Dr. Lea Kelley, DC, LAc, MTOM, DiplOM
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Building Protective Qi with TCM
Everybody gets sick at some point in their life. For some, it’s just a quick weekend thing. For others, it can last for several days and even weeks. Why do some people always get sick whenever there is a bug going around and others don’t? It all comes down to immunity. People who have a stronger immune system, tend to be sick less often. Those with compromised or weak immune systems, seem to get sick at the drop of a hat. There are many things that can be done to strengthen the immune system though. And Traditional Chinese Medicine is probably one of the best and least invasive ways to boost the immune system, not just during the winter months, but all year long.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the immune system is called Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi is closely associated with the internal organs, specifically the lungs. When the energy of the lungs is well-balanced, Wei Qi is strong and can easily fight off any external attacks. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs dominate the skin and breathing. If lung function is deficient or compromised in any way, then the body is more open to external pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Common symptoms of decreased Wei Qi or immunity include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, headaches, fever and/or chills.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been around for nearly 4,000 years. There are many tools in the kit of a TCM practitioner. Probably the most commonly used tools for building Wei Qi are acupuncture and herbal formulas. Acupuncture uses hair-thin stainless steel, single-use needles that are placed on specific acupressure points that can boost immunity and balance hormones. When the hormones are stressed and unbalanced, illness can occur. Acupuncture points associated with Wei Qi can strengthen the circulation of energy and blood, which will then boost the body’s defense mechanisms, thus helping to prevent illness. Regular acupuncture treatments can also cause the brain to increase T-cells in the body. T-cells destroy bacteria and viruses. Acupuncture needles provoke the body’s immune response by sending T-cells and white cells to the needle sites to fight off the invaders. These effects can last for several days, which keeps immunity higher than normal.
Chinese botanicals are another great way to build up Wei Qi. Any herb or herb combination that boosts or enhances the immune system will keep the body functioning at its optimal level. In TCM, there are many individual herbs that boost the Qi and some specifically boost the Wei Qi. Astragalus (huang qi) is one of the more frequently used Chinese herbs. It is used to tonify the Wei Qi, fortify the lungs and protect against pathogens. Studies show huang qi increases white blood cells, which can help fight off infection and pathogenic invasions.
Cordyceps (dong chong xia cao) is another immune-boosting herb. Cordyceps enhances immunity by increasing white blood cells, T-cells and interferon. It also can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. While cordyceps works very well by itself, it works even better when used as part of a formula, as do most Chinese herbs. When looking to use Chinese herbs, be sure to seek out a qualified herbalist and TCM practitioner to insure overall safety of the herb or formula.
TCM and all of its modalities can be very helpful in staying well and healthy. When added to the practices of proper sleep and nutrition, drinking lots of water and mild exercise, TCM will help keep the body’s immune system healthy. And hopefully if illness does occur, it will only be mild. Here’s to your health!
Research Update: Acupuncture and Intestinal Health
A study conducted by researchers at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and published by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, revealed the possible mechanism by which acupuncture treats Crohn’s Disease. This mechanism had been previously
unknown, although studies concluded acupuncture and moxibustion can relieve intestinal inflammation in patients suffering from the disease. This study identified there are two subsets of T-lymphocytes, Th17 and Treg cells, that are involved in the development of Crohn’s Disease and that acupuncture and moxibustion can help restore the balance between the cells, which could lead to a breakthrough in treatment of the disease.
More than 95 million Americans suffer from some sort of digestive disorder. This includes diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. There is evidence suggesting many of the ailments affecting the digestive system are occurring because of increased pesticides, artificial colorings, additives and preservatives that are being found in our food. Also the overuse of antibiotics has led to an epidemic in the United States that is actually killing the healthy intestinal bacteria that is needed to keep the body functioning properly.
TCM has been used to treat digestive disorders for centuries. According to Chinese medical theory, most digestive disorders are caused by a disharmony of the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a vital role in the health of the body and it helps to assimilate the nutrients from the food that we ingest. The spleen turns digested food from the stomach into vital energy that is known as Qi (pronounced “chee’).
More and more scientific data is coming out that shows the gut is acting like a second brain. The ability of the gastrointestinal system to constantly transform us is being studied extensively. Specifically the bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract is a major focus. The project known as the Human Microbiome Project may have a lot to teach us about our bodies and also how we utilize medicine. This project is confirming that microscopic bacteria colonies within the digestive tract play important roles for both our mental and physical health. The project is confirming that when we nourish these bacterial colonies, we also nourish our bodies.
Research shows we can actually reshape and repopulate damaged bacterial colonies within the gastrointestinal tract. This can be accomplished by tonifying the spleen and stomach during regular acupuncture sessions. One such way to do this is by using a point along the stomach meridian in every single acupuncture treatment. Stomach 36 is a wonderful tonifying point that can help with nearly every intestinal issue. But in addition to utilizing regular acupuncture treatments, acupuncturists can provide dietary supplements and herbs that may help, such as probiotics. Also recommending foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha may be helpful in repopulating the gut flora.
If you deal with gastrointestinal issues, acupuncture and TCM can be of benefit to you. Just be sure to locate a fully trained and properly licensed acupuncturist for all of your health and wellness needs.
How Positivity Positively Affects You
There is nothing more important than having a positive attitude. The attitude you display toward your day-to-day activities can make a huge difference in improving the quality of your life! Positivity makes the world go round and helps to ensure everything functions harmoniously. It’s a no-brainer that positivity, well, positively affects you.
You should allow the enhancing effects of positivity to start impacting your day as soon as possible. Start your day by letting small amounts of sunlight into your room, enjoying a cup of warming herbal tea and just reflecting on what it is you plan to accomplish today. A simple morning routine such as this can boost productivity and positivity throughout the day.
Once your day is started you should make sure to keep the positive energy going. It’s easy to allow the stress of your work day to get to you, and, this can crush the positive energy you have worked so hard to embody. The funny thing about this is positive thinking works to eliminate stress and improves well-being. So, in order to not let the work day stress get to you, simply think positive!
Positive thinking will not only eliminate stress, but it will improve your skills, your work ethic and the amount of success you will achieve in life. In addition to the morning routine, there are some other tips and tricks to help you gain a more positive mindset and apply consistent positive thinking to your lifestyle.
Exercise. Exercise is very important to both your physical and mental health, make sure you schedule time throughout your day to get some exercise or play-time in, by doing this you can help maintain a positive lifestyle.
Meditation. Meditation can be extremely beneficial to enriching your life with positive energy. If you do not happen to be an expert on meditation yourself, or you have never done it before, reach out to those in your community who can assist you with mediation and help you harness its benefits.
Writing. Writing down your thoughts and journaling can help reduce stress and induce positivity. It is important to catalog our thoughts, this way we do not bottle them up. So, start a journal, a blog or even write some poetry. A little writing can go a long way to making you stay positivity.
Learn to live as one with positivity and you will succeed in all your long-term goals.
Three Daily Rituals to Stay Positive
It’s so important to start your day off on the right foot. A healthy and happy morning can lead to a successful and productive day. Sometimes the key to starting off your day right can be practicing a few daily rituals in order to stay calm, collected and focused. Not only will making these rituals part of your everyday routine help your morning, but it will greatly increase the overall quality of your whole day.
1. Write - Keep a Journal
Right when you start your day it can be helpful to write out a small list of goals that you have for the upcoming 24 hours. Keep a small notebook or journal by your bed and when you wake up write down some goals for the day that will help you stay positive and focused.
Exercise is key. You need to make sure to get your blood moving when you begin your day. The smallest amount of exercise can make a big difference as to whether or not your day is positive, productive and successful.
3. Morning herbal tea
Having something nice and warm to start your day can ensure positivity throughout the rest of it. Start your day with a soothing cup of herbal tea and think positive thoughts as you drink every sip. The combination of a good tea and positive thinking can be very beneficial for staying positive.