Swallowing my own medicine

People often ask, “How do you take care of your health and the health of your family?”

Preventative medicine is always a top priority for our family; eating regular home cooked organic whole foods, drinking filtered water and getting plenty of rest. Life is also about a good dose of fun, and it is important to live a balanced life, sharing times with friends, family, regular holidays and good times.

As an acupuncturist I have treated my children from birth and use classical herbal medicine formulas and natural nutrition for their ills if they present. My husband is a paramedic. He sees the side effects of over prescribing western medicine, and the issues created by numbing symptoms when the body needs to heal.

However, even with all the preventative practices like regular acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition and good living sometimes we get ill. I have been working a lot lately and have been over doing it. This is the time of year, in the season of Winter, that if we get a bit run down the illness can creep in. The classic saying is that if you overwork during Winter it can cause illness with fever in Spring. On a side note, at Andrea Bicket Acupuncture and Wellness we like to burn tea tree oil so the airborne germs don’t spread but sometimes it’s inevitable that we get sick, catch a cold or flu a couple times a year.

Just recently, I woke up sneezing on the morning of my daughters 11th birthday.

I could also feel the other symptoms of neck and upper back tightness, I felt chilled and my nose started to run. I knew I needed some acupuncture but I had a birthday to orchestrate and the friends were arriving at 9 am for the fun events we had organised for the day, no time to stop. In the back of my mind I knew I might be able to get to the practice later in the day for some herbs and acupuncture. In the meantime, I gave myself an extra dose of Vitamin C and Zinc, and I filled my tissues with tea tree oil and we headed off to the movies (thankfully we hadn’t chosen to go to the theme park when I was feeling like this).

By the afternoon, I was starting to get a headache so I got to lay down and rest and have a little snooze before the family dinner party began. I manage to push myself along until after dinner when I could pick up a classical herbal formulae that I knew would help me by circulating the lung QI and releasing the exterior of the body to induce sweat.

The next step in receiving my own medicine was that I gave myself acupuncture. Yes, we can do this in times of need and by now it was late and the practice was closed.

The same principles apply, tonify the lung energy to circulate the energy and build the Wei Qi or the defensive Qi. By this stage the energy was accumulating in my nose and eyes and the headache was mostly in my sinuses. I used points on my hands to move the excess accumulation of energy in the channels that circulate the face and head.

I found some relief and went off to sleep with a dose of herbs and and fleecy PJ’s, socks and extra blanket as I knew I need to sweat for the body to release the pathogen and help my immune system to heal. I had a rough night with a headache and sinus pain but nothing that I couldn’t handle. There is always the temptation to take pain relief at this point to dull the pain however I know the implications of dampening the immune systems natural responses and not allowing the body to fever and sweat. I did not want to prolong this cold more than a couple of days and I did not want this pathogen to defend deeper into my body and cause other prolonged symptoms so I resisted as I have done many times for myself and for my children and trusted my bodies immune system was doing what it needed to do to get my body back to wellness.

To my excitement I woke in the morning in a sweat. A mild one but I had a mild sweat over my chest and face and I knew that the lung qi was circulating and cycle had broken. With rest I would be feeling better soon.

I needed to have my clients rescheduled and commitments changed but I took it easy for the whole next day to rest and take naps. On the couch, with a box of tissues wafting in tea tree oil and watching ‘period drama’ is a luxury that only happens when I’m in recovering mode.

Porridge for breakfast and pumpkin soup made with chicken stock for lunch are family favourites and especially for convalescing as it is warming, nourishing and calming on the nervous system, builds energy and is easy on digestion.

During the day, I continued a high dose vitamin C and zinc and changed my classical herbal formulae to one that would help with the congestion that had formed in my sinuses and to stop headache. I gave myself acupuncture again as I didn’t feel like going to the practice and the other practitioners were all busy covering my patients too. This treatment was slightly different to the previous, as the symptoms had changed from the lungs and the underlying deficiency was now in the centre (earth) or digestion and the Qi, blood or fluids. I needed to move the congestion from my head and support my immune system.

After an awesome sleep and having stayed in my PJs for over 24 hours I got up for another relaxed day. I had some slight discomfort and blockage in sinuses and ear so I lay on the couch and gave myself some ear candling. This technique has been a family favourite over the years for ear pain or blockage. It is so soothing for the ears and effective for clearing the sinuses. It is a wonderful tool to promote healing. So, with a clear schedule except for a trip to the practice for acupuncture and nutrition testing, it was a day for cooking (lamb shank soup), playing a board game with my daughter, listening to the rain on the roof and writing this blog.

Back to work on Monday.