This post is the first in our Elemental Family Focus on Immunity series, where I will be touching on various aspects of supporting and preparing the immune system for the upcoming cold and flu season…
Happy end of summer, friends! This is a special time in our house because my daughter is starting kindergarten this fall! How the heck did that happen? Just the thought fills me with a myriad of conflicting emotions: excitement for all of the new and enriching experiences ahead of her, sadness for the inevitable passage of time that starting school really brings home, and, to be totally honest, a fair amount of trepidation at all of the germs that are awaiting her in a school environment.
As a practitioner who treats both children and adults, I certainly deal with a fair share of germy-ness, but it feels different when I know I won’t be there to make sure my daughter washes her hands before she eats or doesn’t accidentally use someone else’s cup, and so on. In the hopes of tempering my anticipatory germaphobia, we’ve recently started a simple and straightforward immune boosting regimen in my house. Cold and flu season is just around the corner, and Chinese medicine truly shines in its preparatory approach to illness.
Preparatory medicine is a unique approach to supporting immunity and it differs in one significant aspect from preventive medicine. Preventive medicine is a buzzword in our ever-evolving healthcare landscape and is focused on early screening, counseling, and other interventions to detect and prevent disease. This is an invaluable practice, especially when it comes to serious and life-threatening illness.
Preparatory medicine, on the other hand, is more applicable to the day-to-day illnesses that I see on a regular basis in my clinic, and that many of you parents are more than used to dealing with: coughs, colds, fevers, tummy upset, etc. Preparatory medicine offers the perspective that building immunity is a developmental process. Successfully fighting these types of illnesses contributes positively to the complexity of a flexible and robust immune system.
Trust me, as a parent this is a very challenging concept to keep in my brain. No one wants to see their child or partner, or self for that matter, feeling icky and down for the count. It is lousy for sure, but it can help to remember that much of our immune system is acquired over time, so with each illness the body really does get smarter and stronger.
So, what does preparatory medicine look like?
- Thinking ahead to the next challenge on the horizon, be it seasonal or developmental
- Supporting your unique adaptive style to ensure as smooth a transition as possible into the next stage: for my daughter this meant preparing her both emotionally and physically for the transition into school
- Treating the body in preparation of that next challenge, ie starting immune prep well before cold season hits or prepping the body for spring allergy season during wintertime
Now that we have set the appropriate expectations around getting sick, we can move into tools for HOW to prepare the body! Over the next few posts, we will cover dietary, supplement, lifestyle, and wellness massage recommendations.