How You Get Sick

Hi Everybody,

These past several months have been one of the worst Cold and Flu Seasons we can remember. At the same time, medical research is once again saying that cold weather has nothing to do with the spread of Colds or the Flu. We just don’t buy it.

In Chinese medicine, the cause of Colds and the Flu are a combined effect of a weakened immune system and a strong invader.

FIRST YOU ARE WEAKENED- Did you ever notice that even in the worst epidemic, some people do not get sick? This simply means that their immune systems are stronger than that particular invader. Notice that some people always get sick? These people have weaker immune systems that have a harder time fighting off any invader. Germs are around us all the time. We only get sick when the germ we come in contact with is stronger than our immune system. That can mean either a strong germ, or a weak immune system.

So for most of us, something has to happen that lowers our immunity, or we have to come in contact with a very strong or very numerous invader. Many things can lower your immunity (stress, overwork, diet, etc), but when it comes to “cold and flu season”, there is one major factor.

During the fall and winter (and occasionally in spring and summer) the temperature fluctuates quickly between warm and cold. It is not so much the cold that weakens our immunity (though it does), but more than that the going from warm to cold very quickly. It is the extreme and fast fluctuations in temperature that weaken the immune system. In fact, this is one of the biggest stressors our body has to deal with, and it is not just temperature changes – it is also changes in barometer, humidity, wind speed, and so on.  Once your body adjusts to the new conditions, you are typically okay. It is during the fluctuation when the body is trying to adjust that you are most vulnerable. The wider the temperature fluctuation, the harder it is on the body trying to keep up.

THEN COMES CONTACT- Once weakened, even germs you may normally fight off easily may be able to take hold, because they are now stronger than your immune system.

In addition, during this time of the year you are not dealing with normal levels of these germs – by this time the people with weak immune systems have already gotten sick and become breeding grounds for these germs. As a result, you are being exposed to much higher levels of attack than usual, especially if you have children. (If the germ is out there, they will bring it home.) Also, visiting or living with someone who is sick, or working in a public area where you come into contact with lots of potentially sick people increases your risk as well.  No matter how strong your immune system is, it is now being put to the test. And if anything lowers your resistance, even a little, it may be enough to let the intruder in.

THE RESEARCH- The problem with the research on this subject is that they typically just take a few people, put them in a cold room, and then watch them a few days to see if they get sick.

Instead, they should try to mimic the real world.  They need to get the people used to one temperature over the course of a few months, then quickly fluctuate back and forth over the next week or so, while also altering humidity levels and barometric pressure, and then expose them to a germ. If there is someone in the group with lowered immunity to start with, they would usually get sick first. Then leave the whole group in the room with that person and fluctuate the temperature a few more times and see what happens.

Hope this helps,

Dr Matt and Dr Robin

mattandrobin@yahoo.com (email)

This week’s bit of Useless Information:  The custom of giving eggs at Easter time has been traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life. 

This email is courtesy of Matthew Barnes, D.C. and Robin Barnes, D.C.  Neither this nor any of our emails are intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such.  They are opinion and are for informational purposes only.  None of the nutrients discussed here are meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

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