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  • Writer's pictureTeam Serenity

Tis' the Season for Sneezin' & Wheezin'

Majeeda Hanna, Acupuncturist at Serenity Holistic Health, Oak Park, IL

You know what it means as the holiday season begins: more gatherings, more shopping, more traveling, more home deliveries, more hugging and kissing, colder weather, probably some poor diet choices, and maybe even some (accidental) dehydration. It can get pretty overwhelming! So I thought it would be helpful to not only share some of my favorite immune support tips and tricks, but also let you know about six of our favorite all-star immune support formulas here at Serenity Holistic Health! As a Chinese Herbalist, I’ve chosen many of them for their time-tested, unique ability to support specific health issues. I’ve also added some advice for usage, but if you need a little extra help selecting the best formula for you and your family, just ask or stop by.

  • Jade Windscreen (Yu Ping Feng San) - think of it like a windscreen to illness elements An effective viral preventative as well as a therapeutic agent, Jade Windscreen is recommended for those who have recently been exposed to illness or for when acute allergy symptoms collide with typical cold symptoms (i.e., mild respiratory symptoms, scratchy throat, and sinus congestion). When illnesses such as these strike, you may feel an aversion to wind/cold and you may even sweat a little heavier than normal. One of my favorite ways to use this is preventatively:  start using this formula two days before any events where potential exposure to illness could be higher: traveling, crowded gatherings, etc., Continue using for three days total for maximum effectiveness.

  • Cold Away (Gan Mao Ling and Yin Qiao combination) like a warrior’s sword (defend) and shield (protect) Cold Away is mainly prescribed as a therapeutic for moderate viral or bacterial infections with symptoms that include mild fever plus sore and/or swollen throat, chills, cough, headache, and congestion. It’s a pretty universal formula that can be used for a variety of symptoms so it’s one I typically recommend keeping in your medicine cabinet. You’ve been there, right? You suddenly start to feel ill and are scrambling to find immediate support as you get the kids to school on time before heading to work. This is your support: not only will it cover all the bases for mitigating symptoms, it’s a powerful ally to your immune system. Start taking this at the very first sign of infection and continue use until symptoms resolve.

  • Yin Qiao San - the "First Responder” When more severe cold and flu infections arise, particularly those including moderate to high-grade fever with sore throat, chills and an aversion to heat, Yin Qiao San is a great option! Other symptoms that typically coincide with fever and indicate use of Yin Qiao San include red and/or inflamed eyes, headache, ear ache, cold sores, and body aches. I suggest using this formula at the first sign of cold or flu, or during the first two days to shorten duration. This formula should be taken in the early stages of infection and really only if “heat-signs” are present, so again, if you’re not sure just ask!

  • Bi Yan Pian - the phlegm buster! This formula is appropriate for head colds with yellow discharge and stuffiness. It can also be used for lingering sinus and respiratory infections with profuse, stubborn thick-type phlegm (maybe even blood-streaked) that just won’t go away and is hard to expel. Naturally, this is a very drying formula, so I recommended it for short-term use only.

  • Gentle Warriors Windbreaker - the BFG with a windscreen One of my go-to formulas for kids, Gentle Warriors is just what the name says: a gentle yet super effective (aka warrior) formula meant to prevent and treat illness, with or without fever. The Windbreaker formula is for any and all respiratory disorders ideally administered when you know your child has potentially been exposed to illness, but is equally effective when symptoms first appear or when your child is in “the thick of it”: ear stuffiness, chills, body aches, itchy eyes or skin, sore or scratchy throat, etc. Use with caution when dehydrated and if fever is above 102° F. Parents, this is powerful enough for you too; just take the higher-dose as directed on the bottle.

  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine - more commonly called NAC  A Practice favorite! For ongoing system support, especially for those who have respiratory sensitivities, NAC’s ability to promote healthy lung function while providing powerful nutritional support to cells makes it an ally for ongoing respiratory health. An amino acid that increases the production of glutathione (a cell protector in the body), it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and mucus thinning properties (just like those over the counter mucus busters). It’s powerful! Many patients use this on an ongoing basis to support their immune system while maintaining respiratory health. 

Proactive immune system support using formulas like these will go a long way in stopping pathogens from interfering with your holiday fun. But I also understand you may need help choosing, or evaluating, treatment options. I’m a little biased, but Acupuncture can not only be effective in boosting your immune system but provides specific support and healing when illness strikes. So if you have questions, or want to explore a mix of supplements, herbs, and/or treatments that are right for your body, schedule time with me here and we’ll work together to find the best combination for you. In the meantime, here are my Top 3½ Tips for Holiday Health!


  1. Keep pears on hand.  Pears are a great way to nourish the lungs, especially when dry coughs begin! They are Yin in nature (restorative quality), thus providing “substance” (in this case moisture) that helps coughs become more productive. Eating them raw can help maintain healthy moisture and mucus production while strengthening disease-fighting abilities. For a chronic, dry cough, poach the pear with some honey and ginger, eat the pear and drink the broth; tastes great and your lungs will love it!

  2. Ginger! All day, every day. Ginger is my all time favorite herb anytime of the year! But in this season ginger can go a long way to keep your body warm, regulate digestive function, ease coughs, stop vomiting and nausea, while supporting immune function. It’s a wintertime powerhouse! Dried ginger (usually in powdered form) is hot in nature (so adds heat to the body) and should be taken if the body has a deep chill but should not be consumed if there is an active fever. Let me explain that further: A single herb can possess different energetic properties depending on how it’s prepared. For example, when ginger is dried out, it goes from having warm properties to hot properties, making its interior warming potential much stronger. So while fresh ginger can be tolerated even if fever is present, dried ginger will likely increase that already existing internal heat.

  3. Keep necks covered.  I cannot emphasize this enough. Modern medicine suggests we do not develop disease from climate exposure, but the ancient Chinese physicians said otherwise. Leaving the back of your neck exposed to the weather can leave you vulnerable to what we call “wind invasion” (you may have noticed a theme there with Windbreaker/Windscreen in the name of the immune boosting Chinese herbs). Wind, which enters through the back of the neck, usually comes with a cold or hot component attached to it and can progress into a more severe manifestation of illness. That's why, in this realm of medicine, we refer to wind as “the origin of the one hundred diseases”. So keep that scarf and hat on and keep the diseases at bay!

  4. Don't skip your acupuncture appointment. If you wake up feeling under-the-weather, your inclination may be to cancel your appointment in order to avoid “getting other people sick”. While it is a very courteous gesture, it’s not at all in your best interest. Acupuncture is a powerful tool for boosting your immune functions and expelling pathogens before they creep deeper into your system. And ultimately, that’s why you come to Serenity Holistic Health, right? For wellness and healing. (And you’re probably wondering why this is “half” of a tip. This one is not about routines like the others, it’s about a moment. No doubt, it’s a really important moment. But in that moment, you decide to let us help you get better and that’s why it made my list. Let us help; it’s why we’re here.)

As always, we are extremely grateful to be able to serve this community. We wish you and your families a warm, healthy, and joy filled Holiday Season!


P.S. Call the office (708-848-4626) to reserve your formula and pick them up curbside!


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