Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of natural therapies is their ability to optimize immune function and prevent illness and disease. In particular, Chinese and naturopathic medicine have a tremendous arsenal of natural remedies that can effectively heighten immunity and greatly reduce the chance of serious pathology from occurring. Immune weakness is certainly a ubiquitous concern in the modern world, as cancer, AIDS, autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, etc.), and pandemics such as the Avian bird flu constitute major health hazards for the global population. Although Western medicine can be miraculous in its ability to save lives, it is notably vacuous in its repertoire of natural agents to bolster immunity and balance one’s physiology. Therefore, it is imperative that the health benefits of natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, nutritional supplements, and dietary strategies be made available to as many people as possible. Let’s examine the main approaches of each of these therapies.
Practiced for over 2,500 years in various Asian cultures, acupuncture has finally made its way to the Western world. In acupuncture clinical practice, many patients have sought treatment for weak immunity. A typical pattern includes frequent colds and flus, recurring sinus infections, fatigue, stress, and insomnia. For this constellation of symptoms, acupuncture can be an effective way to break the cycle of chronic vulnerability to the elements. Acupuncture works by regulating the flow of Qi (life force) through 14 major meridians on the body. Immune weakness is typically due to deficient Qi of the lungs and spleen. When these organs are weak, symptoms such as allergies, diarrhea, fatigue, cough, and recurring infections are commonplace. For these issues, acupuncture points are chosen on the lung and spleen meridians to supplement the Qi, thereby strengthening immune function.
Moxibustion is also a powerful tool in the acupuncture repertoire. Moxibustion is a heat therapy that involves the use of mugwort, an herb that is applied topically on acupuncture points. Moxibustion has been shown in studies to increase white blood cell count in chemotherapy patients and other cases of immune weakness. For patients with recurring infections and colds, moxibustion is an excellent technique for naturally bolstering immunity.
There are many herbal formulas that strengthen immunity. I highly recommend for anyone to consult with a Chinese Medicine practitioner to get a proper diagnosis and the correct prescription.
The food we eat is one of the most important determinants in not only our immune function, but our overall health. Many people have weak immune systems because they are eating processed, refined, and rich diets that are devoid of the essential nutrients that the body needs for optimal health. Here are a few simple steps you can take right now to greatly strengthen immunity:
- Start eating organic foods
- Drink 6-9 glasses filtered water daily
- Drink green tea instead of coffee
- Reduce intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates
- Eat 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables
- Minimize pasteurized dairy
- Eat a diet rich in essential fats and low in transfats and saturated fats
- Supplements such as zinc, vitamin C and green tea extract can be helpful adjuncts to ward off illness.
HEALING THE STRESS RESPONSE
Stress can be a major cause of immune weakness. Many studies from the field of psychoneuroimmunology have clearly demonstrated the link between stress and immunity. Along with acupuncture and herbs, two of the most powerful practices you can undertake for overcoming chronic stress are yoga and meditation. I recommend practicing each about 1/2 hour per day. This can profoundly heighten your quality of life and health.