TCM For Immune System Health and COVID-19 Symptoms

The Body’s Two Immune Systems

The question is simple: Do we really understand the immune system and how to enhance it? One immune system is inherited or innate, the other is adaptive. These two immune systems are the key players in dealing with COVID-19 prevention or treatment. So how can we boost both the innate and the adaptive immune systems to best deal with COVID-19? This is where TCM can be a major player in complementing Western medicine’s approach to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The concepts and theory behind TCM’s understanding of the immune system uniquely positions practitioners to enhance immunity. TCM views the immune system response as being based on organ function. The respiratory and digestive systems’ major organs are connected energetically to and provide support for the body’s defense lines. So the stronger the organ systems’ functioning, the better the immune system’s response to pathogens.

Two Lines of Defense

The inherited—or innate—immune system corresponds to the first two lines of defense in the body. An energy field called “defensive Qi” provides support to the first line of defense in the nose, throat, mouth and skin. The respiratory system (Lung) creates this defensive Qi field, which provides a natural barrier to pathogens. Tears, mucus and saliva are also part of and circulated by this first line of defense. These body fluids are produced by different organs including those from the respiratory and the digestive systems (Stomach and Spleen). The second line of defense, composed of phagocytes—non-specific white blood cells that destroy pathogens—are also circulated by defensive Qi. As long as the innate immune system remains strong, viruses cannot get past these first lines of defense.

If viruses do get through and infect the body’s cells, their number is low enough that the adaptive immune system can readily handle them. The adaptive immune system is composed of virus-specific B-cells and T-cells. It is dependent upon bone marrow, which is energetically connected to the Kidney. For strong antibody and T-cell response, the Kidney organ must function at a high level.

Boosting Organ Function

This unique view of immunology brings an entirely different perspective and approach to dealing with viruses such as COVID-19. These concepts are key to understanding how TCM can truly complement Western medicine in the fight against COVID-19, as it brings into play an entirely different understanding of how to effectively enhance immune system function.

TCM’s perspective also helps us to understand why some unvaccinated individuals are able to tap into their natural immunity and not get sick, while other individuals, vaccinated or not, still get sick from COVID-19 (original strain and variants). The innate and the adaptive immune system’s strength can only be based on your own body. If the functioning of all key organs is compromised, the “door” is essentially left open to unwanted visitors. Not only could a significant amount of virus get past the inherited immune system, but also the adaptive immune system will have a delayed or inadequate response, allowing infection to set in.

Acupuncturists have long known how to enhance our natural immunity using a function-based approach to strengthening the relevant organ systems. By using acupuncture, herbs and self-care tools such as breathwork, meditation, Qigong and acupressure, one can boost organ function to directly impact both inherited and adaptive immune system response.

Mind-Body-Spirit Affects Health

TCM understands that mind-body-spirit affects health. This asks us to look at the patient as a whole being and ask the following questions: Who are they? What are they? Certain emotional or physical conditions are understood to be related to different organ systems. An understanding of who the patient is and what their life is like (lifestyle, emotions, and habits) gives us clues as to which organs need the most support.

Lastly, TCM has long honored the unique relationship between patient and practitioner. In our world of fast-paced medicine and overburdened healthcare resources, nurturing this relationship has become more important than ever. Creating a relationship of trust between patient and practitioner—one based on face-to-face time, listening and acknowledgment of the patient as an individual—can make all the difference when it comes to improved treatment outcome and patient compliance. As a result, what the practitioner teaches the patient to do for self-care and prevention can make a notable difference in maintaining health and wellness.

As the pandemic continues and the short-term effects of various vaccines becomes more apparent, it seems likely that COVID-19 is here to stay. It also may not be feasible for every person to get multiple vaccine shots on an annual basis. Why not rely on something more powerful and intelligent—our body’s natural defenses? TCM offers a true complementary answer to best enhance our natural immune system to deal with any virus that comes our way.

Learn More!

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