen after scientists say “there is no evidence for harm.” All mishaps with medication safety occurred because the drugs require years of study and because we are still learning how to get all the work done in the pre-release stage.  Technological success is regularly achieved after the mishaps, but we must remain free to choose what part we wish to play in story of a technology’s development.

Flu Season

Friday, October 9th, 2009

There is a great deal one can do to stay healthy during this time.   My clinic offers help for 3 situations:

  1. Preparing the immune system before you have been infected.
  2. If infected, getting ahead of the symptoms before they start.  Remember, exposure does not automatically mean you will develop symptoms!
  3. If symptomatic, reducing the severity and duration of symptoms.

Treatment can begin at any stage but I strongly encourage everyone to come in at stage #1.