Immunity in the Colder Seasons
As we move into the colder seasons, many of you might be wondering, “how can I keep from contracting colds and flus...and of course, the dreaded Coronavirus?”
In this particular moment as we are weathering a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to strengthen your immune system. When looking to build your immunity it is critical to consider various aspects of health. In Chinese Medicine, we refer to this immunity as the Upright Qi or Zheng Qi. When the Upright Qi is strong, the immunity is strong and there is health. Here is what I consider to be the most important considerations for immunity.
This would include a healthy nourishing diet, movement practices including anything from walking and dancing to martial arts, yoga and strength training, as well as what is commonly termed as “stress management”. Residing in a chronic state of fight or flight where your nervous system is fraught will elevate cortisol levels. This will reduce the strength of your immune system’s ability to fight off bacterial and viral infections by lowering the effectiveness of the white blood cells that do the hard work of protecting your body.
There are many ways that you can improve your relationship to the pressures in your life including getting the support of a therapist, acupuncture for stress relief, a regular meditation practice, journaling, dancing, walking and hiking while communing with nature - Forest! Ocean! These are wonderful medicine for the nervous system that supports high vibration. And don’t forget to get enough sleep. If you are struggling with insomnia, please book an appointment.
The GI tract is the foundation of a healthy immune system. In Chinese Medicine, a weakened immune system is a response to a deficiency in the Taiyin system of the Lung and Spleen, the Spleen is considered that major digestive organ. To keep this aspect of your body healthy and strong, what you are regularly eating is paramount. Your diet should consist of a rainbowed plethora of organic vegetables (cooked is best in the colder months) and if you tolerate it some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and legumes, along with small portions of pastured organic meats and nuts and seeds. (Notice I’m not mentioning what you should minimize, or just completely stay away from...but if it helps to hear it…, sugars, simple processed carbohydrates and any processed foods will make this list).
Couple your whole foods with prebiotics and probiotics and lots of fermented foods and you are moving towards optimal living in the gut realm. I prefer Klaire Labs brand options, including the full spectrum Therbiotic probiotics and Biotagen prebiotics and have these products available at the clinic for your convenience. If you are working these angles and still have digestive disturbances, I recommend making an appointment so we can see how to support your digestive biosphere for optimal functioning. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are wonderful ways to build your gut health and relieve yourself of digestive symptoms like cramping, gas, bloating, loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn.
Garlic, leeks, onion and ginger will warm your yang qi to strengthen your immune system in these colder months. Cook your meals with them and focus on cooked foods -soups, stews and roasts in particular during these colder months. The shiitake mushroom has been shown in research to improve immunity when consumed daily. These magical mushrooms are always in my shopping cart, and I add them to nearly every soup and roast I make!
There are some simple supplements that you can take regularly right now to support your immune system during these coming months. My favorite is mushrooms! I am regularly taking the Klaire Labs Immunomax, a Mushroom Immune Support Formula with Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Reishi and I carry it here in the clinic for you.
I also have a tincture called Cold Tender from Earth Tide Botanicals which I absolutely love. Whenever I feel like I need an immune boost, I take a few droppers full. It is a blend of stinging nettle, echinacea, yarrow, calendula and spilanthes and is awesome to have on hand when you start to feel a little run down or a tickle in the throat.
Supplementing with Vitamins C, D, and Zinc can go far towards building your immune strength and in particular have been acknowledged to boost immunity for warding off the Coronavirus. I do have these vitamins here at the clinic so next time you are in you can bring home a bottle of them if you are in need. I always recommended buffered C as it is easier on the stomach, and a micellized Vit D to increase absorption.
Chinese Herbs for Immunity
Depending on your particular constitutional needs, Chinese herbs may be indicated to create the internal balance needed to strengthen your immunity, and this can be thoroughly assessed during your next appointment. However, there is one Chinese herb that is useful on its own to strengthen your immune system.
There is evidence that Astragalus Root, known to Chinese herbalists as Huang Qi, bolsters white blood cell production to help fight off viral and bacterial infections. This is another herb I use regularly in my cooking. I use the sliced dried herb and add a few pieces to any grains, legumes, soups or stews that I cook for my family. I have this herb in bulk at the clinic available for you.
If you feel that you are coming down with an illness, I encourage you to call or email the clinic and I will be able to do an herbal consult over the phone and get you the correct formula for your symptoms. Typically, you would come in and also get a treatment. Since we are all being more careful with COVID-19 precautions I ask that if you don’t feel well, please stay home and rest and I will reschedule your appointment when your symptoms resolve.
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Chase Desso, Lac
Acupuncture Wizard, Whole Food Fanatic, Nature Lover, Subtle Body Devotee