Using Chinese medicine for immunity

Your defensive force, in Chinese medicine, is managed mainly by your lungs, because your lungs are recognised as managing your skin and hair on the outside. Also your lungs are themselves a kind of porous skin on the inside, through which air passes.

So Chinese medicine puts a great deal of emphasis on healthy lungs. Hence the need to take exercise, to make your lungs work!

You've heard of Yin and Yang? Maybe they don't mean much to you, but they are ways of understanding yourself and the universe. In your body, the:

  • Yang principle defends you and keeps everything warm.
  • Yin principle nourishes and rests you, keeping everything working properly and not too hot.

Yin and Yang oppose each other, but support each other too. It's a big subject! If you understand Yin and Yang, you understand the principles behind Chinese medicine. 

We get too much Yang when we overheat, whether from exercise, the weather or disease - or after a very strong curry.

We get too much Yin when we become really cold, or get old or can't exercise, and our bodily organs become inefficient, weak and slow. Also, when we eat foods inappropriate to our health, such as eating cold or iced food on cold days or when we are already cold or tired. (Chinese medicine knows a lot about nutrition and what helps and hinders immunity. Believe me, it's not just vitamin C!)

Usually, your body fights disease with heat: fever, for example. It's only had a million years of evolution to get it right. It often works pretty well if given half a chance. 

You and I don't enjoy fever and the aches and pains it brings as our bodies galvanise themselves for the fight. So we take medicines that cut the pain and reduce the inflammation and fever. That doesn't help our bodies, which are left with the remains, which hang around for weeks as phlegm, tiredness, slight soreness (throat, muscles and joints) and mild depression.

Ideally your body defends itself through a definite process. If you are really healthy, it starts by utilising the yang areas (top, back and sides, so headaches, neck aches and fever) and only gradually allows the disease entry if it must, round to the front, the inside, your lungs and digestion.

Acupuncture uses this by alerting the acupuncture channels or meridians at the back and sides, and strengthening the ones at the front. 

Later, if you have taken medicines to quell the symptoms of the disease but now feel low in energy and spirits, acupuncture is used to help clear the phlegm, strengthen your yang (remember! You took medicine to stop your yang - heating - reaction, so it's a bit 'down') and organise your Yin energies to create better blood and 'Qi', the Chinese name for energy.

For this, you might need advice about food and living habits, and cupping to help your body clear old blood, 'moxa' to warm you and acupuncture to organise it all. Read more about all this at!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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