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Immunity according to Traditional Chinese Medicine
From adaptogens to acupuncture, we delve into the ancient remedies that have been boosting immunity for centuries.
Combining scientific research with learnings from Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine makes up the foundations of The Nue Co., and as such we formulated DEFENCE DROPS and ENERGY FOOD using tried and tested ingredients from the ages-old practise of Traditional Chinese Medicine. But how does TCM work and what remedies are suggested for immunity specifically?
Everything starts with qi
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which dates back thousands of years, qi—pronounced “chee”—refers to someone’s ‘life force’ or ‘energy flow’, and is fundamental to all aspects of health and wellbeing. Any imbalance to qi is believed to cause disease and illness.
Our immune system is a complex web of cells throughout our body which comprises two main parts; our innate immune system of first responders which immediately protect us against potential infection via protective barriers like mucus and stomach acid; and our adaptive immune system, which develops an antibody response to fight now and in future. It is thought that components of both innate and adaptive immunity can be improved by application of TCMs.
There are various forms of qi that relate to different organs and areas of the body, but the one most prevalant to immunity is known as Wei Qi. This refers to the outer defense mechanism, or protective layer of energy on the skin which defends against external pathogens and regulates body temperature, giving it an integral role in fighting of cold and flu. It is believed that stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition weaken the strength of the body’s Wei Qi.
Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years and has recently become the focus for numerous studies exploring its immunoregulatory properties. Known as Huáng Qí in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is one of the fifty fundamental herbs used in the medicine practice. Astragalus is believed to stimulate and increase the immune system, in addition to combatting fatigue.
Schisandra berry, which we use alongside astragalus in DEFENCE DROPS, has been used as a source of medicine throughout China for thousands of years. Its most powerful benefit is as an adaptogen, meaning it helps to alter the body’s response to external stressors and anxiety through balancing the production of cortisol—our “fight or flight” hormone.
Cordyceps and Turkey Tail mushrooms are also a key remedy for immunity, helping to boost natural killer (NK) cells while also encouraging helper T-cells, giving them anti-tumor properties.
One study states that “More and more research has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and antistress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects.” There is evidence that regular acupuncture treatments can stimulate the production of T-cells, increasing the body’s resilience to infection.
Gua Sha is also often used in TCM to stimulate circulation by scraping a tool over the skin, applying pressure to increase blood flow, like our stainless steel hypoallergenic THE TOOL. Applied to the back of the neck, upper shoulders and mid-back, Gua Sha helps the lymphatic system to drain, assisting in decongestion and reducing fever. One study found that Gua Sha increased pro-inflammatory and decreased immunosuppressive cytokines, ultimately boosting the innate and adaptive immune functions on the skin.