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

Easy Qi Gong Exercise to Strengthen Immunity

Greetings Dear Readers,

Here is a simple Qi Gong exercise that you can do to wake up your cells, invigorate your body, and strengthen your immunity.  It’s called “patting” or “slapping”.  You’ll really enjoy this exercise and feel the effects quite quickly.  Use it any time you feel a bit tired and sluggish and need an energetic “wake-up”.  It’s like a mini acupressure treatment you can do on yourself anywhere.   You simply use your hands to slap the outside and inside channels of the arms and legs, hands and feet, the buttocks, ribs, face and top of the head.  If you have a cold, and especially if you feel like you are just starting to get a cold, apply this technique vigorously to push the cold out completely.  I personally know of one guy who had been biking in the cold weather for an hour and started to come down with a bad cold.  He did this technique forcefully for one hour and the cold symptoms disappeared that day.

In TCM terms this exercise strengthens the “Wei Qi”, also known as the “Defensive Qi Layer” which is the energetic layer that resides between the skin and the muscles, what’s known as the “Cou Li” in TCM.  The Wei Qi is formed by the Lung system, so people who have a Lung weakness will tend to get colds and flus more easily.  The Lung system is strengthened by the Spleen system because in the Five Element acupuncture, the Spleen is the “Mother” of the Lungs, meaning the Spleen sends it’s energy to the next phase, or “child” in the 5-phase system, which is the Lungs.  The tips in my post Strengthening the Spleen Qi will further build up your Defensive Qi.

Wishing you a happy, healthy winter season.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Raw Cashew Cheese Dip Soothes the Lungs and Large Intestine

Greetings Dear Readers,

Many who have transitioned to a dairy-free or vegan diet enjoy cheese and dearly miss it

Creamy Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

Creamy Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese

when they feel called to eat this way.  Many have tried dairy alternatives such as soy cheese and found it to be a poor substitute, myself included.   Alas!  There is a very rich and dreamy food experience that many have not yet discovered: raw vegan nut cheeses!  Try something different today!  Delicious rich nuttiness blended with nutritional yeast for extra cheesey flavour and vitamin B nutrition combined with tangey citrus and a little garlic or herbs for flavour and show, a red pepper mixed in to make an orange coloured raw cheese dip – oh the creative possibilities in texture, colour and flavour are endless!  Nut cheeses are a gourmet art.

Here I’m just giving you a simple basic recipe to get you started along with, of course, health information from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so you can understand the health benefits of your health food adventures.  From a TCM perspective, dairy cheese is Damp-forming.  Too much Dampness (runny nose, cysts, sinus congestion, weight gain, coughing up sputum, sluggishness, foggy-mindedness, etc.) is often a reason why vegetarians run into digestive problems and end up going back to eating meat.  Many vegetarians eat “salad and cheese” meals regularly which quickly leads to “Cold-Damp” (lettuce is thermally Cold and dairy is Damp) which then leads them to an acupuncturist who tells them they need to quit being vegetarian and start eating meat.  This is a very common story.  Well, as a vegan myself for many years, I’ve learned to adjust the diet to achieve good health.  Here we are mixing the old with the new.  The TCM sages of yesteryear did not have access to marvellous electrical appliances such as blenders which pre-digest the food to make it less work for your body.  These raw vegan cheeses will counter-balance the Cold nature of dairy because nuts are warming and the garlic, mustard and vinegar will help clear Dampness.

Cashews

Cashews moisturize the lungs and colon.  The lungs and colon belong to the Metal element in TCM which also corresponds with the autumn season, the best time of year for eating nuts.   Cashews treat Lung Dryness issues such as dry cough, wheezing (dyspnea), bronchiectasis, external pathogens (i.e. “colds and flus” in Western terms) and Large Intestine dryness such as dry stools that are difficult to pass, dry mouth and throat and chronic Yin and Blood deficiency.

Nutritional Yeast

This is a great addition to most people’s diet if you haven’t yet discovered it.  It is a healthy kind of yeast that contains an abundance of B vitamins and certain minerals.  Not to worry, candida, or “yeast infection” in your body is not the same species of yeast.   Nutritional yeast is a great food supplement especially for vegetarians and vegans due to its’ high levels of b12 and folic acid.  For the nutritional profile of nutritional yeast click here.

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaking 2-4 hours improves nutritional quality)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup filtered water (add a bit at a time until desired thickness)
  • 1/4 cup juice of fresh lemon (or lime)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
  1. Place the cashews, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.
  2. Gradually add in more lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, garlic and salt to taste.  Garlic as optional but does add a lot of flavour.
  3. Use as a dip for celery, carrots, or dehydrator chips/breads.
  4. Enjoy!

Yours in health,

Cynthia