The use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is an important key to support the body’s innate immune system. No matter what time of year, it is important to maintain a healthy immune system which provides protection against frequent infections, common cold and more serious illnesses. Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes different organ functions to be responsible for specific functions in the body. The concept of immunity involves 2 major organs: spleen and lung. The energy, or qi, of the lung is responsible for defense against external pathogens. However, the ability of the lung qi to protect the body relies heavily upon the production of qi from the spleen.
Let’s first examine the lung. The common cold and flu (any disease that you “catch”) is a sign that exterior pathogens are invading the body. (The old wives’ tale of not going outside with wet hair to avoid getting sick still rings true within Chinese medicine.) When people are more prone towards catching colds, they are not able to protect themselves again invading pathogens due to a lack of lung qi. This is because the lung qi governs the skin. In such cases, lung qi is not protecting the body’s exterior, or the skin layer. The lung qi and skin are the body’s first line of defense against exterior pathogens. When a pathogen invades, problems immediately arise within both the skin (sweating, chills) and the lungs (coughing, sneezing, runny nose, etc.) Thus when there is insufficient lung qi, there is a lowered level of immunity.
Next, the spleen also plays an integral role in this defense. While the lung qi is responsible for circulating qi to the skin layer, the spleen is where qi is created. The spleen qi is responsible for transforming food and beverages into qi. When the spleen is imbalanced or deficient, qi is not available to disperse to other organs, including the lung. This is why dietary habits are incredibly important for maintaining strong immunity. When the spleen becomes taxed or overwhelmed due to a diet full of sugar, dairy, fast foods, fried or greasy foods, its ability to create qi is severely inhibited. The spleen’s energy performs best under warm and dry conditions. Therefore, foods that are warm and cooked are especially important for those with weak immune systems. (No matter what time of year!) If the spleen is properly supported and able to function fully, the lung will also be supported with enough qi to secure the exterior against invading pathogens.
Of course in addition to diet and rest, maintenance acupuncture treatments are a means to support the qi of the entire body. Regular acupuncture sessions are used to identify and address any constitutional deficiencies and to support the body’s overall state of balance.