The flu shot: It’s a highly debated topic these days. So should you get it or not?
What is the Flu Shot?
The flu shot is an inactivated version of the influenza virus that protects against projected strains of the virus. The vaccine pushes the body to develop antibodies to the given virus about two weeks after receiving the shot. Influenza can be life-threatening, especially for very young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised patients, so many Western doctors recommend that their patients receive the flu vaccine every flu season.
In theory, it sounds like the right thing to do to protect yourself. After all, no one wants to be sick for two weeks with an awful case of the flu. However, some controversy comes into play when looking at the makeup of individual flu vaccines each year. Because the vaccine protects against projected influenza strains, some vaccines are more effective than others, based on the individual patient’s medical history as well as the efficacy of the vaccine itself.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that when a body is in balance, disease and illness cannot enter. And on the flip side, when your body is out of balance, it cannot function at its potential. Generally speaking, when the body is naturally sick, the immune system is exercised. This helps the body to build up immunities naturally. The idea of a flu shot is similar—to use your own immune system to learn how to fight illness. Then your body can prevent the flu when it comes in contact with the virus. However, if your immune system isn’t strong in the first place, how can it fight? How can it win? It doesn’t stand a chance.
Your body has innate wisdom. It knows how to reach its highest potential—and how to heal itself. Your immune system—if balanced—should be able to ward off influenza without the help of a vaccine. TCM focuses on prevention—on creating and maintaining a healthy body—so that disease and illness cannot make its way in.
So, should you get the flu shot? Ultimately, that is a personal decision. But if you are among the many professionals required to get the flu shot each year, how do you prepare your body to receive it?
Two Weeks Before the Flu Shot:
Follow these steps for two weeks before getting a flu shot. Doing so will help strengthen your immune system in order to be able to receive benefit from the flu shot.
- Herbs and Healing Foods: Chinese herbs will help balance your body. Certain herbs are recommended for the flu shot. If interested, please call the center. In addition, eat warming foods and drinks that are easily digested to help conserve your energy.
- Simplify Your Life: Take some things off of your to-do list, let go of what bothers you and remember to breathe. Head to bed earlier than usual and get an ample amount of rest every night.
- Meditate or practice Qigong: Life is meditation. As you meditate or practice Qigong, remember this peaceful state. Feel the calmness wash over you and carry that feeling with you.
After the Flu Shot:
After receiving the flu shot, many people experience flu-like symptoms. Whether you do or don’t, treat your body as if you have a cold. Warm yourself up. Make yourself a pot of tea by steeping slices of fresh ginger (or 2 ginger tea bags) and 1 peppermint tea bag in boiling water. Then add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Drink the tea while it is nice and warm. Then follow-up with a hot bath and a good night of restful sleep.