Prevention the natural way
Viral infections: Prevention through strengthening the immune system with TCM
The current situation shows us once again how quickly a virus can spread. There is nothing new about this. It is also a well-known fact, proven by medical science, that the immune system plays an important part in protecting us against viruses. Preventive measures with Traditional Chinese Medicine can make a significant contribution to strengthening this protection.
Whenever viral infections such as the flu, common colds or respiratory diseases start to spread, people really realize the importance of the immune system. The extent of the risk of infection and becoming seriously ill depends largely on the body’s own defences. These can be weakened particularly as the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, stress, an unbalanced diet or lack of exercise. Other factors that may weaken the body's resistance are disorders of the metabolism, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes. Older people are more likely to be affected by weaknesses of the immune system, which becomes less effective with age. The important thing is to ensure that any medical care is targeted at the actual causes. Examples of these recognized by Traditional Chinese Medicine include health problems traceable to underlying infections that have never been fully cured.
Strengthening the immune system and the body’s defences with TCM
It is impossible to underestimate the importance of the immune system in providing resistance to viruses and bacteria. Strengthening the body’s natural defences is something that should always be at the forefront of our minds, not just when there is an increased risk of infection. In fact, as a method of effective prevention it should always be included as a component of health care. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the strengthening of the immune system is given very high priority. Specific therapies such as acupuncture, herbal therapies and a balanced diet target the mobilization of the body’s defences.
Blockages in the flow of Qi as a cause of illness
By contrast with classic medicine, TCM does not define health as a static condition somewhere on a scale from healthy to sick. Instead, it sees maintenance of the health of the human organism as a dynamic process which is permanently subjected to internal and external influences. Traditional Chinese Medicine therefore focusses consistently on these influencing factors as a matter of principle. The objective is to keep the forces that preserve health in balance and to protect the body from the many debilitating, or pathogenic, factors. These may include heat, damp, injury, hereditary predisposition, incorrect diet or stress. According to the science of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the pathogenic factors interrupt the free flow of the life energy Qi in the energy pathways, or meridians. This causes congestion and blockages which weaken the immune system. The consequence of this impairment of the defences is that dangerous viruses can enter the body unhindered.
Channelling pathogenic factors away and strengthening the Qi with TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the circulation of the life energy Qi as central to the prevention of viral illnesses such as colds, fever or the flu. When making a diagnosis, TCM identifies interruptions and blockages in the energy pathways and applies appropriate measures to tackle them. TCM has two objectives here: the first is to channel out the debilitating pathogenic factors and so remove the obstructions in the flow of Qi. The second aims to strengthen the Qi. In this way, TCM reduces the risk of contracting a viral illness and can significantly check its progress if it does. The methods used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are not comparable with treatment by medication, which often only tackles the symptoms of a condition.
Prevention with TCM as a regular health measure
Prevention is one of the main areas in which Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective. Its success is due in particular to the fact that prevention with TCM does not rely on one-off medical interventions. As the flow of the life energy Qi is constantly being obstructed by our often busy lifestyles, poor eating habits and environmental influences, regularly strengthening the Qi is an important measure to help us stay healthy. Repeatedly activating the flow of life energy combined with channelling out pathogenic factors by prevention and suitable TCM treatments keeps the immune system fit and stable and protects us against becoming infected by colds, flu and viral respiratory diseases, or suffering the worst effects if we do. To achieve a long-term effect, it therefore makes sense to take part in regular TCM consultations to appraise your state of health.
Early planning of TCM preventive treatments
In the effective prevention of flu, colds and viral respiratory diseases, Traditional Chinese Medicine applies methods that include acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion. People who are particularly vulnerable can even be treated in the summer. Ideally, those at risk will incorporate preventive TCM treatments along with other medical checks in their annual health planning. One important factor besides the actual TCM treatments is diet, which can be supplemented by taking natural Chinese remedies.
Your own tailored TCM preventive treatments
The therapists at TCM Chan will put together a specially tailored prevention plan for you to help keep colds and flu at bay. They will give you advice on questions of diet and recommend a suitable TCM therapy for any symptoms you may have. TCM treatments also help if the early signs of a cold or the flu are detected. In this case, it is usually necessary to extend the duration of the treatment. An initial consultation with a TCM Chan therapist will clarify the situation.
Dietary tips: Warmth helps strengthen your immune system
The influx of warmth plays an important part in maintaining the health of the body’s natural defences. Look out for warming, fortifying foods that meet this requirement and adapt your eating habits to your body’s need for warmth.
- Choose warming foods. These include onions, leeks, cabbage, red meat, pulses and nuts, cinnamon and ginger.
- Eat hot meals whenever possible or supplement every meal with warm foods and drinks. Breakfast too should always include a warm item.
- Avoid hot or heavily spiced dishes. If you sweat, you lose heat.
- Enjoy a cup of tea or warm water at intervals throughout the day. It’s an easy way to provide your body with warmth.
- Take care to follow a balanced diet. Fruit and vegetables strengthen the body’s defences.
- Eat regularly.
- Ginger and turmeric teas and fortifying soups are ideal sources of warmth.
Behavioural tips: What you can do to strengthen your immune system
- Maintaining a healthy immune system depends to a great extent on your personal lifestyle and behaviour. You do not have to do much to strengthen your natural defences and enhance your quality of life.
- A good night's sleep promotes the production of immune cells and increases vitality.
- A regular daily rhythm has a positive effect on your body.
- Regular exercise stimulates your natural defences. Extreme high-performance sport is counter-productive.
- Lowering stress helps protect your natural defences. Proven to help reduce stress are sporting activity, drinking calming tea, taking a warm bath and doing breathing exercises.
- Correctly adjusting air humidity prevents infections and protects your mucus membranes against dryness. At room temperatures of 20 to 22°C the ideal air humidity would be 50 to 60%.
- Making a conscious effort not to touch your face prevents the transmission of germs and allowing them to enter your body via the mucus membranes of your eyes and nose.
- Thoroughly washing your hands with soap is an effective measure against viral infections. Germs can settle on bannisters, light switches, door handles, lift buttons, gym equipment, etc. and easily get onto your hands. Washing your hands destroys them.
Good for the flow of Qi:
Ginger and turmeric tea
Drink ginger tea once a day. This is best prepared with fresh ingredients. To make 0.2 l:
- 10–20 g fresh root ginger*
- 10 g fresh turmeric* or ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ lemon*, a little ground black pepper
- to taste: ½ apple finely diced, honey
Peel the ginger root and turmeric, slice thinly and bring to the boil for 5–10 minutes. Pour the tea into a cup and allow to cool to drinking temperature. Add fresh lemon juice and pepper, and the pieces of apple and honey to taste. The ginger and turmeric can then be eaten or boiled again. The strength of the tea can be varied to taste. Basically, the more concentrated it is, the better.
* Depending on availability, the fresh ingredients can be substituted with pre-prepared juice concentrates as an alternative.