Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of Viruses and Antivirals

Cold season has already hit several home runs within my family circle. After the mass humanity of Vegas, and surely what must have been armies of billions of germs, I brought home a lovely virus that began with an iron fist clamp down in my throat, muscle pain in my cheeks and neck, and a headache that felt as if I'd swallowed a gallon of ice cream in one gulp.

Fortunately, my aresenal of herbs was well stocked, and I began taking Gan Mao Ling right away, along with teaspoonfuls of echinacea ever 2 hours, and a specific tea blend that helped to open my pores and initiate sweating. The tea blend I chose for this particular cold was yarrow, elder, eucalyptis, and mint. I alternated this tea with another beverage of hot water, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, and honey. Additionally, I took 4 capsules of olive leaf 4 times a day for about 5 days. I drank no coffee, consumed no alcoholic beverages, and drank only soup for 3 days. By day 2 I felt okay. Within 4 days I felt nearly as good as new, and within 7 days I was back on the pony feeling as if nothing had invaded my body or my previous week. Pretty good! I thought. I have only been successful at warding off a cold so quickly only one other time.

I guess all those hours poring over the chinese herbal manuals and discerning the differences between an invasion of wind-heat vs. wind-cold and internal pathogens vs. external pathogens helped me after all.

Of course, when things wnet south less than 3 weeks later, I thought "oh great! a repeat of last winter!" So, off to the acupuncturist I went, this time for some professional opinionating about my own theories. The stress load I'd been dealing with didn't seem to be helping. Between work, a child undergoing her own extreme anxieties and emotional turbulence, a dog that unexpectedly died, and trying to balance work, exercise, keeping up my home, tending to the family, a few outside projects, and a before winter To-Do list the size of Texas, I was starting to feel as if my body was falling apart.

My problem, it turns out, is that I am an extreme optimist. Not only do I think I can do it all, I try, and I don't slow down unless forced to.

The acupuncturist took one look at my tongue, and in her broken English said "You under too much stress." "Thank you," I said, "for noticing." She gave me a strong dose of a calming formula, put me up on the table, and began treatment immediately, even though she had first said the treatment would come later this week. "I must be messed up," I thought, but felt immediate relief once the needles were in.

"Go home and take naps two times week," she ordered. Knowing better, I still said, "but I like to exercise at know, get out and be alone, on the trails, running." She nodded and mumbled, and said "I know. But you rest. You need nap two times week." I promised to try.

And I will. It just hasn't worked out with my schedule yet this week.

But during the strength and conditioning class I enjoy on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I felt like my lungs were sodden with peat moss, and I just couldn't get my legs to not feel like anvils, and my head still felt a bit swooshy and weezy. I don't feel sick. Just...tired.

So, maybe tomorrow, instead of going to class, I'll just go home a take a nap.

The antivirals I'm keeping stocked up on, however, for the kids, as well as the adults include:

Olive leaf
Lemon Balm

Gan Mao Ling and Yin Chiao are two Chinese formulas that are recommended at the first sign of colds. They contain antiviral herbs as well as diaphoretic herbs that help to open the pores and stimulate sweating.

The theory behind diaphoretics is that they help to eliminate sickness more quickly and prevent a sickness from travelling deeper into the body, where you tend to get more of the awful symptoms and a lingering illness.

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