Getting sick with a cold or flu is the quickest way to slow down productivity, plans and motivation. Fortunately, there are easy ways one can naturally boost their immune system, keeping both you and your family healthy and happy.

What is the easiest way to avoid getting sick? WASH YOUR HANDS.  Obvious enough washing your hands keeps germs out of your mouth, nose, eyes and most importantly out of your body. Remember its key to wash your hands before eating and drinking and after being out in public places.

Eat well: Nutrition plays a vital role in immunity.  If we want our bodies to be able to fight off germs, we need to provide our bodies with proper nutrition.

  • Yogurt: Yogurt gives your gut probiotics to help keep your digestive tract moving and keep germs at bay.
  • Garlic: Garlic contains allicin, which is an active property which helps fight infection and bacteria.
  • Tea: Consuming 2-3 cups of green or black tea each day can help increase L-theanine, an amino acid which is responsible for improving immunity. In addition, drinking tea improves hydration which is vital for health.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cell. White blood cells are essential for fighting infection.
  • Citrus foods: You guessed it- vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to improve immunity, so add an orange or a grapefruit to your morning routine.
  • Ginger: Ginger is a strong antioxidant. In addition, it is antimicrobial which kills bacteria. It has anti-inflammatory properties which calm the immune system and can help optimize it’s function.

Exercise: Exercise is associated with lower risk of getting sick. A research study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine surveyed over 4000 people on their health habits. They found that people who exercised vigorously for at least 2 ½ hours per week were 10% less likely to come down with the flu. It is important not to overdo it though. Allow your body time to rest and recover. Yoga is another form of exercise that has been shown to improve immunity. This form of exercise improves fitness, while reducing stress hormones.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture treatments can support and strengthen your immune system. It is a preventative form of treatment. Acupuncture can increase white blood cells in the body and moderate the immune system to allow it to react quickly to threats (viruses). One of the main points in acupuncture used to help boost the immune system is large intestine 11. This can also be used as an acupressure point which may help to prevent you from getting sick with a cold or flu. Large intestine 11 is also useful for clearing heat (fever), nasal or chest congestion and for alleviating frontal headaches.
The acupuncture and acupressure point is located on the outer edge of your elbow crease. As with most acupressure points, hold and press lightly for 1-3 minutes or until you feel a pulsing sensation. If you are using the acupressure point to help prevent yourself from getting sick, pressing it on a regular basis, as well as when you are are around someone who is sick, may help build your defenses to be able to fend off the virus or bacteria. If you are already sick, holding and pressing the the acupressure point 3-5 times daily for the duration of your cold and flu can help to lessen the amount of days you may be sick. You may notice that you feel worse before you feel better. That happens because your body is processing the cold/flu at a faster rate.

Sleep: Your body needs an opportunity to rest and recover. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Turn off that late night television and hit the pillow. You will feel refreshed in the morning and your immune system will have a chance to rest and reboot.

Stay social: Relationships are important to immune health. People with healthy friendships and relationships are known to have improved immunity, as compared with loners. People that have little connection to other people are known to have higher stress levels and worse immunity. So, relish in your relationships, and make time to talk, laugh, and reminisce. Make an effort to find one new connection this month.

Relax: Try getting a regular massage, or better yet, have your partner give you a 20 minute rub-down. Moderate pressure massages, decrease cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that impairs immunity. Massage stimulates your nervous system so cortisol levels are released at a slower rate. While we are on the topic, find ways to relax every day. Take a bubble bath, meditate, go for a walk, read a book etc. It is important to reduce stress levels, thereby reducing stress hormones in your body, and improving your immunity.

If you do get sick, allow your body to rest and fight off the virus. Take a day or two off of work. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and feed your body proper nutrition. By listening to your body, you will feel better faster.

Disclaimer:  The material provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed.  It is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition.  For diagnosis or treatment of any medical problem, consult your physician or healthcare practitioner.

A.Turchiaro 2022 ©


Isn’t it amazing how quickly children are able to learn new things, recite stories and, even learn multiple languages? Well, this doesn’t happen by chance. Children are continuously training their brain and engaging new areas of thinking, as they learn motor skills, play, begin school, and problem solve. As adults, it is important that we don’t fall into the rut of day to day life. We need to find ways to challenge our brain, develop new skills, and keep our problem solving sharp. Memory is an important brain skill that must be challenged so that it does not weaken. We can improve our memory with an active practice. Here are some tips to improve your memory, starting today!

  1. Learn a new skill: Is there something that you have always wanted to learn, but have not yet? Well, get out there and do it! Challenging your brain by learning a new skill builds new connections in your brain, which is like strength training for your mind. Try learning a musical instrument, painting, writing a poem, or even horseback riding. By actively engaging your brain, you will improve your thinking capacity and memory.
  2. Read a good book: Head to your library and pick up the latest bestseller. Better yet, find a good autobiography or non-­‐fiction historical book. Reading forces your brain to remember characters, events, and utilize imagination to visualize situations happening in the story. By reading for information (like with a non-­‐fiction book), your brain is working harder to remember events and details. Reading is an excellent way to improve memory and develop vocabulary.
  3. Recite by heart: Children are able to recite nursery rhymes and children’s’ songs by heart with ease. Try learning a favorite poem, song or limerick and recite it by heart. You will bring joy to yourself and others, and it will make for a great party trick. By learning, remembering, and reciting several verses, you are actively improving your memory.
  4. Channel your inner artist: Draw, paint, sculpt, color and scribble. Challenge yourself to create something from your own brain. You will create new brain connections and challenge your visual imagery, trying to create what you envision in your mind.
  5. Sleep: While this may not seem like a very active way to improve your memory, sleep is vital! Your brain is working constantly throughout the day, so it deserves time for rest at night. In addition, your brain does not totally shut off when you shut your eyes. Your brain is solidifying new brain pathways while you sleep. Aim for 7-­‐8 hours each night.
  6. Actively remember and repeat: Many people complain about their inability to remember other people’s names. One way to improve your name recall is to actively remember and repeat a person’s name when you meet him. Look the person in the eyes, say something like “Hi Tom, it is nice to meet you. Where are you from Tom?” This way you are actively reciting his name, while visualizing him and creating a “pocket” in your brain for Tom. Let’s say Tom is from Toronto. Well, this is even better. You can correlate Tom’s face, with his name Tom, and coming from Toronto. Use word games to find an association and make it easier to remember new people.
  7. Feed yourself well: In order to improve your memory, your brain needs adequate nutrition, oxygen, and hydration. This may seem obvious, but people don’t often think of brain health when they are eating donuts and pizza all day. Your brain needs adequate carbohydrate nutrition for proper function. Make sure you are feeding your brain healthy carbohydrates from sources like whole grains and fruits. In addition, your brain needs healthy fats for enhanced brain function. Increase your healthy fat intake from fish or fish oil as well as avocados, nuts, and olive oil.  

Using these strategies will surely improve your memory recall. Try implementing one strategy per day. In one week’s time, you will be well on your way to a sharper mind and stellar memory!

Disclaimer:  The material provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed.  It is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition.  For diagnosis or treatment of any medical problem, consult your physician or healthcare practitioner.

A.Turchiaro 2022 ©


Sciatica is a term that is loosely thrown around amongst people to describe pain in their  backsides. True sciatica, however, comes from irritation of the sciatic nerve. This irritation causes pain  in the low back, buttocks, and shoots down the back of the leg. Sciatic pain is typically described as  sharp, stabbing and intense. Sciatic pain is not usually constant; it is felt with change in position or quick  movement. Most people only experience the symptoms on one side of the body. In order to relieve  sciatic pain, it is important to have an understanding of the anatomy of the structuresinvolved. 

Sciatica is aptly named because the symptoms follow the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic  nerve is a large nerve the runs along the backside of the legs, stemming from the nerves of the low back.  Depending on where the nerve is irritated, different parts of the buttocks or leg can be affected. 

Sciatic nerve irritation usually comes about when something compresses part of the nerve and  causes irritation. This compression can be a result of back issues, arthritis, muscle tension and pressure.  Some people are more prone to develop sciatic pain, including those with low activity level, obesity,  older age, pregnant or with diabetes. 

Even though the pain associated with sciatica can be quite severe and limiting, the symptoms  are often resolved with conservative management, including specific stretches and acupuncture. 

In a study published in 2013, researchers reviewed findings of 122 published studies that  examined treatment interventions for sciatica relief. They looked to see what treatment interventions  showed positive outcomes and what showed no effect. This meta–‐analysis determined that there were positive outcomes for medical interventions of pain medication, epidural injections and spinal surgery.  They also found that acupuncture showed positive outcomes with resolution of symptoms after  intervention. The benefit of acupuncture is that it is minimally invasive, unlike epidural injections and  spinal surgery. In addition, acupuncture combines appropriate stretching for maximal outcomes. 

Home stretches are important to relieve sciatic pain. They are easy to do and don’t take long. Find  an open space on your floor or bed and allow your muscles to relax. Follow these stretches for sciatic  relief: *Remember, you should feel a comfortable pulling sensation; do not push a stretch into pain. 

1. Piriformis stretch: The piriformis is a triangular shaped muscle that runs closely to the sciatic  nerve in the buttocks. When this muscle is tight, it can cause rubbing and irritation of the sciatic  nerve. It is important to stretch the piriformis as part of your exercises. 

a. Lay on the floor with your legs straight. Bring your left knee up toward your right  shoulder. Reach with your right arm to give a gentle pull on your knee. You should feel  a stretch in the side of your buttocks and hip. Hold this position for 30 seconds and  repeat 3 times. Then, repeat on the other leg. 

2. Knee to chest stretch: The buttocks muscles need to be stretched as they can contribute to  sciatic nerve compression. The knee to chest stretch is easy and effective. 

a. Lay on the floor with both legs straight. Bend one hip and knee and bring your knee  straight up toward your chest. Hold this position with your arms until you feel a stretch in your buttocks. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Repeat on the  other leg. 

3. Hamstring stretch: Because the sciatic nerve runs right along the hamstring muscle, it is  important to stretch the hamstrings. 

a. Sit at the edge of a chair with your leg extended in front of you. Your knee should be  straight and your heel touching the floor, with your toes pointing up toward the ceiling.  Keep a tall posture and hinge forward at your hips until you feel a gentle pull behind  your leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Then, repeat on the  other leg. 

It is important to address sciatic symptoms early to avoid permanent nerve irritation and potential nerve  damage. Conservative treatment with stretching and acupuncture can resolve symptoms quickly and  effectively. 

Reference: Lewis, R. A., N. H. Williams, and A. J. Sutton et al. “Comparative Clinical Effectiveness of  Management Strategies for Sciatica: Systematic Review and Network Meta-‐‐analyses.” Spine J (2013): Oct 4. 

Disclaimer: The material provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects  discussed. It is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. For diagnosis or  treatment of any medical problem, consult your physician or healthcare practitioner. 

A.Turchiaro 2022 ©


What are migraines?

For people dealing with recurrent migraines, the pain and pressure associated with a migraine attack are usually described as debilitating, blinding and intense.  Migraines are moderate to severely intense headaches that typically last several hours.  They can be pulsating and are often felt on one side of the head.  They can be associated with nausea or vomiting.  In addition, they are often associated with sensitivity to light and sound.  Some people experience episodic migraines, which are less frequent, while others suffer with chronic migraines, which happen 15 or more times per month.  If you suffer from migraines, there are strategies you can use to help reduce the frequency and intensity of symptoms you experience. 

How can I try to prevent a migraine attack?

Sleep well:  Migraines are often triggered by poor sleep.  Try to establish a good sleep routine and stick to it.  Make it a point to relax at the end of the day.  Minimize distractions in your bedroom so that you are able to fall asleep easily.  Your bedroom should be for sleep and intimacy only.  Do not keep a television, computer or other electronic distraction in your bedroom.

Eat healthy:  Migraines are associated with poor nutrition.  It is important to eat regular meals and avoid skipping meals.  You should try to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.  In addition, there are specific foods that can trigger migraine attacks.  Avoid aged cheeses, caffeine, chocolate and alcohol as these foods are known to trigger attacks.

Engage in moderate exercise:  Moderate intensity exercise is known to block pain receptors in the brain and reduce stress hormone levels in the body, which will help reduce onset of migraine attacks.  It is important to begin an exercise routine slowly, as too vigorous a workout can trigger a migraine.

Simplify your life and find ways to reduce stress:  Migraines are associated with episodes of high levels of stress and chronic stress.  Try to find ways to reduce the stress in your life, by reducing your commitments, taking a break from work during your day and decreasing how much you worry.  Find ways to relax through diaphragmatic breathing, meditation and yoga. 

What are some suggestions to cope with a migraine attack?

If you find yourself dealing with a migraine attack, try one of these strategies to get through it:

Turn off the lights:  Light can increase the intensity of a migraine and can be a trigger for migraine onset.  Turn the lights off and close your eyes.

Try hot or cold compresses:  For some people, applying heat or ice packs to the back of the neck or on the forehead can help alleviate pain.

Try a gentle temple massage:  Take three fingers and apply light, circular massage to the sides of your head.  This can decrease pain associated with tension.

Find a quiet space:  Move to a room with no sounds or very little noise.  As sounds can trigger migraine attacks, removing noise can help decrease the length of the migraine attack.

Can acupuncture reduce migraine pain?

Yes!  Researchers have published data which shows that acupuncture reduces pain levels in acute migraine attacks.  In a study published in 2012, researchers looked to determine if true acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture for pain reduction in acute migraine attacks.  They followed 150 people over a two year time period and randomly assigned them to acupuncture verses sham acupuncture groups.  When an acute migraine attack came on, one group received true acupuncture and the other group of participants received sham (fake) acupuncture treatment.  They rated outcomes by patient’s report of pain using the visual analog scale.  This scale is used to rate pain from 0-10.  Those receiving true acupuncture reported a decrease in pain on average of 2 ½ numbers, while those with sham treatment only reported an improvement by ¾ numerical value on average.  The patients that received true acupuncture treatment reported significant improvement in pain symptoms over those that had sham treatment.

Wang et al. Efficacy of acupuncture for acute migraine attack: a multicenter single blinded, randomized controlled trial. Pain Med. 2012 May 13):623-30.

Disclaimer: The material provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects  discussed. It is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. For diagnosis or  treatment of any medical problem, consult your physician or healthcare practitioner. 

A.Turchiaro 2022 ©