Boosting Immunity With Acupuncture and TCM
What is the immune system exactly? It’s not an organ or a meridian like we use in Chinese Medicine. So what is it? In Western medicine, it’s described as a group of specific cells that act together in order to protect the body from foreign viral or bacterial invaders. These immune cells live all over the body. That’s why you feel it EVERYWHERE when you start to get sick. Typical symptoms are the headache, body aches, chills and fever, sinus issues, digestive problems, etc etc. Those are your troops rallying together to wage in the war against foreign attack! This immune response is actually a really good thing. Without this response, we would be susceptible to ALL of the foreign invaders ALL the time (that sounds horrible), as opposed to just the biggies.
When talking about boosting the immune system, we really want to make sure your first and second lines of defense are working optimally. If your first defense mechanism isn’t strong enough to kill or remove the virus/bacteria from the equation, your body will bring in the big guns-- the adaptive immune system to finish up the job. This part of your immune system is what vaccines are based off of. The body forms a “memory” of what antibodies it needs when a particular strain of disease attacks again. This is how it has the ability to fight it off faster in the future.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we focus on all systems working together to form the strongest immunity for your body, with an emphasis on a few meridians in particular. We look at sleep, gut health, mental and emotional stressors, and other illnesses affecting the system.
Coined the “wei qi” of the body in TCM terms, the immune system is boosted by ensuring that protective layer is stabilized in each individual. This begins with with lung meridian. Known as the meridian that’s the most affected by external factors, the lung meridian controls both the breath (obviously), but also the skin. If you’ve been around someone that has sneezed in your face, touched you after wiping their nose, been around you while they had the flu or a cold, etc, that might make you more susceptible to whatever they’ve got! Make sure you keep your hands clean and ask someone who is coughing or sneezing to potentially wear a mask if they’re in your environment. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
The second most prominent organ system we look at with immunity is the gut! Would you believe that our immune system STARTS here? More and more research is coming out saying that our digestive health is one of the most influential systems in how we fight off inflammatory agents-- whether that’s allergies, the flu, autoimmune disease, or general colds. The more inflammation your body is trying to reduce in your gut, based on what you feed yourself, the harder it’s going to have to work to reduce inflammation elsewhere.
For example, I had pizza the other night (Yes, I eat pizza sometimes!) and the next 2 days my allergies were terrible. My body was working overtime to digest the inflammatory gut-bomb that I dropped on it and in the meantime, my first lines of defense weren’t able to do its job keeping my allergies at bay. If you eat correctly, and feed yourself well, you’re giving your body the best chance to maintain health on all fronts.
Remember, our immune systems are as unique to each individual as a fingerprint! Not one system is the same, so that’s why things like acupuncture and Chinese herbs are especially helpful when treating the immunity. We can customize every treatment and formula to fit your specific set of issues - whatever they might be. Ask us about how to boost your immunity next time you’re in for a tune-up!