With the colder weather well and truly here, now is an important time to take some extra measures to ensure you don’t fall ill throughout the winter. Follow these top Traditional Chinese Medicine tips to keep your immune system strong and fight off the dreaded symptoms of cold and flu.
The immune-boosting benefits of Chinese herbal medicine are widely acknowledged, so much so that many Western practitioners are also advocating them to their patients too. Some of the top choices to stock up on as we head into winter are echinacea (antiviral and antibacterial herb), ginger (a powerful antihistamine and decongestant) and yin chiao (a nine-herb formula, which soothes the lungs and stomach and clears the nasal passages).
We all know that our bodies can have an adverse reaction to changes in the weather, but did you know that acupuncture can help? Among its many benefits, acupuncture can help your body find balance after experiencing changes in the environment, so with every changing of the seasons, it’s a good idea to book a session with a trusted acupuncturist.
A large part of the reason we fall ill in the first place is due to our body’s inability to fight off the germs and toxins we encounter in our external environment. Cupping therapy promotes healing and can help draw out toxins. In turn, this allows us to recover much faster and can dramatically shorten the length of time we spend feeling unwell.
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, feeling fatigued, run-down or being prone to colds and flus is likely to be due to an imbalance in the “Qi” – the body’s circulating life force. It is believed that many people suffer from an imbalance in their “Defensive Qi”, causing a lack of resistance to illness due to a weakened immune system. Imbalances of the Defensive Qi are often caused by stress, illness or malnutrition.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the focus is not so much strengthening the immune system specifically, but targeting the body as a whole to encourage the immune system to function at its best.
In order to boost your immune system and maintain optimal health and wellbeing, individuals should implement the following strategies and tips where possible.
Chinese herbs have been proven to contain immunity-enhancing effects. Adaptogenic herbs are believed to be the best, as these plants will react to your body. For example, if your immune system is reacting too strongly, these herbs will restore balance. Conversely, if your immune system has been weakened, adaptogenic herbs will provide strength. Some of the most powerful adaptogenic herbs are believed to be Ginseng, Astragalus and Amachazuru.
As many people know, stress hormones will suppress the immune system and put extra pressure on the human body. When the immune system is weakened, an individual is more likely to suffer from ailments such as the common cold, flu and other viruses. Additionally, when the body’s immune system is weakened, it will take significantly longer to recover from sicknesses.
In order to destress, you should look towards the things you find to be calming – perhaps exercise, meditation, mindfulness, massage or acupuncture. Acupuncture is believed to beneficial towards alleviating stress as it works to correct imbalances within the body, essentially “re-training” the body to function in a more optimal manner. Some people may also find it calming to partake in Traditional Chinese practices such as cupping or scrubbing.
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining your health. Sleep deprivation has been proven to lower the production of critical antibodies needed to fight infection. When you are lacking a regular, high-quality sleeping pattern, the chemicals produced by your immune system that are designed to fight infection and illness will be significantly weakened.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation (this is considered to be less than seven hours per night) will triple one’s chances of becoming sick with a common cold or flu virus. By allowing yourself adequate rest and practicing regular sleep patterns, you will improve not only your energy levels and emotional mindset, but you will significantly increase your immune function and overall health.