During the cold winter months, one of the most important things that we can do for maintaining health and longevity is to take necessary precautions for supporting our immune systems. By supporting our immune function we are supporting the aspect of our body dynamic that enables us to fight off disease and illness which will also help us to recover more effectively. The term for this function in Chinese Medicine is called ‘Wei Qi’ or protective qi. It is the quality that staves off infections and disease, and then fights off pathogens if they have breached our protective layers. This is important now more than ever, because not only do we have a natural tendency to develop more illnesses in the winter, but our current climate is generating an increasing amount of stress which directly inhibits our immune system. There are many ways this can be done with supplementation, exercise, and eating a well-rounded plant-based diet just to name a few.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be a wonderful adjuvant modalities in the support of immunity. The use of acupuncture itself helps to harmonize the body and balance our internal dynamics. It is useful for modulating our sympathetic nervous systems, which can directly benefit our immune systems. And it can also help to decrease pain and stress which also directly support immune function.
One of the tools acupuncturists use during immune-supportive treatments includes the use of moxibustion therapy. Moxa is an herb that is used topically and is very diverse in its function. One of the most common applications of moxa is that it is applied to certain acupuncture points and then burned to create a gentle warming sensation for the patient.
The point above, known as ‘Zu San Li’ is a point associated with the stomach channel and is commonly used in order to promote the production of Qi. This directly relates to the function of our immune system because we must have access to Qi in order to have robust Wei Qi. By appropriately applying moxa to this point during a treatment we are nourishing the Qi of the body and encouraging a natural development of Wi Qi. Moxa has a diverse array of other functions besides the nourishing of Qi and can be used to treat a variety of other presentations.
Image courtesy of https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Zusanli-ST-36-One-of-the-points-used-more-often-in-acupuncture-for-analgesia-is_fig3_26441285