So Spring is springing, and how glorious it is to be down to one coat! But it has not been without its fair share of hot and cold and windy weather about. And with all these changes in the weather, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep our immune systems strong and at the ready.
Diseases that affect the immune system range from everyday irritations, such as mild seasonal allergies, like hay fever, to serious illnesses, such as leukaemia. Stress, lack of sleep and other common conditions can contribute to a weakened immune system, which can make you vulnerable to infections.
Scientific research has shown that acupuncture increases the white blood cells in the body and moderates the immune system allowing it to react swiftly and strongly to threats. This is explained in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) theory, as the Wei Qi barrier, the body’s first line of defence. This qi energy circulates just beneath our skin and with help from the lungs, regulates sweating, as it controls the opening of pores on the skin. It is this function which plays a key part in immunity as it keeps pores closed, preventing disease factors getting into our bodies.
TCM identified viruses and bacteria as pathogenic factors, long before they were recognised by conventional medicine as pathogens, which cause disease. Wind, cold, heat and damp, as well as other environmental factors are popular pathogenic factors. Emotional drain, such as bereavement or long-term stress can compromise the immune system, whilst recurring infections or excessive use of antibiotics, will also lower immunity and compromise how our bodies response to pathogens.
If your immune system is already very low, you may need to increase acupuncture to weekly sessions for a month or take herbs. Chinese herbal medicine has many herbs which enhance immunity. Huang qi, for example, greatly increases white blood cells and natural killer cells. A combination of the steps above, regular acupuncture treatments, prescribed herbs and rest make a massive difference and will restore an ailing system quickly and effectively.
Here are a few other natural treatments that can help you to stay on top of the winter bugs, so that you can hit summer with that spring in your step and glint in your eye 😉
As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. Your gut represents a whopping 70% of your body’s immune system. Eat foods high in fibres that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, such as onions, leeks, celery, artichokes, beans and asparagus.
Ensuring that you keep up fluids, exercise and a healthy amount of vegetables, will always be a sure fire way of maintaining a healthy immune system. Furthermore, the current research out there is overwhelming into the negative effects of sugar rich drinks and food items, so do keep these at a low.
Zinc is an important friend of a healthy immune system. Seafood, mushrooms, seeds, lamb and beef, are all high in zinc. Vitamin C is vital for combatting fatigue and tiredness. Watercress, spinach, citrus fruits, chilli, broccoli and asparagus are all high in Vitamin C.
Although you can get vitamin D through some fortified foods and sunlight, we don’t always get time to be outside, or there isn’t enough sun in some countries. As this is a very important vitamin for the treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases, among other things, be sure to take a good supplement daily.
One of the best ways to build your immune strength daily is through superfoods. These foods can be incorporated on a daily basis so that you are constantly improving and boosting your immunity while eating yummy foods.
Raw garlic is not called a superfood for nothing. It has very strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The potent sulphur compound allicin, which is found in garlic, is known to treat serious gastro intestinal infections such as small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth, completely eradicates parasites and yeast infections. This can be used either through natural eating one raw garlic clove a day, or taking a concentrated version of the allicin extract.
Oregano oil has a long history of being used as a strong antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal fighter. It is effective in treating yeast infections when taken orally and can also be used topically to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections of the skin (MRSA).
Honey has long been used as a strong immune booster, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent. Manuka honey, part of the honey family, and native to New Zealand and Australia, is commonly used as part of wound care as it has compounds in it which kill bacteria when applied topically to a wound. It also has the ability to work synergistically with antibiotics to improve their efficacy.
Elderberry, aka the Sambucus nigra, the most common elderberry variety, has been used as a potent immune booster since the days of Hippocrates. It’s been proven to be effective against influenza A and B, resistant and non-resistant staph infections, herpes simplex and many others.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most important families of bacteria that populate our gut from birth, and are very important for our immune health. Choose a probiotic that has at least 30 to 50 billion colonies and at least eight strains of bacteria. Double this dose if you’re coming down with a cold or have to take antibiotics. Remember, probiotics are live organisms, so be sure to get a good-quality brand. Also, eating a selection of fermented foods – like sauerkraut, naturally fermented pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto, and kombucha – will ensure a super healthy gut . Some of these are also really fun to make, so get your experiment on J
Regular good sleep plays an important role in the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Develop and maintain positive habits around your sleep ritual, such as avoiding electronic devices before bed, drinking plenty of water during the day to ensure that you are hydrated, reducing your caffeine and sugar intake, not eating or drinking too late and sleeping in a dark room. Some research suggests that sleeping under weighted blankets can also help improve quality of sleep.