Here we are again…summer is winding down and we’ve begun another month of seasonal transition. September is neither entirely summer nor fall, yet somehow holds the qualities of both in its ever-balanced hand.
A multitude of transitions have already begun to move through many of our households with the start of a new school year as well as the seasonal shifts that are approaching. Daylight hours are beginning to shorten and, despite the current heat waves and extreme weather assaulting the nation, the crisp edge of fall is beginning to creep to the fore, even if purely on an energetic level.
Chinese medicine offers many beautiful philosophical constructs to help guide us through the transitions of life in a resilient fashion, and one of my favorites is the idea of preparatory medicine (credit due here to the brilliant and kind Stephen Cowan, MD). I have touched on this philosophy in blog form before – Fall Focus on Immunity Part 1 – and feel that it is a topic worth revisiting (probably more than once).
Preparatory medicine acknowledges that life is a constantly fluctuating experience and that certain aspects of this flux can be prepared for, both mentally and physically, in ways that support resilience and ease. Stress accumulates in our systems on a daily basis, in tiny hits or in intense doses, and although we cannot control the specifics of the stressors, we do have a measure of choice in how we process, respond, and move through.
As we speed into fall and subsequently winter, and cold and flu season so cruelly encroach on the vitamin D-rich days of summer, we can utilize the philosophy of preparatory medicine to prepare ourselves and our children to withstand it to the best of our and their ability. Complete prevention is not a realistic goal when it comes to fall and winter illness (germs + school/work environments + sugary holidays galore = the perfect storm), so a more comprehensive perspective involves anticipation and preparation.
Immunity is as shifting as the stressors that challenge it, so here are three things you can do to prepare for this seasonal transition…
1. Start boosting your immune system now.
· There are a myriad of ways to do this, and no one system or protocol is perfect for everyone. Whether you prefer Chinese herbs, Western herbs, nutrition as medicine, acupuncture, essential oils, vitamins and minerals, or a combo of all of the above, the point is to do your research and be prepared to take action. We will support you in this effort by sharing our dietary and supplement recommendations for immunity throughout the coming months…
· At the very least we recommend that adults and children take a high quality, multi-strain probiotic and vitamin D3/K2 combo on a daily basis, as both of these are proven ways to support gut and immune health and they are easy to give both yourself and your kiddos.
· Our Chinese medicine tool kit is overflowing with herbal and other remedies to ward and fight off colds, so don’t hesitate to come in for preparatory wellness treatment and go home with individualized herbal formulas for the whole family.
2. Evaluate your own and your children’s needs and prioritize that which is necessary for each individual’s optimum health and wellness.
· We believe that the best medicine is individualized in nature, gentle on the system, and works with the body to promote wellness.
· The most effective way to cover all of the above bases is to take into consideration the following factors and then take the necessary steps so that these needs are met.
· Factors might include: requirements for sleep, down time, and varied nutritional needs (protein at every meal to stay in balance or adequate fruits and veggies).
3. Be realistic and proactive.
· At the first sign of feeling off, take a moment to step back and listen to what your body or mind might need to regain a sense of balance and wellness, before falling fully into illness.
· This is the time to limit stressors on your or your child’s system, be it inflammatory foods (sugar, dairy, gluten, fried food, etc), late nights, or excessively long to do lists or after school commitments.
· Calm your mind and entire nervous system with a daily meditation practice, which research has shown to improve immunity, not to mention focus and happiness.