In his guidebook You Got Sick-Now What?, licensed acupuncturist and oriental medicine specialist Tom Ingegno introduces basic tools from traditional Asian healing modalities that will help alleviate the severity and shorten the duration of annoying cold and flu symptoms. Tom shares a variety of holistic techniques that encourage healing the natural way. While encouraging heat therapy, the intake of a variety of medicinal soups, breathing exercises, massages with a Unique tool, and acupuncture, Tom presents home remedies that have been used safely-and often in conjunction with modern medicine-for thousands of years.
You Got Sick-Now What? provides alternative ways to heal from a cold or flu, allowing anyone to throw off those covers, get back on their feet quickly, and begin living life fully once again!
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You Got Sick—Now What?Seven Secrets from Oriental Medicine to Eliminate the Cold and Flu
By TOM INGEGNO
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Tom Ingegno
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Scariest Thing in the World ... If It Happens to Be a Slow News Week
It seems like just yesterday everyone was panicking about the avian flu. We braced ourselves for the worst pandemic in the history of the world. Chickens were slaughtered and burned en masse to prevent the spread of the disease. People were quarantined, and the media made us afraid to leave our houses. My mother-in-law even convinced my wife to buy Tamiflu from one of those less-than-reputable Internet pharmacies. Although there were some outbreaks around the world in small, isolated cases, after all was said and done, few people actually ever contracted this flu, and even fewer died from it. Now we have the swine flu (also known as H1N1) rearing its ugly head, and although scientists, doctors, and health care workers alike are saying it's milder than the regular flu, good old H1N1 is getting more coverage than the O. J. Simpson case did. Why is there all this chaos for something that happens every season? Chances are it has been a slow news week.
I have been working in the field of Oriental medicine for over a decade, and it amazes me that people will cancel their acupuncture appointments when they are sick. Ask any acupuncturist or Oriental medicine practitioner, and he or she will tell you that when you are ill is when you need treatment the most. It seems that most of these patients were genuinely concerned for the well-being of others and did not wish to spread their germs to them. Although very thoughtful, it did leave them isolated at home for about a week without any palliative care.
It is the intention of this book to introduce Western individuals to some basic tools from traditional Asian healing modalities that will help reduce the duration of their symptoms. Most of these techniques are considered folk medicine in Asia and are frequently reached for at the first signs of a cold or flu, and are definitely used prior to going to the doctor. Hopefully this will provide you with some relief and shorten your self-quarantine.
Most of these remedies are so old, scholars often argue about their origins. These techniques and concepts have never gone out of style because they focus on helping the body overcome the disease instead of focusing on attacking the disease directly. This means that no matter what strain of a new virus or bacteria hits you, these remedies should help provide an easing of symptoms and a shorter duration of the ailment.
In each of the following chapters, a modality will be introduced that has been time tested for thousands of years. I have made attempts to deliver the safest and simplest techniques that still are effective. The chapters are in ascending order of difficulty of technique and can be used in conjunction with most of the other techniques. You will also find that certain therapies are even more effective when paired with others, but most therapies can be done on their own. You may use these techniques in conjunction with modern medicine, including prescriptions from your doctor or over-the-counter remedies. It is also safe to use other holistic modalities, such as healing touch, herbal medicine, and homeopathy, if you feel they are appropriate. If you consult an Oriental medical practitioner, the practitioner may have a different opinion about some of the techniques, but please keep in mind that this information is designed to be safe for all people who use it properly, and with nearly six thousand years of knowledge coming from all over Asia, techniques and theories differ widely depending on their particular school of thought and training.
Try these techniques and listen to yourself. Remember which ones work best and use them the second you feel like you are catching a cold or the flu. You may be able to bypass the entire course of illness.
Chapter TwoHeat Therapy: Sweating It Out
I'm not sure if there is any fact to the old adage "Starve a fever, feed a cold," but I do know one true biological fact that is not as catchy but is of much greater use. That fact is that organisms live and function most efficiently closer to the upper range of their temperature threshold. What this means is that bacteria, viruses, cows, otters, and humans all function and have a better ability to survive on the warmer side of their temperature limits.
For example, let's say you were stranded on a desert island with unlimited food and water, but no fire, no shelter, and no real way for you to regulate your temperature externally. If it were a constant 85 degrees outside, you could survive nicely with no real problems. If the temperature went up to 110 degrees and there was no way to cool yourself down, chances are you would eventually overheat and die, a mere 25 degrees hotter. Now if the temperature dropped from 85 degrees to 60 degrees, 50 degrees, or 40 degrees, you would be cold, but your body would eventually adjust, and while functions like metabolism would slow, you would still be able to function.
This example is true for most organisms, and the temperature range is much narrower for single-celled bacteria and viruses. Microbiologists exploit this fact all the time by cooling these simple organisms down to a state of near-suspended animation. How do they kill them? Well, other than harsh chemicals, heat does the trick nicely.
What does any of this have to do with how you can beat the cold and flu with heat? Your body naturally knows the answer. When we get a fever, it is not a symptom of the infection causing your body temperature to rise, but rather your body making it harder for the infecting organism to work. It is literally trying to burn out its attacker. Sometimes our body pushes things too far, and we can have complications from the fever; this is clearly the time for medical intervention, especially in children and the immunodeficient, but in most cases the body knows exactly how far to push.
Oriental medicine compares the skin to a battleground between your immune system, referred to as wei qi (way chee), and the invading pathogen. The skin is a physical barrier that helps keep the enemy out. In fact, both Eastern and Western medicine acknowledge the skin as the largest immune system organ in the body. As the enemy pushes in and advances, we may get chills. When the wei qi is winning, we start to feel hot and get feverish. When the pores open and we begin to sweat, the theory is that our wei qi has won the battle, and along with the sweat, the invading pathogen is being driven out. From a Western standpoint, when the fever breaks, we sweat, start feeling better, and are on the road to recovery.
This is the easiest of all techniques to do because it requires very little effort on your part, which is especially nice when you are feeling under the weather, and can be accomplished several different ways. Please feel free to do any or all of them.
1. One of the best methods is vigorous exercise. As you work out, you increase circulation, which helps pump white blood cells to the infection. This process will help carry away metabolic waste, raise your internal body temperature, and most importantly, make you sweat! I understand that with body aches, congestion, headaches, and chills, you might not feel up to moving much, but if you can get moving, you will feel better, at least for the amount of time you are working out. Your preferred workout method is okay, but remember not to push yourself too hard. This is not a workout to max your body out, but it's just to get things moving and warmed up. Please check out the qigong chapter for some gentle exercises to help you boost your immune system and heat up at the same time.
2. The next method I would like to talk about is the easiest and my favorite. That being said, you will probably get some weird looks in your household. When you start to feel ill, pull out your cold-weather clothes. Yes, put on your warmest sweater, hat, scarf, sweat pants, wool socks, and jacket, and get under some blankets. You will eventually start to feel hot. This is good. Stay under these layers until you have a good solid sweat going.
3. This suggestion works very well with bundling up. Increase your intake of hot liquids. Tea and soup are great. Chicken soup has been shown to have immune-boosting functions, so why not use it? Oriental medicine would look not only at the temperature but also at the spiciness of the food. Some Oriental "cold and flu" soup recipes will be given in the next chapter, but remember, you can always add a bit of hot sauce or red pepper flakes.
4. Hot showers and baths can be used to help open the pores as well. You might not notice if you are sweating, but the added heat will help drive out the pathogens. In Japan, many people soak in hot springs with temperatures as high a 107°. That is good, but it is also very hot. Temperatures between 102 and 106 will do just fine. Spend at least twenty minutes in water this warm and try to keep as much of your body submerged as possible. If at all possible, try and get the back of your neck underwater as well. There are several acupuncture points in this area that open directly to the inside of your body. This is why even on mild days you may see Chinese people wearing a scarf; they are covering this area to keep out pathogens. If you are also sore and achy, feel free to add 1/4 cup of Epsom salt to the bath. If you have a stuffy nose, add a few drops of essential oils, like eucalyptus or peppermint. The most important thing here is that you are helping your wei qi heat the body to drive out the pathogen.
Feel free to combine any or all of these methods with the methods discussed in the next chapters. Please note that if your body temperature goes higher than 104 °F without sweating or the fever does not break within a few days, you need medical attention!
Chapter ThreeSoups: Simple, Tasty, Effective
If you have your favorite recipe passed down from your grandmother, please use it. Comfort may help ease the symptoms of a cold or flu all by itself. Here are some basic recipes to add into rotation to help you bounce back to health. I have chosen a few simple recipes, because the ingredients are easy to obtain, they taste good, and they are quick to make. There are thousands of soup recipes that can be useful to treat a cold. Simple additions to your favorite recipe may boost the health benefits for you.
Nearly everyone has a favorite chicken soup recipe, and health benefits have actually been found to back up the claims that chicken soup actually does support immune system function. When people call it Jewish penicillin, there is some real truth to that. If you have a favorite recipe, try adding any or all of the following ingredients to taste. Spices like cinnamon and hot pepper add heat to your system and help you sweat. If you have a favorite hot sauce, go ahead and add a few drops to your soup. It will have the same properties as the hot pepper and may actually help clear your sinuses as well! Licorice root (not the candy) can be added to help soothe a sore throat and has the properties of smoothing the qi flow throughout the acupuncture channels. One of the major theories of Oriental medicine is that when disease is present in the body, the qi (life energy) doesn't circulate smoothly. Licorice is said to harmonize the channels and help the qi return to a normal flow. Onions, scallions, and garlic all have been shown to boost immune system function and have been praised for their antibacterial and antiviral properties. In Chinese herbal medicine, these are said to help open the orifices and drive out pathogens. Mushrooms, especially reishi, miitake, and shitake, have been shown to have high levels of polysaccarides and amino acids that strongly stimulate immune system function.
It might be a good idea to avoid the following soups when you are sick:
Any soup that has dairy in it. Dairy produces mucus, as a result of the amino acid found in milk (specifically cow's milk) called casein. Casein is extremely sticky. In fact, many white glues use this compound as the main ingredient. Have you ever wondered why there is a cow on the front of a very popular type of glue? Casein, when ingested by most humans, cannot be broken down easily, which can be a problem even for those who are not lactose intolerant. The compound binds to most surfaces in the body, especially the mucous membranes, making an already unpleasant situation much worse. On a side note, many holistic nutritionists say to eliminate dairy completely from one's diet. Besides increased mucous production, dairy products have been linked to arthritis and several gastrointestinal disorders.
Cold soups. Many of you would instinctively cringe at the thought of a cup of cold gazpacho while you are suffering with the chills, fever, throbbing head and all the other symptoms that make up a cold or flu. It's a good idea to avoid them just in case. Cold soups will lower your core body temperature, counteracting what your body is trying to do with the fever.
Thick, heavy soups or stews. Putting heavy foods into your system when you feel sick probably also seems unappealing, but some people may feel the need to eat something heavy in an attempt to give the body more energy to fight the cold. This isn't a bad theory, but in practice it further taxes the digestive system because it makes those nutrients harder to absorb. Soups that have a thin broth are more easily absorbed during illness and also provide you with additional fluids to keep you hydrated and help flush out any metabolic waste from fighting your illness.
In the Chinese language, the word for soup is tang. This word not only means a soup that you would eat for the simple enjoyment of food, but also an herbal decoction, including teas. The use of this word points out a strong connection to the theory that food is medicine. In fact, Chinese five spice powder, a common spice mixture used in Chinese cooking, is said to balance out the five elements of the body. Without getting into a lengthy discussion about Oriental medical theory, the five elements of the body are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each of these elements has particular functions, energy pathways, and organs they influence, and they each even have tastes and smells. When a person is healthy, these five elements function in unison; when illness sets in, one of these elements gets too strong or too weak, throwing the energy systems out of balance. The Chinese five spice powder was meant not only to hit the five different tastes, but also to harmonize the energetics of the food, making a simple meal even more nutritious.
The next few pages include some simple soup recipes; please feel free to modify them slightly to suit your tastes. With all of these recipes, it is strongly suggested that while drinking them, you bundle up and remain that way until you break a sweat.
Simple Chai Tea
Technically, this is not a soup, but it does have several aromatic herbs in it that provide an added boost to help you recover from a cold. Chai tea has an interesting history. It was really a marriage between Indian teas, which usually included herbs and spices, and a proper British black tea. It evolved sometime during the British occupation of India, when milk was added to a traditional Indian herbal tea. As stated before, avoid milk because it produces phlegm. Try adding soy milk instead. There are thousands of chai recipes available, and herbs can be omitted or added as you see fit. Most traditional blends take quite a bit of time to prepare. This may not be completely traditional, but we are looking for a more therapeutic effect.
Ingredients: 3 thumbnail-sized slices of fresh ginger about ¼-inch thick 1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves 3 cardamom pods (or 4 seeds) 3 black pepper seeds 2 teaspoons of a good black tea, preferably an Indian blend like Darjeeling. You can also use 2 tea bags for ease
Take the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper, and crack them up, either by using a mortar and pestle or by placing the ingredients in a bag and hitting them with a spoon. This will release some of the oils and will provide a stronger flavor. If you do this too far in advance, say a day or two, these oils will dissipate and you will lose both the flavor and the therapeutic effect.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the crushed herbs and ginger. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the tea and let it steep for another 5 minutes.
Strain into a mug and add sugar or honey to taste.
*** If you were to add milk, it can be added after the tea and allowed to simmer for a few minutes. ***
All these aromatics are said to open the sinuses as well as warm the body. Hopefully, drinking this will help open pores and make you break a sweat.
Today many people make chai tea with green, oolong, white, or red tea. Black tea is considered to be the "warmest" of teas, according to Oriental medicinal principles on food. It is said that the preparation process, namely drying and fermenting the tea, adds a warming property to it. Teas that are not fermented—such as green, white, and most herbal teas, as well as oolong, which is partially fermented—are cooler in comparison. To get the most "heat" into the chai tea, black tea is suggested, but if you dislike the taste or wish to avoid the caffeine, you can substitute another type of tea.
Ginger and Scallion Soup
Here's a very simple recipe. The two main ingredients will open the orifices (sinus and nasal passages) and warm the interior. It is an extremely light broth and can be drunk throughout the duration of your illness.
2–3 scallions chopped, both the white and green parts 3–5 thumbnail-size pieces of ginger about ¼ " thick 1–2 cloves of garlic minced Salt to taste Black pepper to taste
Take 4 cups of water or chicken broth and add ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until about 3 cups are left. Bundle up and drink 1 cup every half hour until sweating begins.
Gui Zhi Tang (Cinnamon Twig Formula)
Classically, this formula is used for conditions in Oriental medicine called internal cold, referring to diseases that make your body feel cold on the inside. It is extremely safe to use because most of these herbs are common food items. This soup is more of a Chinese herbal formula. You might want to have a discussion with your acupuncturist or herbalist on the many herbal formulas used to treat the cold and flu. The wide variety of formulas for these conditions work best at the first sign of a cold. The entire scope of herbal medicine for the cold and flu would be too great for the contents of this book, and for the sake of simplicity, this formula will be the only one included.
9 g Gui Zhi (cinnamon twig) 9 g Bai Shao Yao (peony root) 9 g Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) 12 Dao Zao (Chinese dates) 6 g Zhi Gan Cao (honey-fried licorice root)
These herbs are fairly common in Asian grocery stores and can definitely be found online. There are many prepared pill versions of this formula, but having it warm on hand adds a bit more heat to the mix. This formula is prepared by placing all the herbs in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring the herbs to a boil and simmer until there are approximately 3 cups left. Strain the liquid and drink 1 cup three times per day. This can be repeated for three days or until the fever has broken.
Please note that licorice (the herb, not the candy) has been shown to raise blood pressure slightly. If you have high blood pressure or are taking medication for your blood pressure, avoid this formula.
Chapter FourQiqong and Other Weird Terms for Breathing
When you say terms like qigong (pronounced chee kung) or explain breathing exercises to someone who is not familiar with these terms, you are bound to get some odd looks. In the last twenty years, Americans have started to embrace tai chi, the relaxing and slow-paced martial art, because of its many health benefits. Tai chi itself is a form of qigong. A simple explanation of qigong is a series of gentle movements coordinated with the breath to help promote health. It is theorized that the body has pathways called meridians. These meridians bring qi, or energy, to nourish all tissue. When we are sick, it is believed that the qi is either too weak or stuck in a location where illness can set in. Qigong is used to help strengthen the qi as well as smooth the flow through the meridians, thus helping your body recover.
Excerpted from You Got Sick—Now What? by TOM INGEGNO Copyright © 2011 by Tom Ingegno. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsAcknowledgments and Dedication....................vii
1. The Scariest Thing in the World If It Happens to Be a Slow News Week Heat Therapy: Sweating It Out....................3
2. Soups: Simple, Tasty, Effective....................6
3. Qiqong and Other Weird Terms for Breathing....................13
4. Gua Sha: Scraping Away Evil Wetness (Two-Person Technique)....................21
5. Cupping: Not as Bad As it Sounds (Two-Person Technique)....................24
6. Acupressure and Massage....................29
7. Moxibustion: Healing with Heat....................37
About the Author....................52