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Wei Qi-immune support

By Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

According to the wisdom tradition of Chinese medicine, our Wei Qi circulates on our body’s surface, protecting us from pathogens like bacteria and viruses.  This can be loosely related to how Western medicine views the immune system. In Chinese medicine, the belief is that viruses, bacteria and other pathogens are always present and generally non-threatning  to our health unless our Wei Qi has been compromised.

Compromised Wei Qi then leaves our body’s defenses weak against whatever pathogens one might be exposed to in daily life.  If a person keeps a lifestyle, such as an unhealthy diet or inadequate sleep over time, then they will ultimately deplete their body’s Wei Qi. Thus leaving them very vulnerable to developing illnesses.  In addition to how lifestyles can effect our Wei Qi is the variable  factor of extreme weather or stress.  Changes in weather, such as large swings in temperature, moisture or wind also weaken our Wei Qi.   On a windy fall day, a person with a poor diet who is lacking sleep, will most likely be a person who dealing with some stage of illness.

Stress also depletes our Wei Qi by fatiguing our ability to rest deeply. Often causing indigestion, anxiety, increased pain and insomnia. One of the great bummers of stress is that it does compromise your Wei Qi, often leaving us overwhelmed and sick, at the same time.

Preventing disease has been the center of Chinese Medicine, since its inception.

In the ancient Chinese text, the Neijing states, “To administer medicines to diseases which have already developed  is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to make their weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would those actions not be too late? 

The fall and winter time tends to be a much harder time of year to stay healthy. If you know that

you are headed toward winter with compromised Wei Qi, please be good to yourself and start repairing your health before you get sick.  Start practicing better lifestyle habits; eat better, get more sleep, stay hydrated, exercise, and limit sugar. Start/resume taking vitamins and herbs that improve your health and reach out for help if you need it before you get sick.  We have seen a couple rounds of illness already pass thru the valley, if you are sick now or still not fully recovered consider using Chinese medicine to help restore your Wei Qi.  To your good health!

Lung health during the smokey times

Here are a few suggestions that may help you get through these smokey

 times.

1. Drink plenty of water!  Water helps flush pollution/debris from

     your body and keeps your mucous membranes moist and immune system

      functioning.

 2. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity. If you are exercising it is best to do it indoors in a place that has filtered air.

 3. If you do need to work outside, a wet bandana can help cut down on

      the amount of smoke entering the lungs. 

 4. Check the air filter in you heating and cooling system and replace

       it if it is dirty.  You may also want to invest in a supplemental air

       filter to further clean your indoor living space.

5. Fruits, especially apples and pears help to moisten the lungs and keep them clean. Getting plenty of fruits and veggies in            

      general with help lung health in a variety of ways.

 6. Regular intake of antioxidants will help minimize the free radical

      damage that can result from smoke and pollution.  Vitamin C, E, A or

       green tea extract can be helpful.

 7. Acupuncture can be very helpful for processing pollution and

     related symptoms such as cough, asthma, shortness of breath, chest

     tightness, sore throat, etc.  It also keeps the body’s metabolism

     working properly when we are not able to get as much exercise as we

      are used to.

8. Chinese herbal formula’s can be remarkably effective at

     moistening and moving the lungs, as well as removing toxins from lung

      tissue and helping damaged tissues to heal.

9. Drinking warmer liquids can help stimulate the cilia of the lungs

    to more effectively remove toxins from the system.  Green tea is rich

    in antioxidants that can be very helpful for aiding the lungs.

10. Steam inhalations with certain essential oils such as eucalyptus

     or peppermint can help to keep the lungs open and clear.

 

 Hopefully these ideas help you get through this challenging time.

Best wishes!

 

Cough and Chinese Medicine

healthy lungsThe cough that won’t go away

by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

Winter can be tough.  After the lights of the holidays are put away and the family and friends all leave, we are often left with a few extra pounds, a few less dollars and some kind of cold.  The real new years hangover often isn’t due to too much alcohol, rather to that feeling of exhaustion that typically comes after the holiday marathon.  This is one of the most common times of the year when people develop the cough that won’t go away.  Coughing is annoying.  It can ruin a nights sleep, interrupt conversation, and make your entire body sore.   A cough can linger long after the other symptoms of a virus or bacterial infection.  In our clinical experience it is one of the aspects of a cold that doesn’t seem to go away easily.

Coughs can be caused by many different sources, such as viruses, bacteria, allergies or asthma.  They typically occur after a virus enters your upper respiratory system through your nose or mouth, and makes it down into your lungs.  Here a virus or bacteria can cause inflammation in the lungs (bronchitis) or a lung infection (pneumonia).  People typically become sick due to a viral infection that can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to a bacterial infection.

Viruses are treated by supporting the immune system with rest, fluids, vitamins, herbs and patience.  Bacteria can be treated with these same things, but if a bacterial infection gets too severe antibiotics may also be used.  Sometimes even after a virus or bacteria is no longer present, a person may still be stuck with a nagging cough.  

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the most effective ways to deal with this type of cough. TCM treats this sort of cough with a combination of acupuncture, herbs and diet that help the body reset after a cold.  TCM considers a lingering cough as a result of your body being too tired to “clean up” and to restore proper function after an illness. It classifies the cough as one of two types:  wet or dry.   

A dry cough is a one that produces little to no mucous.  It is the result of damage to the lungs “yin” and “qi” caused by the infection, or due to excessive coughing.  Yin is the aspect of the body that cools, moistens and calms, while qi is the body’s energy.  Without sufficient yin, you feel dry.  Without enough lung qi, you can feel tired and having breathing trouble, including a cough.  TCM addresses a dry cough by using yin building, moistening foods, including pears or apples, and a variety of herbs to build up the deficient yin and qi.  A wet cough is one which produces a seemingly unending amount of thin, watery mucous. The primary focus is on the treating the digestion, or the earth element.  TCM says that phlegm and mucous is produced in the digestive system, and then is stored in the lungs.  So even though the lungs appear the problem area, we primarily focus on supporting the digestive system.  One of the best ways to do this is with the proper dietary choices.  Dairy products, cold/frozen foods, raw foods and sweets should be avoided, as they create more mucous in the body.  The most supportive diet for a lingering cough focuses on warm and nourishing foods, such as soups and stews, and warm spices, such as ginger.  Acupuncture and herbs can also be remarkably helpful for addressing this sort of cough.

Regardless of the type of cough that you may have, sometimes “waiting it out” isn’t the best solution.  Coughs often can be overcome by the proper treatment approach and a little diligence.

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