Traditional Chinese Medicine For Immunity
In this article, we explore the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine for immunity.
In these uncertain times, boosting your immunity and protecting yourself from external pathogens are more important than ever. While no one is completely immune to illness and diseases, proper health care practices could drastically reduce your chances of falling ill or experiencing other common ailments like fever, headaches, nausea, cough and colds. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers various ways to strengthen your immune system, including but not limited to herbs, supplements and acupuncture. These treatments can complement efforts to naturally boost your immunity through healthy living habits. In this article, we seek to explore the perspective of TCM on immunity, how it can help to improve your body’s defense system against illness and diseases and what you can do to optimize the benefits of TCM.
Causes of Weak Immune System
A weak immune system can be caused by many different factors such as:
- Poor nutrition and stressful lifestyle.
- Pre-existing conditions like diabetes that compromise the immune system.
- Lack of exposure to common pathogens.
All these cause the body’s defenses against harmful external pathogens such as bacteria and viruses to be weakened, making it less able to fight off the invaders. This causes the immune system to be overwhelmed by the external pathogens, leading to disease and illness.
TCM Philosophy On Immunity
In TCM philosophy, your immunity is influenced by your Qi, or overall vitality. Specifically, immunity depends on a form of Qi known as “Zheng Qi”, which means “upright” Qi in Chinese. Zheng Qi is a manifestation of your immune system in TCM and protects you from external invaders such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses, closely related to what has been defined by the Western medicine.
Hence, according to TCM, maintaining the strength of your Zheng Qi is the key to boosting your immunity. Illness occurs when external factors such as wind, cold, damp and heat overpower your Zheng Qi and destroy the internal equilibrium and harmony in your body. Therefore, by restoring this internal balance, it will help to restore your immune system and health.
TCM Treatments for Boosting Immunity
If you are suffering from a weak immune system currently, there are few different treatment methods that TCM can offer to help you strengthen it. Although the methods may differ from one to another, the objective and end-result remain the same which is restoring the balance of Zheng Qi in order to regain immunity. The choice of treatment that work best for you depends on the advice of your trusted TCM practitioner.
Some of these treatments include:
Herbs and Supplements
This is one of the simplest ways to strengthen your immunity using TCM, as the herbs can be consumed in a variety of forms. For example, you can brew them together in a tasty soup, take them orally in pill form or use them to make tea. Either way, you can enjoy the full health benefits of the herbs. A variety of herbs also exist as Chinese medicine for flu.
Some herbs that are widely said to be beneficial for boosting immunity in TCM are astragalus root, lingzhi and ginseng. However, like everything else, they should also be taken in moderation. Due to the action of these herbs in helping to stimulate the immune system, they are not recommended to be consumed by those who are severely immunocompromised.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest therapies in TCM and is backed by thousands of years of Chinese medical theory and practices. In acupuncture, needles are inserted at specific points along the meridian system (the distribution network that allows qi to flow throughout the body). This stimulates the flow of qi, if it has been disrupted, and allows the patient to regain the internal equilibrium in their body, thus boosting their overall immunity.
How to Complement TCM Treatments to Boost Immunity
To maximise the benefits of TCM, there are a few things you can do to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Here’s how you can strengthen your immune system naturally, and protect yourself from common illnesses:
Getting Enough Sleep
A proper work-rest balance is important for your body to recharge and maintain internal harmony. Sleeping for at least 8 hours a night can do wonders for your health, and it can boost your immunity by allowing your body to recuperate and recharge regularly. It can also help to lower stress level and reduce pressure on the immune system. Although getting the full 8 hours of rest can be quite difficult to achieve since there are only limited number of hours in a day, you should strive to get adequate sleep as much as possible. Do not forget to adjust and practise good sleeping habits to make sure your body gets ample of quality rest.
If you are feeling restless, agitated or moody, it is time to take a break and understand the source of your stress. Exercise and acupuncture can help to relieve stress, as they stimulate the body to release endorphin hormones which have a positive relaxing effect on your body. Taking Chinese herbs which confer calming effect such as Huaqishen, Lingzhi, Baihe and Fuling can also be beneficial.
Both Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners agree that exercise plays a huge and important role in strengthening your immune system. In TCM, moderate regular exercise helps in the smooth flow of Qi and promote healthy blood circulation in the body, which helps to improve your immunity. Sharing the same concept as having enough sleep, exercise can help to relieve stress and increase your overall physical well-being. Chinese Qigong and Tai-Chi, believed to help in reinforcing Qi in your body, are forms of medical exercise that is regularly recommended by TCM practitioners.
Following a healthy diet
Apart from taking TCM herbs and supplements, the importance of having healthy and nutritious meal at regular interval should not be neglected. Generally, this means putting more fruits, vegetable and proteins on your plate. However, you should also be careful on the method of preparation. In TCM, eating raw vegetables and fruits excessively can cause your body to fall out of its equilibrium state, so you should only eat them in moderation. Other than that, eating too much of chilled, sweet or greasy, food may lead to stagnation of your energy flow, the Qi. This stagnation will in turn cause discomforts and pain in your digestive system or more severe imbalance in your body. As the saying goes “a good digestive system can help keep common illnesses at bay”.
Maintaining good personal hygiene
Last but not least, maintaining a good personal hygiene can help to reduce your risk of coming into contact with harmful external pathogens. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap. Avoid touching random surfaces and avoid touching your face constantly. You should also wear a mask to protect yourself from people who are sick around you. This will help to reduce the risk of catching diseases or contracting illnesses that may take a long time to recover from.
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