Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter
Daylight Saving Time just occurred this week on the East coast, which means the days are getting shorter and the cold weather is approaching making it easier for us to catch colds, viruses, and other related illnesses that prosper in cold climates. Did you know that you can boost your immune system by taking advantage of various Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modalities? Check out the following proven TCM methods that have been used for thousands of years around the world.
Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese self-healing practice that enhances your overall physical, mental, and spiritual well being. There are many forms of Qi Gong exercises that are meant for various purposes, many of which are immune boosting. Ba Duan Jin/Eight Brocade is a simple yet effective exercise composed of eight movements that are each designed to balance a certain part of the body. For example, the movement called “separate heaven and Earth” helps stimulate and balance the stomach and digestive tract. A systematic review done in 2017, concluded that Qi Gong provides results of being beneficial for promoting restful sleep, balancing blood pressure, and quality of life. There seems to be a lot of supporting evidence stating that completing this exercise daily contributes towards a boost to your overall immune health. You can check out the article in the references section below and give it a try yourself!
There are some single Chinese herbs that can be used on their own and also more commonly formulas (containing about 5-6 herbs) that have been used for thousands of years to tonify your “defensive qi” commonly referred to as “wei qi” in TCM, which protects the body from foreign toxins/invaders (i.e. flu, viruses). The great thing about herbs is that they can be prepared and consumed in a few different ways. For instance, if you are not comfortable with drinking tinctures – then instead you can take herbs in capsule, teapill (small round ball like pills), granule, or raw forms. Some of these herbs and formulas include:
- Single herbs
- Astragalus (huang qi) – strengthens the lungs and wei qi
- Cordyceps (dong chong xia cao) – improves overall bodily constitution
- Herbal formulas
- Yin Qiao San – treats acute respiratory symptoms and should only be taken at the onset of symptoms (i.e. fever, sore throat)
- Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Wind Screen) – a great preventative formula and treats respiratory symptoms amongst many others
One of the most popular things acupuncture is known to treat includes immune system tonification. Many people start feeling under the weather as the seasons change. This is the time when you can go to your local acupuncturist to get a “seasonal tune up” to tonify your “defensive qi”, which helps safeguard your body against the pesky cold weather ailments. There are many acupuncture points that are commonly included in point combinations acupuncturists use to help boost the immune system. Some points include:
- ST 36 – overall immune health
- LI 11 – overall immune health
- LI 4 – headaches, various cold and flu symptoms, overall immune health
If you are already experiencing symptoms – don’t worry, we have points for them too! See below for points that are used for various symptoms:
- LU 7 – cough, sore throat, fever, and chills
- LU10 – sore throat
- LI 20 – nasal congestion
These are just a few helpful things to keep in mind as we enter the cold winter months. Discussing these methods at your next telehealth or in person acupuncture session may be a good idea to see how you can better protect yourself this winter. Please remember that although TCM is extremely effective, it is very important to be under the care of a licensed practitioner to ensure that you are being properly treated. Stay safe, warm, and well!
Chen, John PhD, OMD, LAC. (2000). Herbs for Boosting the Immune System. Acupuncture Today. Retrieved on October 29, 2020. https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27622
Zou, Liye. (2017). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. Retrieved on October 29, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359459/#:~:text=The%20aggregated%20results%20from%20this%20systematic%20review%20show%20that%20Baduanjin,pressure%2C%20and%20resting%20heart%20rate.