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

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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

Treatment of Shingles (Herpes Zoster) and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you or someone you know is suffering from shingles, there is a lot that can be done to shingles in eyereduce pain, strengthen immunity and get relief using natural therapies. A word of caution: if you are experiencing the shingles rash, pain or unusual symptoms in your face, eyes or ears, this symptom that can have serious consequences such as damage to the eyes or ears leading to loss of vision or hearing. Please visit your doctor immediately.
In Western medicine, the virus causing shingles (varicella-zoster virus) is the same virus that causes chicken pox. When someone gets the chicken pox, eventually the rash clears, but the virus itself does not fully disappear. It lies dormant in the nerve ganglia at the dermatonesspine waiting for another opportunity. When the immune system is down, the virus may then reactivate, this time as shingles. Since the virus lives at the nerve root in the spine, it tends to affect one or multiple dermatomes or areas that the affected spinal nerve controls. Prior to the outbreak, the immune system could have been weakened by chemotherapy, radiation, HIV, fatigue, organ or bone marrow transplant, physical or psychological trauma or a very stressful life event. Shingles also tends to affect those over the age of 50 more than younger people.
According to Asian medicine, shingles is a combination of Wind, Damp and Heat pattern often involving Liver/Gall Bladder and/or Spleen system. It’s interesting that the dermatomes at T9-T12 which are often affected by shingles, is also the area of the spine that corresponds to the Liver, Gall Bladder and Spleen in Asian Medicine. Where Heat predominates, the pain tends to be more intense and the sooner the acupuncture treatment is done, the lesser the chances of intense pain that carries on for months or in some cases years. Palpation of the Fire points shows the extent of the Heat in the body and the corresponding points are treated first before treating the immune system. The Spleen system is also treated because of the burden of Dampness caused by either a pre-existing weak Spleen system (the spleen is also an immune organ in both Eastern and Western medicine) or because the virus itself has weakened the Spleen system which is responsible for controlling Dampness. In either case, Asian medicine offers effective protocols to clear any residual pain or immune weakness caused by shingles.
Once the rashes and blistering have died down, there is often lingering post-herpetic neuralgia (read: intense pain) along the nerve pathway of the affected areathat can go onSt. John wort for months, sometimes years. Getting started with acupuncture soon after the pain starts will cut down the amount of time the pain goes on for. Some patients have been told to try various rash ointments that are intended for another purpose such as eczema or psoriasis, but with little success because the pain is not about the skin. It is caused by the infection at the nerve. An excellent remedy for this type of nerve pain is St. John’s Wart oil rubbed onto the affected area.
Dietary changes can help support the immune system. An acupuncturist can determine whether Damp, Heat or Wind is most predominant in your body. If the Dampness is predominant, it is important to avoid Damp producing foods such as roasted peanuts, dairy products such as milk or ice cream, beer, sugar, concentrated juices or sweeteners, pork, bananas and saturated fats. Refined sugar itself is

Image result for immune boosting mushrooms  known to depress the immune system within hours of consumption.1 If Heat predominates, avoid hot spices, alcohol, coffee, chili, ginger, mustard, lamb, ginseng, maca and other heating foods or herbs. Ways to support the body’s immunity include immune tonics such as ganoderma (reishi mushroom), fermented foods because they promtote healthy gut flora, zinc, selenium and keeping stress levels down (stress reduces Defensive Qi) through relaxation, exercise and meditation.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

Yours in health,
Cynthia

 

References:

1. · Albert Sanchez, J. L. · Reeser, H. S. · Lau, P. Y. · Yahiku, R. E. · Willard, P. J. · McMillan, S. Y. · Cho, A. R. · Magie, and U. D. Register. (1973. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition). The Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophils Phagocytosis. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180

 

 

How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Your Lung System and Skin

Greetings Dear Readers,

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Do you have a penchant for all things old-fashioned or making things from scratch with honest ingredients? I do. Maybe it’s the idea that things were some how more simple or more wholesome in the past?  Anyways, I thought I’d share this recipe for strengthening the lungs and immune system with elderberry syrup. You can find elderberry syrup in a lot of good health food stores, but you can also make it at home for much less and have some fun while you’re at it.

Recently after going through a recovery from mild acute liver failure last December (long story, but I learned some people’s livers cannot process an herb called skullcap – take note!), I’ve been going through a process of trying to detoxify my liver. My naturopath prescribed a powerful homeopathic formula which really cleared the congestion and pain, however I started to get eczema all around my eyes. My naturopath guided me to support my kidneys with herbs to help flush out my system. This makes sense in TCM because the Kidney nourishes the Liver system.

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Five Element Cycle

It worked somewhat, but didn’t see great results until I realized that the Lung system was also involved. In Japanese acupuncture, eczema is often looked at as “Lungs not Controlling Liver”.  Lungs govern the skin, hence the eczema. Most of my life I’ve had a Lung weakness and some skin issues. The Lung system nourishes the Kidneys so Lung Deficiency can create Kidney Deficiency. It was early winter, a time when the Kidney system is more taxed, so I knew had to support my Lung and Kidney systems as well.

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Long story short, elderberry syrup daily along with oolong tea (both are lung tonics) has really cleared up most of the eczema, and incidentally (since the Lung system deals with immunity too) I have not had a cold all winter and normally I get one. Using the Lung system to control the Liver system is a key concept for the spring season when the Liver tends towards imbalance.   Liver Yang excess symptoms such as anger outbursts, muscle tension, temporal or vertex headaches, eye issues, skin rashes, allergies etc. can be helped by supporting the Lung system.

Elderberry Syrup:

3 cups water

1/2 cup dried Elderberries

¼ cup raw honey (preferably local)

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

3-4 cloves (optional)

1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger (optional)

Put all the ingredients except for the honey in a pot and bring to a low boil. Simmer mixture on low for 30 min. Then turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain mixture and press berries well through strainer to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Add honey once the mixture has cooled and stir. Store in the fridge.

Adding the cinnamon, ginger and cloves will add flavour but also heating properties. Avoid adding these spices if you already have a fever, or other heat symptoms such as red rashes, sore throat, or the during spring and summer season.

Happy Healing!

Yours in health,

Cynthia