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We briefly discussed how to prevent common colds in a previous post, so consider this a sequel with even more information about maintaining a healthy immune system to protect yourself from pathogens! As we've mentioned before, we see the body from a completely different perspective in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but at our clinic we also like to integrate the best of the Western medical standpoint, which also includes holistic therapies like homeopathy and naturopathy. We think it makes sense to help the body in every way possible, and in that vein, here are a few more ways to boost your immunity:
- Load up on vitamin C: Necessary for maintaining tissue structure and repair in the body, vitamin C also plays a role in immunity. Eat plenty of foods rich in this vitamin - citrus is the most well-known example but it can also be found in other produce like bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes - and take a supplement for extra support. There is some debate about how much vitamin C the body needs, so do your own research and take the amount that's comfortable to you. As a general guideline, you're not at risk about overdoing it if you're getting your C from food, and if you experience diarrhea after taking it in supplement form, you should back off on your dosing.
- Think about zinc: Although it's a mineral and not a vitamin, zinc is similar to vitamin C in that it has many functions in the body, including strengthening the immune system. Unlike C, zinc has a known upper limit and should not be taken in large quantities. In addition to causing digestive issues, too much zinc can affect the balance of copper in the body and lead to chronic issues. That being said, make sure that you're getting adequate zinc through food sources like whole grains, red meat, and certain nuts and consider supplementation if advised by your doctor. (Standard Process has a simple zinc test that can be done to test your body's levels.)
- Boost the Lung system: The immune system is a function of the Lungs in TCM, which you can easily tonify with intentional diet choices and acupressure. We say that anything white in color goes to the Lungs, so add white foods like onion, garlic, and horseradish to what you usually eat. What we call "pungent" or "acrid" foods also help this system, which you can think of as foods with strong flavors. Onion, garlic, and horseradish are great examples, as are spices. (Just be careful not to consume too much spicy food if you tend to run hot because they can produce more heat in the body!) Finally, the Lung meridian starts in the chest and flows down the arm to the thumb, and you can stimulate the points on this channel to influence the Lungs as well. Google its exact path to massage it or look up qigong exercises designed to aid in the circulation of qi and blood through the channel.
- Use colloidal silver: Silver has been used throughout history for its antimicrobial properties and can now be found in a variety of forms. We could go into it more here but would rather you check out Sovereign Silver's explanation.
- Be liberal with essential oils, especially Thieves: Each essential oil has its own unique properties that make it especially beneficial for particular purposes - i.e. Lavender is very calming for sleep and Peppermint is energizing for cognitive function and focus - and most essential oil companies also make blends for specific purposes. Gary Young developed Thieves based on a legend: During the time of the plague, a group of merchants robbed the dead and dying without contracting the infectious and fatal disease themselves. When the thieves were finally apprehended and asked how they were still alive after being around the sick, they shared the blend of spices that they used to protect themselves. Now we can use this blend of Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove, and Lemon to help our immune system by building it up to protect against pathogens and support its fight when we do get sick.
Are there other ways to boost immunity? Of course! We wholeheartedly encourage you to do your own research and see what works best with your routine. You don't necessarily have to do "all the things" but it's always in your best interest to make healthy choices that support the body's natural protective and healing processes. Exercising, eating well, managing stress, and the other components of a wellness-based lifestyle all contribute to a strong immune system and strong well-being overall, so listen to your body and take the time to make health a priority. You deserve to feel your best!
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.