// Beating winter chills
by Rob Lobosco
Winter is here, and with it comes the inevitable bout of winter illness. Colds and flu are particularly prevalent, especially if you work hard and don’t take good care of your body through the months ahead.
But are these winter bugs really inevitable?
Understanding the fundamentals of how the body works, from the perspective of traditional medicine, may prevent you suffering these ailments this winter, and may alleviate symptoms for those who develop them.
When we get a cold or flu, western medicine usually deems the lungs to be the root of the illness. Symptoms such as a dry cough or a productive cough with mucous and phlegm build-up suggest that the disharmony is just in the lungs, but this is not the case. The lungs are where the illness manifests, but not where it is actually coming from.
The body’s organ systems are all connected and each one affects another, either directly or indirectly. The Chinese organ system theory has two cycles, the sheng and the ke. Here we will focus on the sheng cycle, which can be thought of as a mother/child relationship. As a mother feeds her child, so the heart/small intestine/pericardium three heater feed the stomach/spleen. This feeds the lung/colon which nourishes the kidney/bladder, which in turn feeds the liver/gall bladder.
The spleen is responsible for blood building and immunity. If it becomes weak, cold and flu can develop. The spleen is the mother that feeds the child, the lungs; if it is deficient it cannot do this effectively. The spleen is also one of the main organs responsible for the production of energy, and removal of damp and phlegm. If it is weak, a productive cold and flu (with mucous and phlegm) will develop. Commonly, people will complain of feeling run down; this is because the spleen is so deficient it cannot build energy or remove damp and phlegm, making the person feel heavy and tired. In these instances a cold or flu can rapidly set in. From this perspective it would appear that colds and flu develop from the stomach and spleen, but manifest themselves in the lungs.
The easy way to avoid a cold and flu is by eating the right food during winter. Nourishing the stomach and spleen with the right amount of vitamins and minerals is important, as is ensuring that the required nutrients are obtained from all the main food groups. Seasonal food should be eaten; in winter we have oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes. This is because they contain vitamin C which helps prevent colds and flu. Protein is also essential for the repair and strengthening of body tissue and is very important for immunity.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, the spleen is nurtured with ‘earth foods’ that are easy to digest. These foods include pumpkin and sweet potato soup, fresh rye bread, and pureed lentils with fresh garlic and coriander. Well cooked grains, rice congee with fresh dates or shitake mushrooms, lentil burgers with egg whites, or indeed any well cooked foods are considered earth foods. Raw and hard-todigest foods should be avoided. Meat is a great energy food, but can be hard to digest, so when nourishing the energy of the spleen, eating lean minced meat in dishes such as shepherd’s pies is a good idea. Most spices are very heating to the system and should be avoided as they may irritate the stomach and affect the functions of the spleen and digestive system.
If you are prone to the nasty symptoms of colds and flu, follow these guidelines for nourishing and strengthening the spleen’s energy, which will in turn nurture the lungs and promote natural health. It’s simple really – avoid quick-fix prescription drugs, and eat right. If you still find yourself continually getting sick, take a break to relax and allow your body the time it needs to recuperate properly.
Rob has completed a Bachelor of Health Science/Traditional Chinese Medicine and research thesis in dietotherapy. He runs Yera Natural Health Clinic in Essendon and Rye where he practises Traditional Chinese Medicine/acupuncture/acupressure massage therapy/cupping and diet therapy and runs Yera Natural Health Retreat. Rob has taught aerobics in Australia, Europe and Canada for the past 16 years, and regularly contributes to Australian health and fitness publications. He is also a FAT LOSS LEADER having lost over 30kgs naturally, thanks to the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Visit his website at www.yerahealth.com.au
NETWORK • WINTER 2006 • P54