H1N1: The topic of much conversation, conjecture and fear. Over the past several months this virus has been highlighted on the news as something that can attack you at any time, any place and is potentially fatal. H1N1 is touted as a fearsome virus.

What is truly the issue is not the geographical reach of this disease, nor it’s virulence; nor even, the potential efficacy of the suggested vaccine. The real issue at hand is how strong your immune system is and whether or not it has the ability to launch an immune reaction strong enough to eradicate the virus before it negatively impacts your health and well being. Even with the use of the suggested vaccine, you must have a strong immune system in order to facilitate the building of the appropriate antibodies to the virus.

In all instances viral, bacterial and parasitic invasions require a weakened immune response in order to gain the upper hand in the human body. These organisms thrive in the systems of the immune compromised. These same organisms wither in the face of a strong immune response.

Immune compromised people include: the very old, the very young and the very ill. These individuals all have weakened immune responses and may well succumb to an infection by H1N1 or any other pathogenic organism.

It is true that the strength of the invading organism is a factor to be considered. It is equally true that our best defense against any illness is to ensure that our immune systems are working as efficiently as possible.

As we enter into the fall weather, we are in much closer proximity with our fellow man and pathogens. It is important to protect ourselves in an effort to prevent disease. We must also ensure that should we contract an illness; the intensity will not be as strong and our rate of recovery will be improved. All Naturopathic Doctors are trained in the use of powerful immune supporting treatments.

It is important to ensure that your lungs are strong and healthy. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests that weak lungs equate to a weakened immune system. Chinese medicines of choice may include GanMaoLing, YinChiao or YangYinQingFei to strengthen the lungs. Western medicines may include Corylus avellana, Echinacea purpurea and high doses of vitamin C and Zinc. Naturopaths also offer natural “flu shots” to support immune function.

Prevention is the key. The beauty of prevention is that its natural sequelae are: decreased likelihood of contracting an illness; less severe symptoms should you contract a disease, and a better immune response should you opt for vaccination.

Beat the Heat: Ancient Chinese Secrets

Ahh, the Chinese are wise people indeed. They developed a form of medicine thousands of years ago based on observation and experiences within their environment.

Their system of medicine is based on the Yin/Yang theory, whereby all things must remain in balance. If something is too hot, it must be cooled. If too cold, it must be warmed. If too damp, dry it; too dry, moisten it. This process of balancing is nowhere more evident than in their perspectives on nutrition. In the winter herbs and foods must be eaten that support the generation of warmth in the body. In the spring when dampness is prevalent, warming and drying foods should be consumed. The summer is a time of cooling the body and maybe dissipating a bit of damp (especially important here on the coast).

Have you ever noticed how during the hot days of summer your bowel movements may have a strong odour and may be a little more difficult to pass. You feel thirsty and maybe even a little headachy. Your breath may be a little less “fresh” than you’d like. Your body odour may be stronger than normal. Perhaps your urine colour is darker. These are all signs of heat in your system. If you have some of the above symptoms along with loose stools, a heavy or dragged down feeling, abdominal bloating and/or increased perspiration then your heat invasion is coupled with dampness.

Chinese medicine would recommend that you consume the appropriate foods to cool down your body and evaporate the damp if needed. You will be amazed at how quickly you can overcome these “symptoms” of environmental influences on your body. And you will be much more tolerant of the summer heat than those around you.

The following “soups” are wonderful for addressing these imbalances. They are generally consumed during the hot days of summer for a period of 5 to 7 days. Of course if the days are cold and rainy, you will not need to drink them.

For symptoms of heat with no dampness:

1 cup mung beans, 1/8 cup yellow rock sugar (available at Fairways market in Nanaimo) and 8-10 cups water. Mix in large pot and simmer on low until the beans are very soft (may take 2-3 hours). You may strain out the beans through a coffee filter or eat them as your taste dictates. Store in the fridge and drink 1-2 cups per day for approximately 5 days.

For heat with no dampness:

Substitute mung beans with adzuki beans and prepare in the same manner.

Try it; you will be impressed in the changes in your body. Those of you who are concerned about the flatulence that often accompanies bean consumption – need not fear. These drinks do not tend to create gas.