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Strengthen Your Immune System with TCM

It’s that time of year again…the weather is getting colder, the leaves have fallen off the trees and people are beginning to trickle into the office with autumn colds and allergies. As an acupuncturist, I have to say I rarely get sick. I have lots of tools and tricks in my bag to stay healthy during cold season, and I’m happy to share some of them with you!

Remember how your mom always made you wear a scarf when you were a kid, telling you that you’d catch a cold if you didn’t? I used to think she was just saying that, but as it turns out, there was something to it after all! In the world of Chinese medicine, there is an area at the back of the neck which can absorb wind and cold, allowing it to permeate into your system and create an ideal situation to catch an actual cold. By keeping this area warm and covered, you are putting up a shield between yourself and this invading wind, increasing your chances of avoiding colds.


Since we acupuncturists view cold as an entity that can migrate into your system, adding warm foods into your diet can help to balance out that cold, keeping you healthy or speeding up your recovery once a cold has set in. Eating chicken soup to ward off illness isn’t just a fallacy; the temperature of the soup is helpful, but there are also lots of ‘warm’ ingredients within the soup. Every food has an energetic quality, and warm spicy foods balance out excess cold in the system. Most good chicken soup has garlic, pepper and other spices that are considered ‘warm’ according to Chinese medical theory.

Adding spicy foods into your diet when cold season hits is a way to protect yourself from succumbing to the sniffles. Whenever I begin to feel a cold coming on, I sauté slices of ginger with a little butter or olive oil, and add it to a tea made with lemon, honey, cinnamon, clove and a dash of cayenne. I let the ginger soften as I drink the tea, and then eat the ginger. At the same time, I bundle up in warm clothes, encouraging the sweating process; if I drink it before the cold settles into my system, this almost never fails to get me feeling healthy again…It’s also delicious!

Staying warm and eating the right foods are two ways to stay healthy, and another is acupuncture. I always encourage patients to come in for regular acupuncture sessions to boost their immune system before the colder seasons begin!

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