Autumn bugs and self care.



So it’s time for the relentless assault of small, annoying illnesses that rip through homes and workplaces.  Her’s our Chinese Medicine guide to surviving the stretch between now and xmas.  

People with children have a lot to answer for.  They’re the chief vector becasue of their frontline position of connection with the mucousy petri-dish of a reception or year one class full of developing immune systems.  Try not to sit near people with children or have anything to do with them.  They’re ill because they’re exposed to children and they’re tired, have frequently lost themselves in the process of being a parent, and are utterly overwhelmed.  That said whether you’re a parent or not they describe the issues of health maintenance well.  Unknown

 In Chinese medical terms there are three important aspects of vulnerability to illness. The kidneys, the stomach and the lungs. 

Tiredness is a big factor in getting ill. For tiredness here, read the the kidneys.  The kidneys are key to osmotic processes all over the body, maintenance of blood pressure and in Chinese terms the core strength and power of the body.  Naturally this encompasses the immune system.  You’re tired out, your immune system will be weaker.  Fairly obvious really. If your adrenals have become involved in the process then your sleep will be impaired, and poor sleep makes you even more tired and potentially even more adrenal fatigued. 

The stomach is responsible for the uptake of fluids and so provide the substance for hydration of lung tissue, hydration of the skin and provision of the material necessary for a sneeze to be effective.  Poor hydration is a big issue in the strength of the immune system, especially after the hot dry summer we’ve just had.  A lot of people are chronically under-hydrated.  To maintain the immune system, drink a lot of water.  Drink it warm so the body doesn’t have to heat it up.  Coffee, tea and alcohol are big dehydrators so drink even more if you use these.  If you end up in the nightmare land of rotavirus or or noro, drink a lot of water afterwards. They dehydrate your gut and stomach.

The lung is responsible for the maintenance of hydration of the mucous membranes and the skin.  It is the organ chiefly responsible for sneezing.  A sneeze is a wonderful thing. As the the immune system comes into contact with an incoming pathogen invading through some of the vulnerable areas around the nape of the neck and upper back you sneeze. The sneeze creates a tiny temperature raise and sweat, and shuts the skin pores to the climatic invasion from outside the body. images

If the skin is breached there is a suspension of the integrity outer immune system and one of the huge range of viruses, bacteria or mould spores in the air can enter the system and start producing symptoms. Especially if you have any contact with children, as discussed.  

Practically speaking the following measures will assist the immune system in the run up to winter. 

Keep your neck covered from cold air which threatens the warmth and flow of blood and fluid to the area around the nape of the neck.  Help your lungs protect your system. Wear a scarf. Avoid draughts, sort the air con at work.

Don’t dehydrate.  Keep your stomach well hydrated. Eat hydrating foods. Avoid diuretics. This includes rooibos tea. 

Don’t become over tired.  Difficult, I know, but there you are, wind down, try and get adequate sleep wherever possible.  If you feel even slightly heroic viz a viz your workload or social life, you’re in the danger zone and need to back off as soon as possible.  Autumn and winter are not a time for heroism.  Keep that nonsense for spring. 

The stomach, lung and kidneys have emotional aspects that are key to understanding the important emotional priorities. of the season.  Overdoing it pushing your kidneys too hard becoming ‘heroic’ implies a failure to connect with your true physical capacities and to be living in fantasies that exceed the reality of your own being. 

Keep it real. If you don’t it will only bite you in the arse at some point. If you’re ill and can not go to work then don’t. Trying to strive through it isn’t a good idea.  But then  lets face it, that does depend on your terms and conditions….

 The stomach is essentially about fulfilling your own needs.  Making sure you get enough to keep you going in the right way and making sure you look after yourself.  Autumn is about taking stock of where you are at and management of resources into the winter.  Try and do this and nourish yourself.

Failure of the lungs can imply a range of possibilities. The diaphragm is enormously important in mutiple aspects of the health of your system. For simplicities sake we can say that poor diphragmatic movement can signify a sense of life being overwhelming in the challenges it poses, especially round loss and beravement, or hurt and truama.  Take time for life when you can, at this time of year you aren’t as resilient as you usually are.  

The knock on effect of illness hanging around, something having breached the outer walls of your body and having some residence inside your system is a slowing down of your digestion leading to a build up of mucous.  Mucous then provides a breeding ground for moulds, and fungi, the further impairment of your digstion and the vectors of  internal transport that serve your outer immune system.  Things can’t move readily in a damp swampy environment.


You have no energy, coffee, energy drinks and chocolate won’t save you.  Sad but true, that mid afternoon coffee and muffin will make things worse.  

If you’re wandering around feeling like you have some sort of lingering bug, no energy, have a foggy head, loose bowels and poor digestion then stay off mucous forming food like cheese, milk, peanut butter. Anything that isn’t generally easy to digest for you is a bad idea.  Actually the same applies to constipation too.  Things have come to halt. Eat things that are easy for your system to work with.  

Cold foods like salads and smoothies look like a brilliant idea. Full of natural goodness. You really feel like you’re treating yourself. But.. but..  you have to heat it up which is an expensive thing for your body to do in a cold time of year when you’re tired.  And it’ll be hard to digest if you have to waste energy doing that, so it won’t serve you well beyond boosting your morale. If you can’t assimilate it then it will just impair digestion even further.  

The best food to eat at this time of year is soups and stews.  If you’re generally vegetarian but occasionally eat chicken or fish, then now’s the time to include that. If you’re veggie then warm pulse rich food.  Don’t eat heavy meals late, don’t skip breakfast. 

in a sense it comes back to this  as it always does. Just try and keep hydration, sleep, and regular bowel movements and you’ll kind of be ok.  God knows how we’ll get through the uncertainty of what’s happening to this country which I think  is a big factor for all of us at the moment.  None of us know where we are at.  Hang on in there, it’ll be summer again soon.