Winter Defense

Yes, folks, it’s that season again. It happens to be a crisp, sunny day today, but normally winter in Portland is long, dark, and damp. On top of that, maybe you overworked before the holidays, you partied too much during the holidays, or maybe you’re just down because it’s a dreary January in Portland. Whatever the reason, a lot of people’s immune systems are out of whack around this time every year. Some get over it, but some continue to be sick all winter only to be hit with hay fever in early spring. Sound familiar? I dedicate this article to you.

Most people do not see the connection between acupuncture and colds/allergies. “I mean, isn’t acupuncture only good for pain relief?” Actually, the concept of Wei Qi (or “defensive Qi”) was already in practice over 2,000 years ago in China. Here is a summary:

  1. Wei Qi is distributed throughout the body by the Lung function;
  2. Wei Qi warms the skin, and the Lung nourishes the skin to protect our bodies.

How many of you are imagining shiny green sheaths wrapped around people’s bodies right now? You watch way too many Sci-Fi programs! The ancient Chinese had a tendency to use metaphors to describe the phenomena of nature, our immune system in this case. This tendency is actually a great way to describe something as intricate as the immune system since the more discoveries we make, the less we seem to actually know about our immune system.

“Defensive Qi” refers to an overall function of the skin and the lungs, the first line of defense against external pathogens. If you observe the structure of the lungs, you can understand why they are considered to be outside the body since they are constantly exposed to the air. Therefore, the skin and lungs function together. There is no medical proof of this in a Western sense, yet medical doctors are aware of the fact that, for example, one of the indications of serious lung disease is dry skin. I believe the connection between the two is an empirical discovery by the ancient Chinese.

Lung functions in the Eastern medical sense are supported by several other organs. I’m going to omit that part today since I don’t intend to take up this whole issue of the Yuuyake Shimbun. In short, the immune system is a whole body process. Stress lowers your immune response. Unhealthy bowels and poor digestion also affect your immune system. Regular acupuncture is definitely beneficial in strengthening your Lung functions and overall immunity against external pathogens. If you are the type of person who gets sick every winter or who dreads the hay fever season, you should consider visiting an acupuncturist’s office.

The best way to go about this is to start regular acupuncture sessions to regulate your immune system. If you already have cold or allergy symptoms, acupuncturists can usually offer very effective herbal remedies, too. If you are happy with the antibiotics that you are taking, that’s fine, too. Acupuncture is a non-invasive modality. It can still alleviate the symptoms and helps with your immune system. Hey, whatever works, right? However, please do not expect a miracle cure after one session. Acupuncture is a steady but slow process when it comes to adjusting the constitution of our bodies. For people who are thinking about preparing for hay fever in spring, you should start now, and take sufficient nutrients while watching your diet.