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 marrow, 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 by 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.
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
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 skin 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 series of 5 treatments for the fall and winter season, to encourage you to see for yourself the immune supporting benefits acupuncture can provide.
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.
Herbs that Strengthen Immunity
Licorice (avoid if blood pressure is high), tusli, honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, elderberry, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, yarrow, tumeric, echinacea.
Wishing you health and happiness!
- 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