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The Immune System: A Chinese Medicine Perspective

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), many things contribute towards a strong immune system. Our inherited health (Jing) forms the basis of our constitution. Our Jing, or vital essence, is what we receive from our parents at conception. This concept in TCM could be closely linked to our DNA. Our lifestyle choices then either supplement or deplete this inherited Qi. The Western explanation of this would be epigenetics.


If we eat a nourishing diet, get adequate sleep and rest, exercise (not to excess) and nurture our emotions, we contribute positively to our overall health and wellbeing. Conversely, if we burn the candle at both ends, we deplete our Qi and immune function.

In Chinese Medicine, our immune function is dependent upon the condition of three different types of Qi: 

  1. Wei Qi – is our outer defence mechanism or external layer that protects us from invading external pathogens. These pathogens attack via the elements of wind, cold, damp and heat. 

  2. Ying Qi – is the energy we get from our diet. Good nutrition received from the food we eat and clean, filtered water we drink will contribute to a healthy immune system. 

  3. Yuan Qi – is energy that comes from our kidneys which activates the liquids and essence of our blood. This keeps our healthy oxygenated circulation system running smoothly.

Our bodies are always in a state of battle. We are exposed to a constant assault of pathogens in the form of bacteria, toxins and viruses. Our immune system is always working, often unnoticed. TCM has a long history, dating back thousands of years, of promoting optimal health as preventative medicine. We have much to offer in supporting both physical and emotional wellbeing. It is imperative during these challenging times, to enhance our immune function and nurture our mental and emotional health.

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In times of stress, we trigger our Sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Our bodies then respond by moving blood away from our organs and to our defence system. This mechanism then weakens our immune function. 

We can promote our Parasympathetic (rest and digest) branch of our nervous system to be at play by engaging in breathing exercises and relaxation activities such as meditation, Qi gong or yoga.  Anything that makes us happy and content, such as watching a comedy, will also have the same effect.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offers both preventative care and support in recovery from illness. Following a consultation, a herbal prescription and/or acupuncture formula will be individually designed to enhance your immune function and manage symptoms if you are unwell. 

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