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Supporting your Immune System

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

The media are doing a good job of helping to fuel our health anxieties with all this coverage of Covid-19 (aka the Coronavirus). It is useful to know and understand how these viruses are transmitted and to be aware that they can be potentially dangerous. However, it is very important to not let the fear overtake rationality and to remember that we are not powerless against viruses. Our immune systems have been evolving and adapting to cope with viruses just like these since the dawn of time so it is important to have some faith in your own body’s ability to cope with this virus. In addition to following the important advice to reduce the risk of disease transmission through hygiene measures, there are some easy actions you can take to help support your immune system and ready yourself for whatever pathogens come your way. Read on to find out more about top tips you can do to support your immune system.

  1. Make sure you get enough sleep and try to maintain a regular sleep pattern i.e. going to bed at roughly the same time and getting up at roughly the same time every day. Aim for 8-9 hours.

  2. Manage or avoid stress well. We all have stresses in our lives – some of which we can control and some we can’t. Let the little things slide and use stress management techniques like walking in nature, meditation, yoga or mindfulness. Acupuncture is also fantastic at helping to relax and reduce stress levels.

  3. Keep active and move regularly throughout the day, but avoid intense or strenuous activity that leaves you exhausted. Do what is manageable for you according to your constitution and lifestyle.

  4. Cut out crap, processed foods, eat real foods and increase the nutrient density of your foods. Aim for 7 or more servings of vegetables and fruit everyday or at the very least 5 a day. Eat good quality animal proteins, fish and legumes (beans and pulses if you tolerate them well).

5. Eat more foods that help to support your gut health as well as provide you with abundant immune boosting nutrients such as: cruciferous veggies, leafy veggies, mushrooms, onion family (especially spring onions and garlic), carrots, beetroots, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, parsley, apples, berries, citrus fruit, extra virgin olive oil, fish, shellfish, organ meat, green and black tea, herbal teas such as ginger, Echinacea, elderberry, dark chocolate, grass-fed beef, nuts, seeds, bone broth.

6. Keep hydrated with plenty of water or herbal teas (warm or cold, whichever you prefer)

7. Check your vitamin D levels and if needed, consider supplementing with a good quality vitamin D3 – remember in the Scottish winters we get almost no natural vitamin D so there is a good chance your levels will be low. Vitamin D is essential for keeping your immune system in balance. Read more about Vitamin D here:

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture support of Immunity

From a Chinese medicine perspective the Wei Qi is very important to fighting off pathogenic factors. The concept of Wei Qi is similar to some aspects of the immune system in conventional medicine. Following the guidance above helps to strengthen “Wei Qi” and there are some acupuncture points that can help too. Stimulating acupuncture points Lu7 and LI4 on the hands and wrists and BL12 and BL13 on the upper back are used by acupuncturists to boost the Wei Qi and expel pathogens in the upper respiratory system. Images of these point locations are below. You can apply acupressure to these points by rubbing the points for a couple of minutes regularly.

Jill Storstein MSc DipAc MBAcC is an acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council. She works in Aberfeldy and Edinburgh, Scotland.

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