In the West, the idea of an immune system is a recent idea, less than a hundred years old. In China, doctors were strengthening the defensive energy (wei qi) over a thousand years ago. It was easy for them to understand the idea of protective energy, because they already understood the concept of qi (life force) , and the fact that qi, could influence our health as well as be effected by our health.
It is commonly understood that poor diet, sleep and stress decrease the immune system’s ability to fight off disease. Together with acupuncture and herbs, we can work to correct imbalances that are causing sleep problems, or are a result of stress and poor diet. I offer herbs specific to you, to address areas where you are personally needing some assistance to get back to your body’s natural state of balance.
Here is a small sampling of commonly known herbs that are used in Chinese Medicine to boost immunity and their functions.
As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I would not recommend running out to the store to use all of these at the same time. Instead, I would evaluate where support is most needed and take into consideration your symptoms and any other medications you may be taking.
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER HERBS (just to give you an idea)
ASTRALAGUS Stimulate interferon, fights bacteria, stimulated macrophages to fight off viruses and bacteria, activates dormant immune cells. Do not use if you have High Blood Pressure
ECHINACEA Stimulates immune cells in the body, production of interferon, production of tumor necrosis factor. Has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Used in AIDS and cancer treatments along with conventional medical treatment.
GARLIC Antibacterial properties, inhibits the growth of cancer, strong antioxidant removing environmental poisons and toxins.
SIBERIAN GINSENG Normalizes all the functions of the body and fights stress, illness, and fatigue. Not a true ginseng. Eleutheroside, its primary ingredient has been shown to increase athletic performance, and immunity by increasing the lymphocytes.
GRAPE SEED EXTRACT Great immune builder, has flavenoids that fight free radicals. The flavonoid oligomeric preanthocyanidin is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C and E.
GREEN TEA Antibacterial agent especially for tooth decay, and gum disease. Strong antioxidant reduces free radicals, and lowers blood pressure.
I love to use Homeopathic remedies for prevention and to treat symptoms. When you are just feeling the twinge of getting sick, is when you need to jump into action with homeopathic remedies along with rest, bundling up, eating well and not overworking. Many studies have been done with Oscillococcinum that show it not only prevents illness but shortens the duration. As prevention, I use Oscillococcinum 200cc just once a week, and at the first sign of symptoms I up the dose to one vial every two hours.
In these cold months, it is important to get back to the basics of keeping warm, bundling up around your neck especially when going out into the cold and wind, getting plenty of rest, taking your daily multivitamins and nutritional supplements and then stopping to take care of yourself or your children at the first signs of illness in order to keep it short and sweet!