5 Ways to Support Your Immune System with Chinese Medicine during COVID
We are learning, in this time of COVID, that none of us are completely immune to this fast mutating virus (unless perhaps we have recovered from it). However, we do know that reducing our exposure by staying home and reducing contact with groups of people and following CDC and WHO recommendations with the use of masks, hand washing, use of sanitizers etc. we can reduce our risk of contracting the virus or unwittingly spreading it.
How do we support our immune system to minimize the risk? The COVID virus needs a host and the host is human. The healthier you are, the stronger your immune system, the better your chances of staying healthy. If your underlying health is poor or you have underlying health conditions and challenges the more impact this virus can have.
Even though we cannot be in the treatment room together for acupuncture at this time I am sharing some things you can do for yourself (and your loved ones) to help support your immune system.
The 2,500 year old practice of Chinese medicine (which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, bodywork, exercise and qi gong) emphasizes health and preserving health.
Here are 5 simple things you can do at home to support your immune system:
1. Apply Acupressure to a Vitality Acupuncture Point:
Acupressure is an effective bodywork technique that utilizes the same meridians and acupuncture points I use in an acupuncture treatment. And, you can do it for yourself! The idea is to stimulate the flow of Qi ( Yang) and Blood (Yin) along the channel to stimulate a physical response. St 36, below, is an effective point for protecting our immune system and our vitality.
Stomach 36 – 3 Leg Mile is located a hands length below the knee just between the 2 leg bones (the tibia and fibula). Feel around to where you may feel some tenderness when you apply pressure. Rub vigorously, apply gentle pressure or tap with your fingers at this point 2-3 times per day to support your immune system, increase internal vitality. It is a good point to do daily or when you are feeling rundown.
2. Utilize Herbal Medicine for Immune Support
Herbal medicine is usually best when prescribed per your individual case and condition as Chinese medicine is not a one size fits all medicine. It is personalized and powerful. The use of herbal medicine in China with COVID cases has shown to be of benefit. But, let’s support you before you get sick. Call to schedule your herbal consult for the best preventative formula for you.
3. Adopt Food as Your Medicine
We eat each and everyday and there is probably no more powerful medicine than the food we eat. Eating a balanced diet is key to immunity. In Chinese medicine healthy Wei Qi (protective qi), which resides at the body’s surface between the skin and muscles, is vital to helping us to ward off viruses and other pathogens. Support your digestive system by eating foods that are nourishing and easy to digest. Soups, congee, lightly cooked plant based meals are good when you are feeling sick or recovering.
- Some foods that benefit the immune system. Have these on hand to add to your cooking:
- Mushrooms – shiitake, oyster, cremini, button, maitake are all delicious, add umami (rich flavor) to a soup or dish and can be roasted or sauteed on their own for a delicious immune boosting dish.
- Chicken or fish stock will boost your Qi when you are feeling susceptible. Add in some ginger, leeks, carrots and fresh parsley or scallion for a delicous immune boosting broth.
- Whole grain rice and quinoa – to nourish your stomach and spleen qi.
- Dark leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, bok choy, escarole, chard, collard greens, dandelion greens all are restorative and benefits elimination function and clears out stagnation in the body.
- Use your spice cabinet: your kitchen medicine cabinet. Many herbs and spices you may have on hand will enliven the flavor of dishes and deliver medicinal impact to your meals. Here are a few ideas of what to keep on hand and how they can be utilized:
- Cinnamon – is warming and is beneficial when you may have chills or feel cold.Add it into cooked grains, fruits, teas, even long cooked stews.
- Fresh Ginger – is warming, calms nausea and helps digestion. It is a natural anti-inflammatory herb and help dispel pathogens at the beginning of a cold. Cut some up and put in your tea or cook with it.
- Thyme – relieves indigestion, benefits the lungs and clears the mind. It is often made into a digestive tea in Europe. Create a steam inhalation to clear the lungs.
4. Walk, move, stretch
We all know how important regular exercise is to our health and our sanity.
Whatever you can do, do it. Walk, dance, ride your bike, jog gently, do yoga, tai chi, qi gong to move your Qi, stretch your meridians, release stress, stimulate endorphins and build strength. Even 20 minutes per day makes the difference.
And, while you are at it practice deep breathing. Breathing in for the count of 4, holding it for 4 and releasing it to the count of 4. You will feel so much better!
5. Tend to your sleep and your energy
There is no day without night, activity without rest. At night our brain restores itself. We need good quality sleep to function well. Clinical studies have shown the importance of good sleep to immune function and recovery from illness.
If you are having trouble falling asleep try disconnecting from all electronics an hour before going to bed, have a cup of calming herbal tea, put your feet into a hot bath to pull all the energy from the head down into the body where it needs to be to relax and rest.
If you wake at the magic hour around 3am you may benefit from an herbal prescription or natural supplement: Set up a quick consult for recommendations. If you are recovering from feeling ill take that quick nap, you need it.
Here to help:
Of course, I am here to support your health in any way you may need. Please give me a call to set up a consult or ask a question about how you can support your immune system during the time of COVID.
Ellen Goldsmith, L.Ac., Dip. C.H.
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