Acupuncture and Your Immunity

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

  • Are you feeling run down, stuffed up, like your head is going to explode?
  • Are your children or co-workers sick?
  • Have you been outside in the cold enjoying this beautiful Fall we have been having?
  • Are you looking to do whatever you can to stay healthy as cold and flu season arrives?

If so, this may be a helpful article for you.

Many people have been coming in to be treated for colds and allergies.  This is the time of year for it. It is also a very important time to be treated correctly.  This means ridding the body of the pathogen as opposed to pushing it down with immuno-suppressive drugs like antibiotics.  The best way to stay healthy is to be proactive and preventative by bolstering your immunity. In this article, I want to share with you the Chinese Medicine perspective on immune health and specific things you can do to support it.

The goal of acupuncture is to keep the body in balance. Specifically, we look at the balance between different types of Qi (pronounced “CHEE”), or energy. Three types of Qi need to be strong.  The Wei Qi, The Ying Qi, and the Yuan Qi. The Wei Qi is like our invisible suit of armor. It protects us from the elements(i.e. wind, cold, rain).  The Ying Qi is our nutritive Qi. In other words, the Qi that is derived from what we eat and what we drink. Lastly, the Yuan Qi, which helps everything circulate through our bodies.  This is held in the Kidneys.

I often say that good health does not mean you never get sick.  It means that you don’t stay sick. This is an essential point.  All three types of Qi are needed to support proper immune function.  The Wei Qi (the invisible suit of armor) will help keep pathogens out of the body.  However, this acts in waves. So, even when the Wei Qi is strong, it is still very possible for a pathogen to enter the body.  This is why having a strong Ying and Yuan Qi (nourishing and circulating energies) are equally important. They are extra defenses.  Healthy Ying and Yuan Qi promote strong digestive, lymph, and circulatory function. When these systems are also in balance, the body is able to handle pathogens once the get in.  

Tips for a healthy immune system:

    • Eat seasonally – Lots of fresh vegetables
    • Reduce sugar – This is for any season but especially Fall where we are trying to avoid lung and sinus infections.  Infection occurs when heat congeals excess phlegm and sugar causes excess phlegm.
    • Add more garlic – Garlic has great antiviral properties
    • Add more ginger – Ginger has great antihistamine properties in addition to the invaluable digestive benefits.
    • Increase your low impact exercise – Take a walk everyday will help build your Wei Qi.  A 30 minute walk after dinner is actually part of the asian food pyramid.
    • Have fun – Depression is a huge immune-suppressor.  So, be sure to get out as much as you physically can and enjoy the Fall festivals and your fellow human beings.
    • Dress for the season – I know, every once in a while we get a warm day and we all want to wear our summer clothes just one more time.  It is Fall though and we need to understand that our bodies need to be covered. Clothes are kind of like Wei Qi. Make sure your wrists, ankles, and back of your neck are covered even lightly to avoid “Wind invasion”.
    • Get more rest – As I state in my article Fall and Your Health, the Fall is a time to reap the benefits of what we have been working on this year.  So, try to add some more rest to your day.

 

  • Get Regular Acupuncture. Consistent treatment promotes balance and flow of Qi in your body and helps ensure systems are strong when you need them to be. Also, it gives you a great excuse to come in and take an acu-nap. 

 

You will thank yourself this winter if you take preventative measures now.  I would suggest coming in at least once every other week for preventative maintenance from now through the winter. We also have several herbal formulas that will be very helpful for prevention and acute symptoms like sinus infections, cough and sore throat, chest congestion, etc.  If you do get sick, acupuncture can help speed the healing process. However, when the energy is in balance beforehand, you’ll likely get better even faster!

Please book your next appointment now! 

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you soon.