Q: I have this head cold that has been around all winter. What should
I do? Do I need antibiotics?
A: As a general rule of thumb, if your secretions (snot, and that stuff
you cough up in the morning) are yellowish or greenish that means you have
a BACTERIAL infection. Bacteria cannot penetrate our cell walls, and do
their damage at the edges of the cells, where our white blood cells can
come to the rescue to try to gobble up the invading microbes. Pus, snot
and all that nasty slimy stuff is actually your own dead white blood cells
which have done battle and now must be discarded into the Kleenex. If this
has been going on for a long time AND you think you're eating right, getting
plenty of sleep and pushing pure fluids (that means at least 8 big glasses
of fresh water daily; tea and fruit juice is additional), you MAY need antibiotics.
Before going to antibiotics for a bacterial infection be advised to try
a 10 day course of Echinacea in tincture or capsule form, supplemented with
Lomatium, extra Vitamin C, lots of garlicky soup and rest. If you decide
to go with antibiotics for a problem that is chronic (ongoing) PLEASE get
your doctor to order a "culture and sensitivity" so you get an
antibiotic that is specific to the bug. If possible avoid broad spectrum
antibiotics like Amoxicillin or Bactrim.
If your secretions are clear or colorless you probably have a VIRAL infection,
in which case antibiotics won't do any good at all; in fact they'll harm
you by destroying the "friendly" micro-organisms in you gut which
help you digest food properly thereby bringing raw energy to your blood
and tissues. Most viruses "run their course" and then the body
adjusts to having them around. They live on in us indefinitely, since they
take up residence INSIDE our cells, where the principle components of our
immune system - the white blood cells - can't touch them. Under periods
of stress, these viral parasites will flare up and create symptoms of disease.
The best approach in general to viral infections is upgrading your constitutional
health on all fronts and making the commitment to minimizing undue stress.
Q: I've heard about acupuncture, and that it helps people to get better.
But I just don't get it. How does it work?
A: Good question, and it is hard to explain in terms of a biochemical model
of health. All living beings are imbued by a "vital force" which
can be seen, for example, as the light shining out of someone's eyes. This
is a manifestation of an inner energy that is more than synapsing neurotransmittors
and vibrating molecules. This vital force, in Traditional Chinese Medicine,
is called "QI" (pronounced chee). The Qi flows through 12 major
"meridians" which are like channels just below the surface of
the skin, with branches penetrating into the vital organs. Each meridian
is affiliated with a vital organ and set of bodily functions. Pain, or
any physical dysfunction, is considered in Traditional Chinese Medicine
to be due to stuck, or stagnant Qi. Here's where the needles come in.
First of all, they ought to be called filaments. They are extremely fine
and nothing is injected through them. Along the meridians there are certain
points, called acupoints, where the Qi gathers in tiny pools and thus offers
places on the surface of the body for the corresponding organs to be stimulated.
The sterile, disposable filaments act as conducting rods when inserted
into the acupoints where Qi is stagnating. The metal will stimulate a current,
similar to an electrical current, to galvanize the stuck energy to flow,
thus restoring balance and harmony to the entire system. Some researchers
say that acupuncture works in pain relief by blocking the electric currents
in the pain pathways as they ascend through the spinal cord to the brain.
This may be part of the story, but there is unquestionably an "energy"
system which enlivens us, and which has not yet been totally dissected by
modern science. A qualified acupuncturist is trained to assess where your
Qi is stuck, and to stimulate the appropriate points and restore the healing
flow. Juneau is lucky to have several licensed acupuncturists who would
be happy to answer more questions about this ancient and still safe and
effective healing art.