Immune-Boosting Tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine

Greetings Dear Readers,

Our immune system performs a complex range of tasks to overcome various types of foreign invaders and diseases.  Several organs and processes are involved such as bone lymph-systemmarrow, lymphocytes, the spleen, lymph nodes, and the thymus gland.  White blood cells such as neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells identify what is not our body and destroy those cells.  Eastern medicine focuses on building up the body’s internal defense system so that the microbe has no chance of getting a foothold.

Strengthening the immune response involves building the Defensive Qi, an energetic layer of Yang (warm, invigorating) energy that lives between the skin and the muscles.  Since Defensive energy depends on sufficient strength and warmth of the body, this explains why we need to keep our body warm in fall and winter and get enough rest to keep colds at bay.  When the Defensive energy is strong we either don’t catch the cold or flu going around, or if we do catch it, our body has the strength to fight it off quickly.  One recent study presented bysleep the Sleep Research Society concluded that those who sleep only 5-6 hours per night have a greater risk of catching a cold.

The lymph system acts as the body’s internal vacuum cleaner, cleaning up all the microbes and waste materials and flushing them out.  Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it requires exercise or therapy such as massage, cupping, or skin brushing to move the lymph to promote proper drainage.  For this reason, it is so important to get some type of regular exercise to avoid lymph stagnation which can weaken immunity.

There are also foods and herbs that can support the strengthening of the Yang/Defensive energy as well as improve blood circulation to support lymph drainage.

Foods that Strengthen Immunity:

Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cabbage, parsley), mushrooms (shitake, reishi, chaga, oyster, etc.), raw honey, goji berries, fermented foods (such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, yogurt without sugar), coconuts and coconut oil, berries, chlorella, garlic, ginger, green tea.miso-soup

Herbs that Strengthen Immunity

Licorice (avoid if blood pressure is high), tusli,  honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, elderberry, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, yarrow, tumeric, echinacea.

Foods that Weaken Immunity

Sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, processed fats such as margarine, trans-fats, fried foods, rancid oils, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, rancid oils, red meat, alcohol, drugs, processed foods, and foods that are not fresh.

Two Great Acupressure Points to Stimulate Your Immune System

Stomach 36 (Zu San Li). This is one of the most important points of the whole body because it strengthens the body in a multitude of ways, strengthening energy, blood, Yin and Yang.  You just can’t go wrong

st36

Here is ST 36

using this point:)  You can find it by placing your hand under your knee cap, then directly under your hand at about one thumb’s distance lateral to the tibia (that big bone at the front of your leg) you will find a depression, or little dip along the skin and this depressed area is ST 36.  Give this point some good pressure for several minutes, then do the other side.

Another great point is point is Large Intestine 11. You can find this point by bending your arm so that you see the elbow crease on the li11skin at the lateral side of the elbow joint.  The end of the elbow crease marks Large Intestine 11.  Pressing around this area may reveal some tenderness.  Give this area some good pressure regularly.  It is a homeostatic point that regulates both an under-active immune system (frequents colds, flus, cancer) as well as an overactive immune system (allergies, auto-immune disorders).

Regular acupuncture treatments can also build up immunity using point combinations to strengthen your Defensive energy, your warming invigorating Yang energy, as well improving circulation of blood and lymph depending on what each individual requires.  Each acupuncture treatment builds upon each other and for this reason I recommend a relaxing-acupunctureseries of 5 treatments. This is why I have put together this Immune-Boosting Package of 5 treatments at a discount price for the fall and winter season, to encourage you to see for yourself the immune supporting benefits acupuncture can provide.

Wishing you health and happiness!

Cynthia

References:

  1. Aric A. Prather, PhD1; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD2; Martica H. Hall, PhD3; Sheldon Cohen, PhD2 Prather AA, Janicki-Deverts D, Hall MH, Cohen S. (November 2016).  Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. VOLUME 38, ISSUE 09.SLEEP
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Why I Love Yarrow Tea

Greetings Dear Readers,

yarrow tea

Yep, I got one of those nasty summer colds.  Here I am in Toronto, in a summer with extreme heatwaves for the last two months, and then getting a “cold” which is not cold at all but making me uber hot and sweaty, as if I weren’t enough already!  Anyhow, I just happened to have some yarrow tea on hand (that I just happened to have because it’s a great  hair rinse) and it so happens to also be good for “releasing the Exterior” as they say in TCM, or “sweating it out” in lay terms.  The cool thing about Yarrow is that once you start sweating it out, this breaks the fever so you end up cooler, yay!

I felt perplexed as to why I got this cold in the first place with all the Vitamin D, camu camu, and elderberry that I take.  But truth be told, I was spooning back the peanut butter like the factory would close tomorrow.  Now that’s a lot of Damp Heat that peanuts create, on top of the damp hot humid weather going on all summer, what’s a girl to do?  Oh but it tasted so good! And no problems for two months, then whammo!

So I gave yarrow a try and the exciting thing was that this cold felt really different from every cold I’ve had in the last 15 years I’d say. Rather than lingering on for 9 days, it came on hard and left just as quickly.  In TCM, when the Defensive energy (read: immune system) is weak, the body can’t put up a big fight against the pathogen so the bug carries on and on.  If the Defensive Qi is really strong, the fight is intense, high fever, feeling really sick, then suddenly it’s all over.  That’s how I feel this morning. Like these two have had their duel – I couldn’t even sleep til 1 am last night nose running like Niagara Falls, throat sore as anything, achy joints, felt sick as a dog, and now this morning I feel almost normal, congestion all dried up, throat is 90% better, a little bit achy still, and tired because of poor sleep, but it feels like the bug is 90% gone.  Wow, that hasn’t happened to me since I was a kid!

So I think the peanut butter feasts eventually caught up with me, but the yarrow tea that I drank over and over yesterday really strengthened my immune system quickly pushing the pathogen out hard and fast.  And now here I am, ready to go to work today.  Feels like a small miracle:)

Yarrow tea is a great decongestant that melts all the phlegm in your body down to a nice watery-ness that your body can expel really easily.  My herbal teacher Diane Kent explained to us that some over-the-counter cold medications actually dry up your lungs without helping the body release the pathogen.  So the Dampness now becomes Phlegm which is so much harder to expel causing the virus to linger for a lot longer.  In a nut shell, if you’re getting a cold, try to take a day off work and load up on the yarrow tea.  It will strengthen your Defensive Qi so you can push that mess out of your body quickly and then you can live as normal, but all the wiser knowing that too much Damp foods like peanut butter and a sticky summer heat wave just don’t go together.

Yours in health,

Cynthia