From the category archives:

Immune System

Yoga Practice May Help Ward off Cold and Flu

by Ed

A recent story on NPR sheds some light on evidence that may help keep you from one thing that everyone dreads- catching a cold or flu this season. The British Journal of Sports Medicine study cited found that people who exercised 5 days a week got sick for 40% fewer days than those who did so one day or less. While the exact reason why this is the case is still only speculation in the scientific community, there seems to be a clear correlation here. A similar study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found results that mirror these findings as well.

Dr. David Neiman of Appalachian State University adds another layer to this, saying that after 90 minutes of high exertion- like long distance running- our defenses instead go down, opening us up to sickness for up to 24 hours following exercising. So the key here is not to wear yourself out and inhibit your body’s defenses.

Yoga is a great option for reaping these benefits, since each person practices to his or her own ability so as not to be hard on the body. The meditative aspect of practice serves as a one-two punch by helping to manage stress, which we know only impedes the immune system further. In addition to lowering stress levels, yoga has been lauded for centuries for improving strength, posture, flexibility, concentration, heart and lung health, and so much more.

The implications of the study are that one is exercising for at least 20 minutes on each of those 5 days, so whether you can attend an hour class or practice at home for only a half hour, most of us can certainly find the time. Even 15 minutes at the beginning and end of a busy day is great. Alternating days of yoga and cardio is also a great option to vary your routine, and in return, your fitness benefits.

Where else besides yoga class can you go to stay in shape, flu-free, and sane this holiday season? There’s nowhere better.

In peace and health,

Sasha Britton

Written on behalf of Gym Source, America’s #1 exercise equipment provider. Find treadmills, ellipticals, and all of your workout needs here.

How Qi Gong can help with Fibromyalgia and CFS

by Ed

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial to the wellbeing of those suffering with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Qi gong can be very helpful in both areas. Qi gong is a Chinese form of therapeutic exercise and meditation. There are many different styles that have developed over the centuries.

According to Chinese Medicine, FM and CFS are due to a deficiency and a stagnation of the body’s vital energy. There may also be latent toxins (viruses, bacteria, etc.) in the body. Qi gong, which means energy work can increase our store of vital energy, improve it’s flow and strengthen the immune system, which can help expel the latent toxins.

The movements in most forms of qi gong are gentle and flowing like the movements of tai chi, making it easier for people with low energy reserves to do them. They provide the body with needed exercise while slowly building strength and stamina. Meditative forms of qi gong help to calm an agitated mind and body, improve sleep, and strengthen the immune system. Most practitioners also report an increased pain tolerance.

If you live near Berkeley California, check out Dr. Bingkun Hu. He is an excellent teacher of the Wild Goose style of Qi gong. Wild Goose includes both active and meditative qi gong forms. You might also want to check out Ken Cohen’s The Essential Qigong Training Course.

One of my favorite qi gong meditations is the inner smile meditation. If you would like to download a free mp3 of the inner smile meditation, mention it in your comment, below.

Preventing Childhood Ear Infections

by Ed

Every once in a while, as I’m browsing the web, I run into a post I wish I had written. Dr. Daisy has this great post about preventing childhood ear infections. Being an acupuncturist, the only thing I would add is to try Chinese Medicine to treat your child’s ear infection. Since antibiotics can perpetuate the problem of repeated ear infections, you need to find another way to treat them. Chinese Medicine has some very effective antibacterial herbal formulas. Like antibiotics, they can be overused and they can lead to a deficiency of beneficial bacteria in your gut, but they have certain advantages.

  • Bacteria are less resistant to them because they have not been overused, also because each formula has more than one antibacterial component.
  • Chinese Medicine has always been holistic, looking at the forest, instead of the needles on the trees. Therefore, formulas are designed to lessen side effects. Your child’s digestive tract is far more likely to come out unharmed and their immune system won’t take a beating.
  • They taste terrible, so your child will get better quickly to avoid taking them again. (Just joking, there are many child friendly formulas these days.)

Do check out Dr. Daisy’s great post on preventing childhood ear infections, and consider a practitioner of Chinese Medicine the next time your child gets one.

Can Vitamin C Fight Colds?

by Ed

A recent review of research into the effects of vitamin C concludes that it is largely ineffective in preventing colds. See the article in the International Herald Tribune.

But read it carefully. They talk about people taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C. Everybody knows that if you want to fight off a cold you need several grams a day. I’m surprised they found 200 mg to be as useful as they did.

Next in the article they say that lycopene has no effect in preventing cancer. However they do not mention details of the study at all. Who knows what they were looking at.

All this is very interesting, considering the FDA is getting ready to shut down the supplement industry. They are raising safety standards above that of drugs. They even admit that most supplement companies will not be able to stay in business.

Look out America. Your health choices are going away. (And we call this democracy?)

Healing food allergies and leaky gut syndrome

by Ed

If you have food allergies, particularly if you developed them later in life and are allergic to more than one food, chances are you also have leaky gut syndrome. If you can heal your leaky gut then you will be able to overcome your allergies as well.

What is leaky gut syndrome? When the intestinal lining becomes damaged, it can let partially digested proteins into the blood stream. The body does not recognize these foreign proteins and assumes they are invaders. It therefore sends out an immune response, attacking the protein molecules. After that happens a few times, the body quickly recognizes that particular food as dangerous and starts attacking very quickly. That is the way leaky gut can lead to food allergies. Leaky gut syndrome can also be at the root of other health problems, such as arthritis, excema, irritable bowel syndrome, and many believe fibromyalgia.

How do you get leaky gut syndrome? Being our first line of defense against many things trying to enter our bodies, the intestinal lining is well designed. However, it is rather fragile, as it is supposed to let digested nutrients through. It usually takes a number of different factors over a period of time to compromise the intestinal lining to the extent that we develop a leaky gut. Bacteria, fungi, yeast, such as candida, and other parasites can all damage the lining. Many drugs can as well, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other pain medications. Antibiotics, indirectly can cause it, by killing the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which allows harmful bacteria, and fungi to flourish. Anything that causes inflammation of the intestines can also damage the lining.

How do you heal leaky gut syndrome? This can be a difficult an lengthy process. I highly recommend seeing a health practitioner that specializes in it. In some countries there are several lab tests that can be done. These help not only in making an accurate diagnosis, but also in forming an efficient treatment plan. If you do not have access to a qualified health practitioner and believe you have leaky gut syndrome, there are a few things you can do for yourself. First, find out more about it to have a better idea if you really have it. Leaky Gut Syndrome by Elizabeth Lipski, is a great little booklet that goes into a lot more detail than I have here, about the symptoms, the causes, and the treatment. I Was Poisoned By My Body by Gloria Gilbere is another good book with more information on things you can do to help yourself.

The most important thing to do is give your intestinal lining the chance to heal itself. You need to stop eating foods that you are sensitive to. The best thing to do is an elimination diet, to figure out which foods cause reactions, then go on a rotation diet to avoid developing new sensitivities. Avoid taking any medications that are harmful to the digestive system, including anti-inflammatories, steroids, and antibiotics. You also need to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut by taking large doses of probiotics and other supplements that enhance the beneficial bacteria. When looking for a probiotic, get one that has several different bacteria, as the work synergistically. Primal Defense is one that I have found to work well. It also has soil microorganisms that have proven beneficial to the immune system. Start taking your probiotic at one capsule twice a day. Slowly work up to about ten a day. You may need to stay at that dose for several months. Another useful supplement for the good bacteria is fructo-oligosacharide. You can be sure that you have some bad bugs in your gut, if you do have leaky gut syndrome. The best thing to do is find out what they are and take the right medicine to get rid of them. Chinese herbs are very useful against most of the harmful bugs in the gut. If you are going it on your own, though, I would only suggest eating raw garlic or taking garlic capsules.

I have skimmed over many things on purpose because if you do have leaky gut syndrome, you really need to get professional help. As I mentioned earlier, there are many conditions besides food allergies that could be related to leaky gut syndrome. If you have a chronic complaint that is resistant to treatment, check out one or both of the books I mentioned or see a health practitioner who specializes in treating leaky gut syndrome.