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The Immune System in Chinese Medicine


The Immune System in Chinese Medicine, Atha Wellness in Kirkland, WA

"Our immune system works like a protective shield, keeping the things that can harm us like cold, excessive heat, wind and illness away."

This protective shield, part of our outer defense mechanism, is called the Wei Qi in Chinese Medicine.  The Wei Qi is a product of many things, for instance, our genetic inheritance from our parents, and our lifestyle habits including what we eat and drink,  how stressed out we are, how much sleep (or how little!)  and exercise we get.  

To maintain a healthy outer protective layer,  or Wei Qi, we then need to pay attention to the things that we can control, namely our diet, our sleep, how much exercise we get, and our stress levels . In TCM we like to suggest that foods that are in season should be the first on our shopping list.  Look for winter foods such as, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and pears.  Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibiotic properties, if you like garlic you can work this into any meal. Ginger, a powerful antihistamine and decongestant offers a great solution against cold symptoms. Cut some fresh root up and it to your dishes or boil it to make a cup of ginger tea with some added lemon and honey (and maybe that pear!) for a pleasant and healing hot drink. A blend of mushrooms, like shiitake, reishi, and maitake are great for strengthening the immune system, as well.  Pear is lovely for coughs as they protect the lungs,  Consider making a pear smoothie with pears, almond milk, almonds, black pepper, cinnamon and honey.   

Remember that it's not just what we eat, but how we eat and who we share our food with as well, that will affect how we digest our food not just from a nutritional perspective but also from an emotional one. Happy people have a strong Wei Qi.  And on that note, mediation and acupuncture are wonderful ways to cancel out the stressors of day to day life, and to create relaxation and ease.  

Our Wei Qi also remains strong if we do some exercise; consider a nice brisk walk in fresh air, especially if you're crunched for time. This is good enough to open up our lungs feed it with oxygen which in turn will liven up a healthy circulation and blood system.  Additionally, exercise is also used for stress reduction, as is getting outside in nature.  Remember though, if it's cold, windy and rainy to wear appropriate gear.

Finally, sleep is important for keeping our immune systems strong.  Make sure you are getting enough high quality sleep, free from distractions. Turn off cell phones, computers and TVs well in advance of going to bed to allow the mind to prepare for sleep.  Sleep meditations from an app like 10% Happier can help you drift off calm and relaxed.  If insomnia is an issue for you, consider herbal medicine or acupuncture to help you get a good night's sleep.  

Kirkland, Wa