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Immune System Support

We all know that washing our hands, wearing a mask, and maintaining recommended social distancing guidelines are important ways we can keep ourselves safe from the Corona Virus.  There are other guidelines that are being recommended by medical professionals that can also be critically important in helping our immune systems function optimally to mitigate the impact of exposure to Covid-19 virus.

Oriental Medicine

Oriental Medicine’s approach is similar to Western Medicine’s approach in some ways.  They both encourage patients to eat a healthy diet and to get regular exercise.  The healthier the other systems in the body are, the more effective the immune system will be in the innate (non-specific first line defense of foreign pathogens entering the body) and the adaptive (stronger, immunologic memory antigen producing) responses.  Improving the circulation of Qi (life supporting energy) and blood supports all the systems in the body.  The Immune System resides in the Qi and blood and benefits directly from the increased circulation.  The combination of Acupuncture and Herbs has been used for thousands of years to help people live happier, healthier lives by improving the circulation of blood and lymph and restoring balance in all systems in the body and aspects of our being.  Outcomes in China for patients who received both Western and Chinese Medicine were much improved over those who received only Western Medicine treatment.

Most of us have heard about the immune system and its necessity in the prevention of sickness as well as fighting off viruses and bacteria, but what is the immune system exactly?  It is not an organ or pathway but rather a collection of various cells which act to protect the body from foreign invaders such as microbes, bacteria, particles, and toxic compounds.  It is composed of two major categories of cells which are the innate immune response (phagocytes, NK cells, granulocytes, and physical barriers) and the adaptive immune response (T and B lymphocytes, which are produced in the bone. marrow and lymphatic system).  The innate immune response is the first line of defense and is a non-specific defense mechanism, which means that it does not necessarily recognize the specific foreign invader, but will just recognize that it is foreign.   Once recognized, the innate response will kill or remove the invader through different mechanisms.  If the invader is not removed through this mechanism, the stronger immune system (adaptive) will act to remove it by activating the T and B lymphocytes.  Once activated, these cells will work to recognize the specific binding sites of the invader to produce antibodies which will disarm the invader.  The adaptive immune response is often called the immunological memory, as once the body has created the necessary antibodies to fight an invader, it can easily do so again if the body is attacked by the same strain.  This is also the reasoning behind vaccinations.

How Do You Boost The Immune System?

Boosting the immune system refers to allowing the immune system cells to readily do their job.  If the body is perfectly healthy and functioning, this will be much easier.  If the body is taxed by stresses, illnesses, or malnutrition, it will be harder.  Thus, in Chinese medicine, the focus is not always on strengthening the immune system specifically, but rather the whole body to allow the immune system to function optimally.  Since the immune system resides in the blood and lymphatic system, proper circulation of these systems is essential to good health and must be promoted.

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine Boost the Immune System?

First and foremost, proper diet and exercise need to be in place in order to obtain the most beneficial results.  Having successfully accomplished that, here are some amazing herbs and acupuncture/acupressure points to boost the entire body and immune system.  However, the key to gaining results through the herbs is by finding the proper herb(s) to match your body or constitution.  The herbs are typically not generically use but must be prescribed according to the individual. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses the insertion of fine needles into acupoints which are used in combinations that support the body, improve circulation of blood and Qi (energy), and correct imbalances in the body.  This stimulates optimal blood, lymph, endocrine and immune systems to function optimally.  Some of the key points for the immune system also improve digestion, mental functions, circulation, respiration, and many others.

You already Know Most of the Following Information.  This is not new news for most of you.  You just need help implementing these changes.
Research indicates there are many beneficial steps you can take to improve immune system function.  How to Boost Your Immune System During the Covid-19 Pandemic

How can you make the needed changes in your lifestyle and dietary choices?  What should be your priority when deciding where to start?  These decisions should be based on your unique personality, personal and medical history, physical characteristics, diet, emotional relationships, likes and dis-likes, attitudes and belief systems.  Get help finding ways to make these healthy changes become a routine part of your life.

Nutrition

Eat the good stuff.  10 foods clinically proven to reduce inflammation

  • Look for bright colors.  If it is a pretty color and has a skin instead of a wrapper, it probably has extra vitamins and nutrients to help your immune system function optimally.  Think berries, dark greens, zucchini, broccoli, beets, red and purple are always good.
  • Strong smells -  think garlic, onions, and :-) beans (yes, beans!).  The onion and garlic family contains compounds which help benefit  Immune System function and beans contain fiber that promotes gut health.
  • Squishy slimy chewy – think mushrooms.  Cooked mushrooms have been studied for their immune modulating and enhancing abilities and as a potential treatment for cancer.
  • Seeds and Nuts – If they’re good enough for birds and squirrels, they’re good enough for us.  High in fiber, healthy Omega 3 fats, and micronutrients zinc, iron, and calcium all support Immune System.
  • Vitamins – A, C, D, E, B are all important as well as folate and selenium.  These are all found in the foods listed above, but it is difficult to consume the therapeutic doses needed without supplementation.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods and highly processed foods  - Reducing consumption of inflammatory foods like processed saturated fats and vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates and sugars can mitigate oxidative stress and reduce the triggering of inflammation.  Diets high in refined carbohydrates, animal-based proteins, and fats are important to highlight here because they may contribute to the long-term consequences of inflammation. Feeding your body what it needs can keep it strong and functioning optimally.  Consuming the following foods can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress: berries, fish, nuts, yogurt, red wine, some spices, legumes, olives, olive oil, and dark chocolate.  Check Out: 10 foods clinically proven to reduce inflammation

We know this, so why do we continue to eat foods that are not good for us or avoid the ones that are?

One size does not fit all.  Personalities, personal and medical histories, diet, and emotional issues can all contribute to explaining poor choices, cravings, and just being too overwhelmed to formulate a step by step plan to get you where you want to be.  Sometimes we need help.  Check Out: A cure for craving fatty foods

Do I need to take supplements or herbs?
If your diet is deficient, it is a good idea to supplement.  If you eat out of boxes vs fresh food choices, it’s a good idea. Eating fresh, nutrient foods is very difficult during certain times of the year.  Organic food is best but it can be expensive. If you are highly stressed, (who isn’t?), your body consumes higher levels of vitamins and nutrients than when you are not under as much stress, so supplementation can help. 
Oriental Medicine and Western herbs have been reported to help improve Immune system function as well.  Herbal medicine has been a big part of the prevention and treatment for Covid -19 in China.

Other Lifestyle Guidelines

Manage your Stress

Unhealthy Stress reactions show up in so many ways.  Headaches, body aches and pain, bladder or colon irritability, insomnia, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, immune deficiency, emotional irritability and vulnerability, anxiety, depression, anger, memory problems, and foggy thinking have all been recognized as possible stress related symptoms and conditions created by or exacerbated by higher levels of stress.  Read More: Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function

We all have different types of stress response and we all respond to different types of stress relievers. Explore some possibilities: https://mountainside.com/blog/mental-health/de-stress-based-on-your-myers-briggs-personality.   Activities like reading, exercising, journaling, sewing, working on your car, doing yardwork, meditating or watching TV may work for some but not for others.  HeartMath provides a home biofeedback tool that has been very helpful for thousands of people suffering from unhealthy stress reactions.  It teaches you to retrain your body’s unhealthy response to stress, which is usually automatic and hard to change without help.  Old habits die hard.

For more information call InnerWorks at (316) 946-0990 or Contact Us online.