As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. The core belief of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) lies in prevention. What better way to prevent yourself from falling sick than to build a strong immunity to keep yourself healthy?
The ongoing pandemic situation has been accompanied by a rising interest in immunity boosting foods and products. In our recent Ask My Physician webinar on “Boosting your Immunity – the TCM Perspective”, TCM Physician Tay Jia Yin from Raffles Chinese Medicine shared with us how TCM looks at immunity and how we can use TCM to protect us from illnesses such as the common cold and allergies.
TCM and Qi
From the perspective of TCM, the amount and quality of “Qi (气)” or “life force” determines how healthy and full of vitality a person is. This Qi needs to be balanced in order to maintain good health. A person with strong Qi is full of energy and does not fall sick easily. Even when they do, the illness tends to be mild. On the other hand, a person with weak Qi gets tired easily and frequently falls ill.
What are some ways to strengthen your Qi for better immunity? Here are 5 tips from Physician Tay.
1. Eat healthy
There are four types of Qi – Parental, Nutritional, Pectoral and Defensive.
The Defensive Qi is the first line of defense in our body. It acts as a protective barrier under the skin and is responsible for preventing germs like bacteria and viruses from entering our body. Many factors can undermine this Defensive Qi and one of them include poor food choices.
To maintain good immunity, ensure that you drink sufficient water, take fresh vegetables, some meat and fish, a bit of oil, seeds, nuts and grains. Avoid taking too much raw food or sugar, and foods that are spicy, heavy, oily or highly processed.
2. Sleep and wake up early
Sleeping and waking up early is good for the body and there is truth to it. In TCM, every function of our body is linked to a specific time on the TCM body clock. It goes in two-hour intervals and this is the time when a particular organ system is the most energised and working the hardest.
11pm – 3am:
This is when the Gallbladder and Liver systems are the most active. During this period, body repair and regeneration happens to prepare the body for activity the next day. This is why the best time for sleep is before 11pm to ensure we get the most benefits out of our sleep.
7am – 9am:
This is when the Stomach is most active. This therefore makes breakfast the most important meal of the day. Avoid cold food during this time as it causes the Stomach to contract and its natural functions to be impaired.
For adults, the ideal amount of sleep time is generally 6-8 hours a day. So be sure to get sufficient amount of good quality sleep to maintain good immune health!
3. Chinese herbs for immunity
Chinese herbs are used to tonify Qi, protect the body from external pathogens, disperse wind, discharge heat and resolve dampness. The common Chinese herbs used for immunity include Astragalus (Huang Qi/ ⿈芪), Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu/ ⽩朮), Divaricate Saposhnikovia Root (Fang Feng/ 防风) and Licorice (Gan Cao/ ⽢草). They can be added into soups or brewed into teas and taken once or twice weekly to boost immunity.
Acupressure works by applying pressure on specific points (acupoints) so that Qi in the body can go to that area to have an effect. The LI-4 and LU-7 are two acupoints that you can massage regularly for that immunity boost.
5. Teas for Immunity
If you are looking for some homemade herbal tea for immunity, here are two recipes you can try. The Astragalus Tea strengthens the Defensive Qi for general immunity while the Starfruit Mulberry Tea helps to remove heat and wind, and quench thirst.
Overall, healthy lifestyle habits like having a well-balanced diet, getting sufficient rest and staying physically active require considerable amount of effort and discipline. If you are not already doing it, make some conscious effort today! These are fundamentals for improving immune health and will go a long way in keeping you strong and healthy.
If you would like to learn more about the TCM’s perspective on immunity, you may watch the full webinar recording “Boosting your Immunity – the TCM Perspective” by Physician Tay and download a copy of the key summary points here.
Raffles Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach to your health and wellness. Their TCM physicians are trained to address a range of medical conditions in internal medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, dermatology and others. To find out more about the services offered by Raffles Chinese Medicine, click here.