Fall is always a time when there is increased promotion for flu shot. TV commercials and signs at the local pharmacy highly recommend the flu vaccination for prevention. Although many people get the flu shot each year, not everyone chooses too. In addition, getting the flu shot does not guarantee that you will not get sick. Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that are projected to be most common during the upcoming season.
There are typically 2 factors the impact the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. The first is the health and stamina of the person getting the vaccine and the 2nd is the match between the flu virus that is circulating and that which the body is being protected against. There are no guarantees that getting the flu shot will prevent you from getting the flu!
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, either as stand-alone treatment modality, or in conjunction with the flu shot, can strengthen the body’s immune system and reduce the likelihood of getting the flu.
In Chinese Medicine, we are most susceptible to the flu when our immune system is weakened, which allows for an “external pathogen” to enter our body. These pathogens enter through the nose (the air we breathe) and the skin. One of the first signs of getting sick is a chill and body aches. At this point, an external pathogen (such as wind, cold or damp) is fighting to enter our body! If our immune system is strong, we are able to fight this pathogen and stay healthy. If it isn’t, we are more likely to fall ill.
Acupuncture works to strengthen our Qi energy. Qi is our “life force”. It is responsible for all our body functions – our breath, heartbeat, digestion – every function of the body is a function of qi. We have over 20 kinds of qi in our body – Including qi that “protects our body from external pathogens” entering. We call this Wei qi – our protective qi. Our Wei qi protects us from getting sick, from becoming depleted and from being susceptible to the flu and other illnesses.
Both acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine work to strengthen our wei qi. It is not uncommon in China to see people drinking herbal medicine tea as prevention to getting sick. There are many simple herbal formulas that are prescribed. In addition, acupuncture helps to strengthen our overall qi energy as well as our Wei qi. There is a reason why we so often hear in our clinic that one of the side effects of regular acupuncture is that people do not get sick as often!