Supporting Your Immune System AND I’ve Got Herbs for That!

Tis the season of colds and flu’s circulating through the community. With a little care and attention, you can shorten the length of your cold and reduce the severity of the symptoms. Sounds good, hmm?

Step One: Radical Rest

One of the best things you can do for yourself when fighting a bug is getting radical rest. I mean Radical Rest. Recently, I was running a low grade fever – I went to bed on Wednesday evening at 6:00 and got up on Friday at 11:00. I was up for an hour here and there, but then went right back to sleep. We often feel like we have to keep on going, and sometimes circumstances do get in the way, but in whatever ways possible, Radical Rest lets your body dedicate all of its energy to the immune system fighting the viruses and bacteria.

Step Two: I’ve Got Herbs for That

At the very early stages of not feeling well, foods and herbs can be really helpful for fending off a cold or bug, reducing symptoms, or shortening the length of being sick.

There are a number of fabulous foods and herbs with strong anti-bacterial and antiviral properties. Garlic, elderberry, echinacea, goldenseal, olive leaf, and honey are some of the common ones that people may be most familiar with.

There are several fabulous Chinese herbal blends that I work with all the time that are absolutely fantastic for cold symptoms. These include ingredients like indigo, cinnamon, forsythia, or honeysuckle.

Favorite Go-To Blends

Gan Mao Ling: At the very first stages of a cold – swollen glands, or general body aches, and malaise. In combination with rest, this one can be really helpful for keeping a cold at bay.

Cinnamon Twig Soup (Gui Zhi Tang): This one is excellent when your nose starts dripping – you know that moment when its as though a faucet is turned on and you can’t even really blow your nose ‘cuz it just keeps on running? And maybe you’re a little bit chilled as well. This one has cinnamon, of course, and dates, date seed, ginger, and licorice root (but it doesn’t taste like licorice, more like cinnamon!)

Yin Qiao San: This one is for when you have a firey sore throat and are feeling a little feverish. Forsythia and honeysuckle help to vent heat out of the body while fighting the bugs.

What to Do?

Aside from clearing your schedule and embarking on some Radical Rest?

Give me a call and let’s get you some herbs that would be the best match for your symptoms. Or if you would like to have a bottle on hand for when the unwelcome bugs first appear, let me know. We can arrange for you to pick up a bottle here at the clinic!

Immune Kick Start Kit

More details to come – but I’m working on a kit with a mix and match of good herbal first aid blends to choose from – buy 3 for $5 off. Contact me here for more information.

And, lastly, thank you for keeping your germs at home!

Illness is the best reason to not come in for a treatment. My 24 hour cancellation fee is waived for illness – especially if you have projectile snot or a hacking cough. Thank you for helping to keep the clinic space germ free for others and for helping to keep me well enough to keep on treating everyone on my schedule! We’ll get you back in the schedule as soon as your symptoms have calmed down a bit. Questioning whether you should come in? Give me a call or send an email! I look forward to hearing from you!


Nourishing Soups for Winter

As we move into the cold season, our food choices can shift alongside the weather.

I love those moments when someone tells me they are trying to eat well, but they just don’t feel like eating a salad every day. The only time, I say, to be eating a salad, especially in the cold weather, is if you are craving a salad. The myth of a salad every day being the healthiest thing for you is my favorite one to shatter.

If you are looking for yummy ways to cook for this season, think about the warming soups and stews, using produce that is harvested in late fall – the root vegetables and the winter squashes. Your body spends less energy breaking down and digesting food that is warm and cooked. The natural sugars in these foods are so good for the body, and what your body actually needs when you are craving sweets.

One of my favorite recipes is an Autumn Vegetable Soup by Mollie Katzen from her cookbook Still Life With Menu. You may be familiar with her most well known book, The Moosewood Kitchen.

The beauty of this soup is that any of the vegetables can be switched out for any others. Ingredients of your choice can be added to make it into any kind of dish you’d like for deep winter nourishment. This soup is essentially how I start any recipe these days, and you wouldn’t necessarily recognize the end product anymore.

Autumn Vegetable Soup

by Mollie Katzen, Still Life With Menu

2 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 cup chopped leeks
1 1/2 cup quartered Brussels sprouts
1 large carrot chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
1 large potato chopped
1 cup peeled chopped acorn or butternut squash
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste (but not too much!)
2 large crushed garlic cloves
3 cups stock or water
1 cup spinach (Mollie uses Swiss chard or collard greens)
1 large firm tomato chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup of sour cream or yogurt (optional)
sunflower seeds (for garnish)
minced fresh parsley (for garnish)

  • In a large pot cook the first 11 ingredients over moderate heat (covered) for 10-15 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  • Add stock or water. Bring to boil, lower to a simmer. Cover and let cook slowly until everything is tender (20 minutes)
  • Add spinach (or greens) tomato chunks, and chopped bell pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes.
  • Add herbs, soy sauce, and lemon juice and continue to simmer another 5 minutes.
  • If you choose to add in the sour cream or yogurt, stir in just before serving. Garnish each bowl with sunflower seeds and parsley.

Yields 6 servings.

As I said, I make this all the time, but it doesn’t actually look anything like the original recipe anymore. Have fun adapting it to the vegetables and seasonings you enjoy most!


Spring Renewal – Bursting Forth in Spring

With the arrival of sun and warmth, flowers and trees are bursting into bloom, leaves are starting to unfold, and migratory birds are returning to the neighborhood. All around us, we can see the energy of Spring: rapid growth, movement, and change.

One of my assignments in acupuncture school was to sit outside for 15 minutes every day for a week. During that time, I honed my observational skills, while watching the changes in the season on a more subtle level. Watching how our health is a) affected by the change in seasons, and b) what the change in season is like inside each of us has always fascinated me.

As the leaves on the maples and the other trees start to unfold this week, the world is looking brighter, cleaner, and softer. The rain and warmth from the sun helps to wash the

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Dreaming for Groundhog’s Day

The beginning of February is the turning of the corner between Winter & Spring. We are exactly midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox this week. From here on out, it may still feel like we are in the grips of deep winter, but the return of light starts to speed up, as we gain a couple extra minutes of sunlight each day. Check out this chart for time of sunrise and sunset and change in day length for your region.

So what does this have to do with our health? Our bodies respond to the sunlight and promise of warming days just as the plants do outside. As our own sap starts to run and circulate, we become aware of the sludge that has accumulated through the winter months.

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