How to boost your immune system using Chinese medicine

Learn how you can combine Chinese medicine and various rituals to give your immune system a much-needed boost in the winter months.

The immune system is our body’s defence system, protecting us from external threats like harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins – as well as internal hazards such as rogue cells and free radicals. All of which are very prominent in the winter months here in the UK.

So how does our immune system work? And how can Chinese medicine help prevent you from illness this year?

Everything you need to know about our immune system and Chinese medicine

Our immune system comprises two main parts. The first is innate immunity. This protects you against outside threats via protective barriers like mucus and stomach acid. The second is our adaptive immune system, which constantly develops with you. Each time you are exposed to a germ or illness, your adaptive immune system keeps a record of it and helps your body build up a pre-programmed defence so it cannot make you sick in the future. This adaptive immune process is a complex system of chemicals, cells, and biological pathways. Clever or what?

According to the tenets of Chinese medicine, the human immune system has three primary centres: the thymus (where immune cells are produced), the adrenals and the spine.

Many traditional practices support the immune system with small daily measures, to naturally improve your health and increase your resistance to disease. In the words of Dr Stephen Chang, “If minor health problems do not develop, major health problems do not develop.”

There are many causes of immune deficiency in the modern world. Excess sugar, hydrogenated fats, cows milk, heavy metals, antibiotics, recreational drugs, air pollution, deficient light, stress, inflammation, shallow breathing and physical stagnation can all deplete our immune system.

Another major cause of immune deficiency is chronic stress, which goes hand in hand with chronic disease. One study found that exposure to chronic stress actually changes the activity of the genes of immune cells—making them more likely to attack the body’s own tissue and trigger an autoimmune response. As a result, this could lead to further health issues such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease or type 1 diabetes.

And to make things worse, chronic stress also creates inflammation which disrupts the workings of the immune system.

Inflammation turns into an issue when the immune system becomes faulty and triggers the inflammatory response unnecessarily. It can also happen when the immune system becomes overactive, which in turn creates more inflammation. You can learn more about it here.

The solution

Inspired by Chinese medicine, the Hayo’u Method helps to boost your immunity with simple daily rituals that are as enjoyable as they are effective.

The Chinese approach to health is that prevention is as important as cure. The theory is that if your body is in a healthy state, it is harder for illness to get a foothold in the body. So, the first step is to use the Hayo’u Method to support your body in maintaining its equilibrium.

The Hayo’u Reset Ritual has been specifically designed to support the circulatory system. One minute of shaking, drumming and twisting invigorates your circulation, stimulates digestion and most important of all – boosts immunity.

Drum your thymus gland every day. Your thymus is situated behind your breastbone, and it’s where T cells, which fight infection, are produced in the body.

Exercise reduces the impact of the stress hormones that make the body more vulnerable to colds and flu. But before we all rush to the gym, it only takes a few minutes of low-intensity exercise such as walking to trigger the release of feel-good endorphins. Anything that gently increases your circulation is going to help. Exercise does not need to be strenuous to be effective. Simple, mild exercise like qi gong or swimming relaxes your body and mind, which eases daily stress.

There is such a thing as too much exercise, especially if you’re feeling tired or unwell. If you’re in a state of exhaustion to begin with, a cardiovascular heart-pumping exercise will only deplete your energy reserves further. Plus, high-intensity workouts create stress hormones in the body – so stick to the low impact, fat burning end of the spectrum.

Along with enhancing your circulation, Gua sha is a great way to directly support your immune system. Firstly, it helps disperse toxins through increased circulation. Then as the blood is reabsorbed by the body it promotes an enzyme (HO-1) which is both anti-inflammatory and immune boosting.

Start by focussing on your chest, neck and upper back because it helps to clear lymph, moves blood and reduces inflammation – which weakens your immunity. The lymph nodes and tonsils are all in that area, so this motion keeps them clear and working at full capacity.

For more information on Chinese medicine and the Hayo’u Method, check out this page.

 


References:

(1) Chronic stress is probably the primary cause of immune deficiency in the modern world.

Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury Publishing

(2) Scientists are increasingly learning about the power of the mind to fight off illness.

Daniel Reid, The Tao of Detox, Healing Arts Press

(3) When we repress our rage and fear, our potent stress hormones quickly break down into toxic

bi-products that poison the system, suppress immunity and impede other vital functions. Under chronic stress, the body never has a chance to excrete these toxins thoroughly and restore proper balance. What often begins as stress leads to immune system disorders and presents as illness. Daniel Reid, The Tao of Detox, Healing Arts Press

Dr Cass Igram in ‘Eat Right or Die Young’ states that the “role played by stress in the causation of cancer is so great that it would not be an exaggeration to say that 80% or more cancer cases have their immediate origin in some form of mental pressure or strain.’’

Dr Cass Igram, Eat Right or Die Young: When will your biological clock stop? Instant Improvement Press

(4) But there is growing scientific belief that treating a person’s emotional state along with their physical problems makes a noticeable difference to the efficacy of treatment.

Daniel Reid, The Tao of Detox, Healing Arts Press

(5) According to the tenets of Chinese medicine, the human immune system has three primary centres: the thymus (where immune cells are produced), the adrenals and the spine.

Daniel Reid, The Tao of Detox, Healing Arts Press

Supporting studies:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02321.x/full#js-feedback

Breathing, inflammation and the vagus nerve

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21158977

Assessment of the Effects of Pranayama/Alternate Nostril Breathing on the Parasympathetic Nervous System in Young Adults.

Anant Narayan Sinha – Published 2013 in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3681046/

 

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