21 Aug How acupuncture can get you through the flu season
With nearly 217,000 Australians having been diagnosed with influenza so far this year, it’s no secret that flu season is well and truly upon us. Even though we’re finally creeping towards the end of winter and into the warmer spring months, the virus is persisting, with high numbers of influenza cases continuing to dominate news headlines.
Typically peaking in August, the ‘flu season has been prolonged this year with the cold snaps that have affected the southern states.
The ‘flu virus spreads more easily in cold weather and exposure to cold, dry weather has an adverse impact on the body’s immune system. According to government-funded health information and advice website Health Direct, both laboratory-confirmed cases and reports of flu-like symptoms have been higher than usual in 2019.
While the best defence again the flu virus is the influenza vaccine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also have an important role to play in helping to strengthen the immune system, complementing the support the flu shot can provide and helping ease cold- and flu-like symptoms if you do fall victim to a virus.
It’s not too late to get the flu shot if you haven’t had it already, with the Australian Government confirming that it a safe and effective way to protect you from both influenza and other serious diseases that can be caused by the virus.
It’s also never too late for acupuncture and TCM techniques to support your body during flu season.
“Including regular acupuncture sessions along with your flu jab will double the benefits helping to boost your immune system, strengthen your ability to fight off the virus and help relieve the symptoms if you do become infected,” says Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) president Waveny Holland, who advocates an integrated approach to maintaining health and wellness.
What is the flu?
The flu is a virus that can last anywhere up to three weeks with very severe symptoms that are much worse than those of a regular cold. Fatigue, muscle aches, fevers, vomiting and diarrhoea drain the body, making it impossible to continue with our day to day routine and often requiring time off work to recover. It can even, in some cases, lead to hospitalisation and even death, particularly within at-risk groups such as babies and the elderly.
It’s important to note that, as a virus, the flu cannot be aided with the use of antibiotics. Nor can a cold.
How can acupuncture help?
Even if you have already received the flu shot, acupuncture can help strengthen your immune system and complement the support the shot might give you. The AACMA recommends visiting your acupuncturist before cold and flu season hits, or as soon as you begin to feel symptoms of the virus.
Along with acupuncture, Chinese medicine practitioners may also prescribe herbal remedies to provide treatment for and respite from cold and flu symptoms. Chinese herbal medicines have been used for centuries in China; they are TGA approved and very safe. These treatments focus on the whole body making it stronger, boosting the immune system and promoting better function. “These treatments can make your immune system stronger and therefore better at protecting you from the cold or flu viruses,” explains Waveny. They can also help your body in dealing with any side effects after having the vaccine.
What if I’m already sick?
Don’t panic if you are already feeling the first symptoms of a cold or flu. You can book in for an acupuncture treatment immediately, as it can help reduce the symptoms of cold – such as sore throat, fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher), sneezing, blocked or runny nose and cough – or the more serious flu, which can include all the same symptoms as a cold, along with headache, tiredness, chills, aching muscles, limb or joint pain, diarrhoea or upset stomach, and loss of appetite.
“This boost can give you a better chance at fighting the virus or even preventing you from succumbing to them in the first place,” explains Waveny.
Where can I find an acupuncturist?
Finding trusted sources is absolutely essential when it comes to your health. To ensure you’re visiting an accredited, knowledgeable and skilled acupuncturist or Chinese medicine practitioner, AACMA recommends searching the AACMA database.
AACMA has been representing Chinese medicine professionals for the past 45 years and is considered Australia’s most trusted source for qualified practitioners in the field. With more than 2200 registered members listed, all of whom have a minimum four-year degree in Chinese medicine and are registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, “you are guaranteed to know you are sourcing the best possible professional who can offer the highest quality treatment and care”, says Waveny.