Tips for Lung Health

Acupuncturists often think of the lung as the "sensitive organ" due to the respiratory system's susceptibility to infection and other conditions. We've been thinking of this characterization recently as we've seen an increasing number of people with respiratory-related health problems. After a cool wet spring, allergy sufferers are having a difficult year with high amounts of pollens and mold spores in the air. Asthma incidence is on the rise, and we've also seen more people recently complaining of stubborn cough and bronchitis symptoms. Add to this the recent news of SARS, and the "sensitive organ" seems to be having a challenging year.

There are some simple things you can do to improve your resistance to colds and other respiratory infections as well as better manage allergies and asthma.

First, if you tend to catch colds easily or are around others with infectious respiratory diseases, get in the habit of washing your hands frequently. Most viruses are not transmitted through the air but through skin contact with infected droplets that then come into contact with the nose and mouth. Washing your hands as well as cleaning doorknobs and phones can go a long way to decrease the ease of viral transmission.

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Dress appropriately for San Francisco's changing climate especially if you tend to get easily chilled. In Chinese medicine, we think of colds as "exterior cold wind" which invades through the neck and shoulder area. This explains why many people who catch a cold experience neck pain or stiffness as well as alternating chills and fever, sneezing and watery runny nose. While we know that colds are not literally the invasion of cold wind, prevention of quick temperature changes helps keep our resistance strong.

If you feel you are catching a cold, immediately use zinc lozenges, as these have been shown to reduce cold severity and longevity. Additionally, the use of the Chinese herb formula Yin Chiao is often effective at relieving or reducing the severity of the cold. And remember to rest, drink fluids and take it easy; your body fights harder when you follow these simple rules. One of my favorite home remedies is for early cold signs is hot and sour soup.

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For those with allergies or asthma, a few simple tips can help reduce your symptoms and reliance on medications. If your allergies are worse indoors, consider getting a good quality air purifier with a HEPA filter to reduce your exposure to allergens. If you have long hair, wash it before bed instead of in the morning to get pollen and other allergens off before bed. If you know what you are allergic to, such as grass pollen, you may find that the use of oral antigens may over time reduce your sensitivity to that allergen. We carry a number of oral antigen formulas at SOMA Acupuncture and can order allergy tests.

Jade Screen is a very effective Chinese herbal formula for improving resistance to colds and allergies when taken preventively. I've seen many people reduce their frequency of respiratory infections and manage their allergies more effectively using this formula.

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Finally, consider a course of acupuncture to manage your current symptoms and increase your resistance to both viruses and allergens. Acupuncture has been proven effective in helping people manage allergies and asthma and often helps reduce the course and severity of colds and flus while supporting the body's ability to heal. At SOMA Acupuncture, we can help you design an individualized program to manage recurrent or ongoing respiratory problems as well as improve your lung health.

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For more information about allergies, please also see:
Allergies and Respiratory Health
Treating Springtime Allergies

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SAN FRANCISCO NATURAL MEDICINE
formerly: SOMA Acupuncture & Natural Health Clinic
Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
Erika Horowitz, ND • Natalie Metz, ND
Jacqueline Blakely, ND, LAc • Nafysa Parpia, ND • Stephen Meeneghan, ND, LAc
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