The back-to-school season is just around the corner, so you know what that means—get ready for snotty noses and icky coughs! It doesn’t have to be this way though. There are steps you can take now to boost your little’s immune system so they are good and ready to fight all those new school year germs.
One of the great things about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that it is preventative medicine. This means you don’t have to wait until there is an illness before you use TCM; you can use it now to prevent from getting sick. TCM can get the body functioning at a place of balance, where it is prepared to handle any ick that comes its way. Below I’ve listed several ways to use TCM right in your own home to get your little ready for school this fall.
Acupuncture is the most widely known TCM modality and acupressure is a variation of acupuncture that anyone can do anywhere. There are several acupressure points used to boost the immune system. In TCM the body has a barrier that serves to protect it from outside germ invasions. This barrier is called wei qi and translates as “defensive energy.”
The following 3 points serve to strengthen wei qi. They can be stimulated for a couple of minutes daily with gentle pressure. You can even teach your little to do it themselves as a part of their normal routine:
1. Stomach 36 (ST36) – This point is called Zu San Li and translates as “Leg Three Miles.” This point is located on the leg, the width of your little’s 4 fingers below the knee and 1 finger to the outside of the shinbone.
2. San Jiao 5 (SJ5) – This point is called Wai Guan and translates as “Outer Pass.” This is on the back side of the forearm, the width of 3 of your little’s fingers above the wrist in the middle of the 2 bones, the ulnar and the radius.
3. Kidney 27 (KD27) – This last point is called Shu fu, which means “Shu Mansion.” This below the collarbone in the little corner where the collarbone meets the breastbone.
Watch this short video for tips to find these points.
Another strong suit of TCM is herbal medicine. There are 3 formulas I keep on hand for this time of year. Yu Ping Feng Wan or Jade Wind Screen is very useful as a preventative and can be taken daily to keep the immune system in tiptop shape. Start giving this to your little a couple weeks leading up to the start of school and continue through the winter.
Another to have on hand is Windbreaker made by Kan Herb Company to use at the first sign of runny nose or cough. If there is any complaint of a sore throat, use CQ Jr made by Blue Poppy. It is best to see your local pediatric acupuncturist, too, for any modifications to these formulas that will best suit your little.
In addition to TCM, here are a few easy dietary changes your family can adopt to help keep germs and the ick away.
Food. One of the best places to start boosting your little’s immune system is in the kitchen. Foods we eat can both give our immune system a boost and also stamp it out. Be sure to give your little plenty of foods that are high in vitamins A, C, D3, and zinc.
Vitamin A is crucial for healthy immunity in the gut lining; it helps to maintain the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory response in the gut. Foods to eat include sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and leafy greens.
Vitamin C is needed by white blood cells to fight infection and is a natural antioxidant. It can be found in peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, and leafy greens.
Vitamin D3 is needed to activate the immune system. Our best source of Vitamin D3 is from the sun, but it is also found in oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and also eggs. It’s often difficult to get enough from the sun and diet, so it’s important to supplement.
Zinc helps in new cell production and healing. Good sources include grass feed red meat, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, quinoa, and shrimp.
Also good old garlic, onions, and ginger can be used to give any meal immune-boosting properties.
Probiotics. A healthy gut is a necessary for a healthy immune system. Probiotic supplements should be taken daily to support a balanced gut. Babies under 1 year old can get 5 billion organisms per day; children 1-5 years old can get 10 billion; and those older than 5 years old can get 20 billion per day.
Ditch the sugar. Sugar is known to depress immune function, so do your best to limit sugar intake and watch out for added sugars in your little’s diet, especially high fructose corn syrup.
Bone broth. Finally, one of the best and easiest things you can do in your kitchen for the whole family’s immune system is make bone broth. Bone broth has been used for centuries in cultures around the world to keep families healthy and strong. Most likely, elders in your own family are familiar with some form of bone broth and it’s healing properties.
These are all ways you can take charge of your little’s health right from your own home. School will be back in session soon, if it hasn’t started already, so don’t wait. Start now to nurture a strong and healthy little! For extra support be sure to find a pediatric acupuncturist near you who can give individualized treatments and herbs that are specially tailored to your little’s needs.