The ancient Chinese philosophers who devised the system that’s come to be known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) didn’t know their leukocytes from their phagocytes or their T-Cells from their B-Cells, and other recently-discovered inner workings of the immune system.
But one of the remarkable things about the several-thousand-year-old disciple of TCM is the innate wisdom it possesses when it comes to the innate immune system. Like Western medicine, TCM believes that the body possesses a natural defense against illnesses. When a body is healthy (existing in a harmonious state of Yin-Yang balance), TCM theory holds, no evils (external pathogens) can invade.
But in any given year, the seasonal transition from late summer to fall can weaken the immune system, which is called Wei Qi or Defensive Qi in TCM. Throw in the usual stressors of life and the unusually challenging events of 2020, and it’s easy to see how tenuous our Yin-Yang balance is, provided we have homeostasis to begin with.
In light of this, here are some ways you can strengthen your Defensive Qi….
Strengthen Defensive Qi While Sleeping
The seasonal transition from late summer to fall can weaken the immune system, which is called Wei Qi or Defensive Qi in TCM.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get the benefits of exercise without exercising, much less lifting a finger? Unfortunately, no such luck there. However, you can give your Defensive Qi an invigorating workout simply by getting plenty of sleep every night.
Chinese ancient philosophers would have likely agreed with Founding Father Benjamin Franklin’s maxim, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While recent research doesn’t prove a correlation between sleep quality and financial health, there’s ample evidence showing a direct link between sleep and immune function. Unfortunately, for millions of people, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done.
To increase your chances of getting a better night’s sleep, follow these tips: 1) Avoid eating late at night; 2) Stop using electronic devices (TV, laptop, smart phone) at least two hours before going to bed; 3) Place electronic devices on airplane mode or power them off before getting in bed; 4) Do 10-15 minutes of breathing, meditation, Tai Chi or Qi Gong before getting in bed; 5) Go to bed at the same time every night; 6) Avoid drinking alcohol within two hours before bedtime; 7) Take one of our herbal sleep support formulas.
Build Wei Qi While Breathing
Actually, who says you can’t exercise without moving a muscle? While laying on your back in bed, you can practice deep breathing exercises, which will in turn strengthen your respiratory function. In TCM, the Lungs are considered the most exterior organ, and the one first likely to be compromised by an exterior pathogen. Studies (like this one) show that various forms of breathing can enhance immune function.
To perform deep breathing exercises, inflate your belly like a balloon, which is fairly easy to do. Then, while your belly is still expanded, try to inflate your lungs. Inflating both the belly and the lungs takes some getting used to. But with a little practice, you’ll perfect the technique in no time. Try to perform 10 deep breaths and repeat for 3 cycles, allowing yourself to relax for a minute in between rounds.
If your Lungs could use some support, especially when the air is very dry, our formula LungVigor may help.
Support Your Sinuses
Your body’s first line of defense against external pathogens are the sinuses. You can think of the sinuses as the gatekeeper to the Lungs. Saline nasal rinses with warm water may help clear the sinuses of intruders that have penetrated the Defensive Qi. Your body’s Wei Qi starts with the skin. But when it comes to the sinuses, the openings of the nostrils don’t have much skin to prevent pathogens from entering the respiratory system. You may also support your sinuses with our formula NasoPass, which expels toxins and disperses Wind, which is one of the “evils” of TCM theory.
No More Summer Salads
In traditional Chinese cuisine, no matter the region, whether it’s Cantonese or Szechuan, one thing you’ll never find on the menu is a salad. Although salads are regarded as one of the healthiest things one can eat in the West, according to TCM philosophy, eating raw, cold foods are taxing to the digestive system. Is eating a salad going to throw off your Yin-Yang balance to the point that your Defensive Qi is going to weaken? Have you ever heard of the expression, “Death by 1000 papercuts?” This phrase means that one little nick won’t hurt you. But 1000 will. So if you have an occasional salad, you should be fine. But if it’s part of your nightly meal, it could hinder your Spleen’s ability to form Blood from the Qi derived from the food you eat. This in turn could eventually weaken your immune system.
So what should you eat? Consume seasonal roasted vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes and cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower, as well as autumn fruits like pears and apples. Galic, ginger and onions, too, may help strengthen Wei Qi.
Protect Yourself From Cold and Wind
According to TCM theory, mom was right when she told you to bring a jacket. That’s because the two pernicious evils that are prevalent this year, Cold and Wind, are the most likely to strike a blow to your Defensive Qi. Not only should you protect yourself from the elements, you can also support your body’s internal environment from a Cold Wind assault. And the easiest way to do this is with our celebrated herbal formula, Jade Defender, which contains astragalus (Huang Qi), an herb that’s been shown in many research studies to possess properties that support the immune system.
Strengthen Defensive Qi: Conclusion
Eating a healthy (warming) diet, getting plenty of rest and moderate exercise sounds like a simple solution. But far too few people in this modern, hectic age follow this advice. For those that do, and for those that take the extra steps necessary to support their Wei Qi—taking Jade Defender, getting acupuncture, and drinking Huang Qi tea—the transition from summer to fall may not be so bad after all.