by David Berkshire, L.Ac.

My father-in-law brought home the USA Today last weekend, and the
front page declared "The deadliest flu season ever, half the US
population may be infected!" I checked the NY Times and it was a
little calmer about it, declaring we don't know what will come of
this season.

Every year the flu virus comes back–kids go back to school, we
close the windows to keep the cold out, and the virus begins to
wander from human to human. You wake up with that scratchy throat,
achy joints, and those alternating fever and chills–time to call in
sick even though you have too much to do. Then, a few days to a week
later, you awake from your daze and hope you don't go through that

You also may be one of those "lucky" ones that have the
virus turn into a bacterial infection and end up with that lingering
cough that keeps you hacking for the rest of the winter.

No wonder they came up with the vaccine. However:

A study led by Dr. David K. Shay in February, 2008 reported that
"full immunization against flu provided about a 75 percent
effectiveness rate in preventing hospitalizations from influenza
complications in the 2005-6 and 2006-7 influenza seasons." [16]
The group most vulnerable to flu, the elderly, is also the least
affected by the vaccine, with an average efficacy rate ranging from
40-50% at age 65, and 15-30% past age 70. [17] [18] [19] There are
multiple reasons behind this steep decline in vaccine efficacy, the
most common of which are the declining immunological function and
frailty associated with advanced age. [20]

In most years (16 of the 19 years before 2007), the flu vaccine
strains have been a good match for the circulating strains. [21] In
other flu seasons like that of 2007/2008, the match was less

Taken from: (see website
for study citations)

Unlike smallpox and polio vaccines the flu vaccine needs to be very
broad range. The forecasters have to make an educated guess of what
strains will be present in 2009-10 and then put them in a vial for
mass sale. They usually miss a few…

Vaccination is one option when faced with flu season, but
ultimately a strong immune system is the strongest "vaccination." A
strong immune system reduces the flu to a day of scratchy throat
and a fever instead of the lingering cough that leads to steroids
and antibiotics.

In Chinese Medicine we think about more than just antibodies. The
superficial flow of the immune system is the "Wei Qi." This Wei Qi
protects the external boundary and prevents the "evil qi" from
entering. The Wei Qi, however, is dependant on a strong internal
system. Our Yang Qi is the driving force within us that
activates the Wei Qi and motivates our ability to fight off

When an illness invades initially, the Yang Qi within stimulates the
Wei Qi and a battle ensues. This battle between the Wei Qi and
the evil (illness) qi creates the fever and chills we experience
with flu. From a western perspective, the body's natural immunity
(fever) is raising the temperature of the bath water to burn up the
illness. Once the battle is done, the illness is expelled. Our
body is wiser and can now recognize that flu as it is passed around
for the next few months.

The best time to treat the flu is before you get it. Sleep, diet,
and happiness are the best immune tonics known to man. When do you
get a cold? After a long stressful period when you weren't sleeping
enough and eating out a lot.

The reality is that you can't always get sleep, a good diet and
lots of laughter. Supplement-wise you can utilize Vitamin C, but be
aware the body becomes used to this–so always take it 4 out of 7
days to keep getting the desired effect. Chinese medicine often
suggests Jade Wind Screen Pills (Yu Ping Feng San); this formula is
designed for lung qi and Wei Qi deficiency–take it when you're
healthy, not when you're sick.

Water also has an amazing healing ability. A traditional western
treatment is called the wet sock treatment. By putting cold wet
socks on your feet (see directions at bottom of article) you
stimulate lymph drainage and create a mini-fever to fight off any
of those bugs that are bothering you.

These simple treatments may be enough for you, but if you struggle
most winters or are concerned about this one you may have other
issues contributing to a weaker immune system. Chinese medicine is
based on treating the individual–which organ systems are weak and
how does that affect the immunity is the question we ask ourselves.

Through individualized pulse and tongue diagnosis we can ascertain
those hidden areas that need attention and provide acupuncture
and herbal treatment to get you back to a more vibrant you.
If you have questions, please give us a ring.
We also offer 15 minute free consults to educate you about how
natural medicine can benefit you. Even if you feel that flu coming on we can help you
fight it before it gets bad, but as we all know "prevention is the
best medicine!"

Give us a call (503) 701-8766 — the team at the front desk can get
you aligned with the practitioner who is best for you!


The warming socks treatment is best if repeated for three nights in
a row, unless you are otherwise instructed.


1. If your feet are cool or cold it is important to warm them
first.  This is very important as the treatment will not be as
effective and could be harmful. Warming can be accomplished by
soaking in warm water for 5-10 minutes.

2. Next, take a pair of cotton socks and get them wet with cold
water.  Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly.

3. Place the cold wet socks on your feet. Cover with thick wool
socks.  Go to bed.  Avoid getting chilled.

You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

Many patients report that they sleep much better during the


Kwan-Yin Healing Arts Center, 2330 NW Flanders Suite #101, Portland, OR 97210, USA

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