Hydrotherapy and boosting the immune system

Posted January 18, 2015 | kids

By Lisa Yang, ND

The winter season can be a hard time on our immune systems, especially when everyone in the family catches a cold.  Staying hydrated, eating nutrient and vitamin dense foods and taking supplements are all great ways to support the immune system.  But there are additional at home therapies that can be done in your very own bath tub.

Our main organs of elimination are the kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, skin and colon. Supporting these pathways of elimination leads to reduction of toxins and metabolic wastes, as well as activate the immune system. Daily hydrotherapy is a great way to support the emuctories. By manipulating the temperature of water, we are creating pumping actions on the vessels as well as the supporting lymphatic system which is vital for moving infections through the body. The following are a few simple ways to support these pathways to boost our immune system.

Contrast hydrotherapy showers:

Steps required:
Hot water stage: make sure to get all body parts wet for 1-3 minutes
Cool to cold water stage: then change the water temperature to lukewarm to cool and rinse for 30 seconds
Repeat the hot and cool alternations 3 times, always ending in cold before stepping out of the shower or bath

How it works:

The concept here is very simple. When taking a hot shower, the heat dilates the blood vessels, bringing blood to the surface of the skin. The lukewarm to cool water, will constrict local blood vessels, pushing the blood back to heart. As you alternate the temperature of the water, you are creating a natural “pump” like action on the vasculature. This dilation and constriction of blood vessels helps to circulate the blood, clear out inflammation, and stimulate the immune system to fight off infections.

Abdominal contrast hydrotherapy:  If contrast showers are too difficult to perform, this is a great alternative

Steps required:
Two towels that will appropriately cover the abdomen are necessary. Place the towel in hot water, test the temperature of the towel before applying on the skin. Have a separate towel for  the cool application. Apply the hot towel to the abdomen for 1 minute and the cool towel for 30 seconds, repeat for a total of 3 cycles, always ending with the cool application.

How it works:
The concept with the abdominal applications is similar to contrast showers. A large portion of our immune system especially immune cells that help to fight off viruses and pathogens are located in the gut. Direct contrast applications to the abdomen can create the pump like action to the vasculature of the small intestine and colon. Supporting the circulation within the bowels, can stimulate the immune system and also support gut motility. The cold application stimulates peristalsis in the gut, which helps to form bowel movements and further support detoxification.

Epsom salt baths:

Steps required:
Adding epsom salt into a bath tub of warm water to soak for 15-20 minutes. Performing this nightly for a minimum of three times per week.

How it works:
Not only can the bath be relaxing, but adding epsom salt is a great way to support sulfonation pathways  which assist in the formation of glutathione. Glutathione is a major antioxidant in the body that helps to detoxify, reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and also acts as a major immune modulator.

If you suspect your child is sick, need guidance on which supplements or other supportive measures to give yourself or your child, please make an appointment. We are here to serve you and your family!

Asthma and allergies

Posted December 22, 2014 | kids

By Dr. Lisa Yang, ND

Asthma is a disease of inflammation of the airways. It affects approximately 24 million people in the United States and its the most common airway disease in children, affected an estimated 7 million children (1). It is characterized by hyperactivity to various triggers. Asthma tends to be episodic and there can be periods of low to no symptoms between exacerbations.

There are different components to asthma that makes it complex condition: there is airway inflammation, intermittent airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. When the airways react, inflammatory proteins and mucus secretion will make the airways swollen, sensitive and the muscles around the airways will tighten. Therefore narrowing the airways and making it difficult to breathe. With the decrease in airflow, the airways will respond by distending to allow for better air flow. But by doing so, this changes the mechanics of breathing and can lead to further problems if not controlled.

Symptoms may include wheezing, cough that can be present both in the day and at night, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Children who have chronic or recurrent bronchitis may have an underlying diagnosis of asthma. With exercise induced asthma, your child may only have symptoms during physical activity. He or she may complain of having difficulty keeping up in physical education class or symptoms may present itself a few minutes after completion of the exercise.

Exacerbations of asthma are often due to infection, allergen exposure (ie. house dust mites, animal allergies especially, etc), occupational and environmental exposures. Because of the multitude of different triggers for asthma it is essential to identify these causes. It is important to reduce not only the risk of worsening asthma but to also reduce the risk of developing skin symptoms like eczema and worsening of environmental and food allergies.

And so, identifying underlying allergen exposures that may be causing acute exacerbations will help to manage asthma symptoms. There are many different environmental changes that can be done to improve inhaled allergen exposure.

To name a few:

  • Keeping bedroom door closed
  • Bedroom free of animals
  • Cleaning the house regularly especially if there is carpet
  • Using special covers to keep dust mites away
  • Purchasing a filter for the house.

Identifying and reducing allergenic foods with the guidance of your doctor or nutritionist can help reduce total body burden and reduce skin symptoms.

  • Consider IgE and/or IgG food testing
  • Allergy testing- skin or serum

There are also many nutritional supplements that can help support the tissues of the lungs, provide antioxidant support and reduce total body inflammation.

  • Vitamin C- is the most abundant antioxidant found in the lung’s inner tissues
  • Quercetin- is a powerful flavonoid and antioxidant
  • Fish oil- helpful to reduce the inflammatory response
  • N-acetyl-cysteine- can be beneficial in breaking down mucus plugs. NAC can also be nebulized as treatment

Working on these underlying factors, supporting the lung tissue and having rescue medications on hand are key to managing asthma.

If you suspect your child may have asthma, it is important to consult with your doctor.


1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/296301-overview
Photo: http://ccceh.org/news/bpa-raise-risk-for-childhood-asthma

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