Build Your Immune System with Acupuncture

by Leslie Smith on December 20, 2013

As the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall, so comes the emergence of cold and flu season. Recent estimates put the cost of influenza epidemics to the economy between $71 and $167 billion per year! Acupuncture, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, can help to both limit the symptoms associated with your cold or flu as well as prevent you from succumbing to illness.

The first way to protect yourself from getting sick is to understand how your immune system functions in Asian medicine.  The vital energy source of our body according to Chinese Medicine is Qi (pronounced “chee”).  Qi can take on many forms in our body.  One such form called Wei Qi, or “defensive Qi,” is similar to our immune system in Western Medicine; Wei Qi serves as a protective layer around the exterior of the body.  Acupuncture points associated with Wei Qi are known to strengthen both the circulation of blood and energy to boost your body’s inherent defense mechanism.   Symptoms of Wei Qi deficiency include high susceptibility to infection, low energy, and delayed recovery from illness.  To boost your Wei Qi, drink lots of fluids.  If you are on the verge of getting sick and feel very chilly, use spices such as garlic, cinnamon, green onions, chili and onion to warm you up and induce a sweat. If you are feeling feverish, use eggplant, green tea, watermelon, and chamomile to help cool you down.

Build your immune system

Dr. Smith demonstrating the anatomical location of Lung 7

Another form of Qi to consider is Lung Qi.   Damage can easily occur to the Lung channel as it is in direct contact with the external environment, making it highly vulnerable to attacks by microscopic invaders.  A great way to protect your Lung Qi is by stimulating Lung 7 (LU 7).  As the “command point of the head and posterior neck,” LU 7 is one of the most powerful acupuncture points on the Lung meridian.  It is particularly useful in stopping a cough and relieving a sore throat.  This point is about 2 inches below the base of your thumb and will often be achy to touch.  Use your index finger to stimulate this point on both wrists at the first signs of sickness.

Another great way to preserve your Qi, in particular your Yin Qi, is by getting extra sleep.  Sleep is restorative to the immune system and, therefore, helps protect the body from foreign pathogens.  The Yin time of day is from sunset to sunrise.  Yin activities include resting and digestion:  similar to the activities of the parasympathetic nervous system.  It is therefore optimal to rest and digest in the evening hours at night.  When you feel the early signs of getting sick, resting (restoring your Yin) is one of the best ways to fight off a cold or flu.

As a physician and an acupuncturist, I strive to create treatment plans catered to your individual needs at each appointment, using my understanding of both Western and Eastern Medicine.  If you’re feeling under the weather or just looking to stay as healthy as possible this winter, feel free to call the office today!  I am here to help you.

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