Santa Ana Wind Alert: Your Immunity Now!


Last week, we heard a cold Santa Ana was blowing over. Considering my front door blew open, the hammock turned over on its own and the windows were shaking, I’d say it was right on schedule. With another wind-spell on it’s way, a hot one this time around, I’ve been telling everyone, “protect your neck!”

Ever wonder why you get a cold, sore throat or cough during the Santa Ana weather shift?

If you live in So-Cal, you’re familiar with the summer-like desert winds that blow in from the Santa Anas to warm us up in the midst of winter. While the wind ushers in that warm weather we love so much, it also activates the immune system; leaving us vulnerable to seasonal pathogenic influences.

Believe me, your grandma knew what she was talking about when she wrapped you up tightly in your scarf. While it’s true that you aren’t going to get sick directly from the weather, the wind can act as a vehicle to deliver pathogenic influences into your bod. When the winds are whipping, our pores open and close; regulating the surface tissues. Tiny little bacterial and viral pathogens sneak their way in during these windy times; setting up camp in your nose, throat, lungs and ears often resulting in upper respiratory concerns.

So, what can you do to protect your immune system during these dramatic mid-season weather shifts?

Pack a cloth scarf, wrap up! It might still be warm, but wear a light scarf to protect your neck. If you’re a regular gym-goer, this is an especially important one for you! Pat down after an invigorating work-out as you usually do, but then wrap a scarf or dry towel around your neck before walking out into the windy weather.

I always get calls from athletes this time of year who are in great shape and health, but exposed to the elements while sweating. Even the healthiest of us can still catch what’s moving through the air!

Visit your acupuncturist for a seasonal tune-up

Acupuncture has been shown to maintain homeostasis of the immune system by mediating the balance of both helper and suppressor T cells, increasing natural killer cells and regulating leukocyte numbers. If you catch it quick enough, your practitioner can stop a cold or flu in its tracks by relieving wind and stabilizing the exterior, thus, keeping pathogens from entering your blood stream that would otherwise make you feel sick.

Learn more about regulating immunity with Chinese medicine here.

Eat and drink seasonal foods

Spice it up! Add leeks, onions, chives and garlic to your soups. Slice ginger for your tea. Once released, the volatile oils contained within these medicinal foods help activate anti-microbial activity. Rich is selenium, potassium, vitamin C and chromium, they’ll help the endocrine system communicate better with the immune system, keeping you fortified and protected.

Try friend and colleague, Dr. Nishant’s therapeutic flu-fighting tea. I love sipping this spicy decoction when my immune system seems to be dipping. The mixture of garlic, cayenne and ginger turns me right around!

Just last week when that Santa Ana started rolling in I lost my voice. Along with Dr. Nishant’s tea, I enjoyed several days of my immune boosting stamina soup. Try it, you’ll love it… You can even puree the veggies to give it to the kids!

Stay Healthy

Tis the season to keep cold and flu at bay. Here’s a bundle of articles with helpful tips and treatment suggestions to make it happen.

Thinking about taking antibiotics for a cold or flu-related health concern? Check this out before popping the pills… Learn about when to give them to the kiddies too! Your tots are resilient; here’s my tips to take care of the kids during cold and flu season sans drugs*.

My best advice? Pick up your phone to call your health care provider if you suspect something serious*. Your health care provider will know which treatments best fit your current concerns.

Have questions or your tips to share? Drop a comment in the box below!

3 thoughts on “Santa Ana Wind Alert: Your Immunity Now!

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this article! I often wonder why we get sick and you cover everything from dress to diet. What about stress? Curious what role stress plays in our health…

    Keep writing,

  2. Stress is a blanket term which describes how we perceive and integrate environmental influences physiologically. This means we can choose how it will affect us (most of the time) if we learn how to harness it. Identifying possible environmental triggers such as work atmosphere, school, family, road rage, whatever, will certainly help determine what seems to be playing a positive or potentially negative role in our everyday health and wellness.

    Stress isn’t always a bad thing… Simplified, it translates neutrally to “impact.” Some “thing” that exerts its impact upon us (our perceptions and therefore physiological responses). Take exercise for example. Exercising elicits a physiological response very similar to a fight or flight response where the bio-chemical/neuro-hormones cortisol, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and dopamine are engaged. Exercising reminds us that we’re alive because of this engagement; the act of our body in intense motion “stresses” the body or exerts this favorable neuro-biological process. These helpful chemical messengers can reduce negative environmental influences by enhancing cognition, sleep and physical stamina (all of which recover muscular health and enhance immune response).

    This is a prime example of harnessing stress. It might also be an easy example to grasp because fulfillment from exercise is a subconscious gratification for most of use.

    How about an ongoing situation at work with a colleague that’s exerting an impact; it’s stressing you out. You’re on edge, go home tired and anxious, but most of all, have trouble relaxing because you’re anticipating the same scenario the following day. Sound familiar?

    The same neuro-chemical messengers are being fired out, but at a more rapid rate until eventually, if the environmental situation doesn’t shift, these once beneficial messengers become exhausted at their source potentially wreaking havoc as they travel throughout systemically.

    You know the all too common signs; fatigue, moodiness, possible bouts of depression and anger and compromised immunity.

    So, what can you do about stress? Well, you have the power. It’s true that transforming our perceptions of what stress “is” can take some time, but once you really examine the environmental triggers, the biggest changes can come about.

    Try this:

    The next time this co-worker comes walking down the hall or your “stressor” appears, take a nice breath and say in your mind, “I’m going to RESPOND, not REACT.” This simple act of re-framing gives you time to chill, it adds in a thoughtful element keeping you from flying off the handle or having a mini-panic attack… Responding thoughtfully also sends a great message to the brain telling it to engage the cascade of calming and centering neuro-chemicals.

    So much more to say! Great question, thanks so much for asking!

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