Chinese medical texts discussed infectious disease before 200 B.C. Documented records for the word “immune” was first seen in a text entitled, Formulas for the Immunity of Plague. In this the word “plague” had been a common term used to describe infectious disease that affected a large population. Although the terminology came later than Western medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine already knew about the practice of immunology from earlier dynasties. It was believed that in order to defend against infectious diseases one should always keep his/her healthy energy abundant and then those “evils” could not invade the system. The “evils” referred to were environmental factors that can invade a system and drive disease deeper into the body, such as wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness, etc.
This principle clearly shows that Chinese medicine regards “healthy energy” as the defense mechanism against infectious disease. Under normal circumstances the body depends on the immune system to fight against various infections and to clear up harmful materials in order to keep a clean internal environment. When the immune system functions normally health can be maintained, otherwise disharmony will arise and give rise to illness.
Chinese medicine focuses on mobilizing our innate healing powers. Most of its remedies work on the whole being and not just specific systems. Herbal formulas are often prescribed for acute and chronic illness. Awareness is a primary key in staying well. The sooner we notice symptoms the sooner we can take action. The symptoms of early onset cold and flu such as sneezing, runny nose, headache and slight cough can be easily treated with acupuncture and herbs so that the illness is often avoided altogether. Once an illness has taken root in the system, it must be further differentiated in order to properly treat those symptoms and the level of progression in the body. In Chinese medicine each stage of an illness requires different treatment and different herbal therapies.
Immunity and digestive function are inexorably linked. If you have underlying digestive issues such as candida overgrowth, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, chronic constipation or diarrhea-to name a few-these must be addressed and cleared up before other nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and foods will be properly assimilated in order to build immunity.
We will all become ill from time to time but the frequency and severity of that illness can be greatly reduced through the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies. I rarely contract a cold or flu but when I do, the worst of it lasts days-not weeks because I follow it from start to finish with appropriate action in order to avoid recurrent infections from a weakened immune system.
In our office we highly recommend our “Kick-It Kit” which includes three items every home health medicine cabinet should contain.
1. Yin Chao Jin: an early stage cold and flu formula.
2. Thieves Spray: a food-grade anti-bacterial essential oil blend. Cleanse the air you breathe with a spritz on your chest. Use it to sanitize your hands and/or objects you touch. Use to fight off sore throats.
3. Quiet Digestion: a formula to be used for acute digestive disturbances, nausea, jet lag, as well as food and drink over-indulgences of any kind.
Prevention is still the best medicine!
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 17+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.