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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

How to Be a Flu Fighter in 2023: Q&A with Dr. Christina Captain

by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer 


Along with the start of a new year comes the peak of another flu season—and if projections are accurate, these next few months will be hard on our immune systems. And that’s on top of continual COVID effects, including a possibility of new variants.  

Researchers from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub estimate there could be as many as 50,000 hospitalizations in 2023 as we confront a period rife with viral strains. So do we even stand a chance of braving this year’s flu season with our health intact?  

Dr. Christina Captain has that covered. As a licensed Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Dr. Captain has a few holistic wellness hacks to treat flu symptoms, as well as long-haul COVID and post-viral fatigue. On that note, it’s my honor to turn this year’s first Community Spotlight article over to her.     

Natural Awakenings: Given recent projections that this flu season will be particularly severe, what are some preventive measures you recommend to boost immune function? 

Dr. Christina Captain: To prevent the spread of illness, the most important action you can take is washing your hands. We have known this for a long time—way before the pandemic even began. I will list some other effective tips for a healthy cold and flu season below:  

  1. Prioritize adequate, optimal sleep. Adequate refers the number of hours you need to sleep, and optimal refers to overall quality of sleep without the influence of medication. Reliance on a sleeping pill does not equate to optimal, restful sleep.   

  2. Drink enough water and consume nutritious food. Eating an unhealthy diet is one of the worst choices you can make when trying to boost immune function.  

  3. Moderate your alcohol intake. In excessive amounts, alcohol will cause dehydration and sugar imbalances, which makes it harder for you to combat germs. 

  4. Supplement with essential nutrients. Some of the key immune-boosting nutrients to focus on include Vitamins C, D, B complex and zinc, to name just a few.   

NA: What are the symptoms of long-COVID or post-viral fatigue that you tend to see in your practice, and which modalities do you use to effectively treat these conditions?  

Dr. Captain: The COVID-19 virus can attack any area of the human body. In my experience with the treatment of long-haul COVID these past few years, I’ve come to understand that the weakest area of a person’s body is the area most affected by COVID-19 (including all its variants). For example, if someone is on the verge of a particular diagnosis, but then is infected with COVID, the virus seems to push that other diagnosis or symptom to the forefront. 

The most common symptom of long-haul COVID is serious, persistent fatigue. This often co-occurs with brain fog, loss of taste and smell, strange sensations in the extremities, and respiratory issues like cough or congestion. Gastrointestinal or cardiovascular issues can develop as well, such as digestive abnormalities, bowel disturbances, and irregular heart rate/rhythm or blood pressure fluctuations. Even memory or cognitive issues can arise after a viral process.  

To treat long-haul COVID or any other post-viral fatigue syndrome, acupuncture is my first line of defense. Acupuncture has a unique ability to be adaptive—rather than just administering treatment to the body, acupuncture provides actual energy for the body to use.  This, in turn, helps the body recover faster by initiating an internal restorative process.   

NA: How does acupuncture work as a method to treat viral symptoms, and is it helpful to use acupuncture in conjunction with other traditional cold or flu treatment modalities?  

Dr. Captain: Acupuncture is like a supercharger for the immune system. It increases the organic compound ATP at the cellular level to stimulate energy production. In combination with ultra-high dilution and botanical/herbal antivirals, you can use acupuncture beat a viral illness before it travels too deep into the body and pulls you down for weeks, if not months.   

NA: If someone has never tried acupuncture before, what advice would you share with them on how to choose the right physician and course of treatment during this flu season?  

Dr. Captain: When choosing an Acupuncture Physician, first look for education and experience, then make sure they are a diplomate via certification by the national board NCCAOM. They also must be licensed by the state of Florida.  

Believe it or not, with all the recent migration down to Florida, many acupuncturists from other states are practicing here without licensure, mostly from their homes. I think it’s best to look for a professional setting to make sure that you are in safe, credible hands.   

Dr. Christina Captain, DAOM, MSAOM, MSHN, MA, AP, is the owner and lead practitioner of Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition. Her practice is located at 2650 Bahia Vista Street, Suite 101, Sarasota. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 941-951-1119 or visit  

Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer. Her personal blog features tips for embracing an active, nutritious, balanced and empowered lifestyle. 

February 2023 Digital Edition











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