Natural Treatments for Low Immune Function
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
THE HUMAN BODY HAS EVOLVED an amazing mechanism for protecting you against external pathogens and self-inflicted harm. Under normal conditions, the immune system is called upon to combat an invader only when it’s needed. It’s like the National Guard coming to the rescue during times of grave danger - whether it’s a threat from the outside or a disaster on the inside. Unfortunately, as a result of the increasing stress, inadequate nutrition, environmental toxins, and lack of exercise that characterize our modern lifestyle, the immune system is always on high alert. And just like the guardsmen, after constant and prolonged battle, the immune system gets fatigued and burned out. At this point, two troubling scenarios can occur. In some people, the immune system becomes overwhelmed and loses its ability to distinguish between the body and a foreign organism. It begins attacking organs, tissues, and cells, giving rise to such autoimmune conditions as lupus, arthritis, or asthma. In the second scenario, the immune system capitulates and become too weak to respond in sufficient force to an invading substance or organism, leaving you vulnerable to infections and disease.
In Chinese medicine, immunity relies on several key factors. The kidney essence or vitality serves as the source of all energy in the body and supplies the necessary fuel for all metabolic functions. The spleen-pancreas-stomach network or the digestive system is responsible for absorption and distribution of vital nutrients in the body. The lungs govern the defensive energy and are responsible for protecting you from external pathogens. The liver manages neurological responses and promotes flow of energy. These organs must work in unison for the body’s immunity to function properly. An unhealthy lifestyle can damage the kidney essence, and a poor diet combined with stress and emotional turmoil can injure the digestive and absorption system. Chronic infections and inflammation injure the energy reserves of the body, as in the HIV virus. These factors combine to create the complex condition of low immune function.
The most common immune-deficiency condition I see involves chronic fatigue syndrome, which is typically the result of chronic viral infections that leave the patient with weakened immunity. I’ve worked with immunologists to pinpoint the specific cause of the low immune function, and the majority of our immune-deficiency patients have returned to their normal activities after undergoing acupuncture and herbal therapies, immune-boosting dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and mind-body exercises. Prolonged immune deficiency can lead to cancer and other degenerative diseases. In some cases, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy may be needed to maintain basic immune function. Always consult your physician and ask to be monitored if you learn that you have low immune function.
DIET FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
HOME REMEDIES FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
HERBAL THERAPY FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation. To learn more about the herbs listed here, go to www.askdrmao.com.
EXERCISE FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
Exercise is essential for maintaining immune function, not to mention its contributions to general wellness, mental clarity, and stress reduction. I recommend a daily 30-minute cardiovascular exercise combined with stretching and flexibility training. I’ve also advised many of my patients to learn immune-balancing meditation, tai chi, and qi gong exercises.
The Self-Healing Qi Gong exercise is simple and helps strengthen the body, support the vital organs, support healthy immunity, and balance the hormonal functions. It consists of five practices, one for each organ network. Below are directions for the Hungry Tiger Lung Network Qi Gong, which targets the lungs and supports immune function.
Practice this exercise daily.
SELF ACUPRESSURE FOR LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION
Regular stimulation of these points helps strengthen the body’s resistance to stress, enhances immunity, and strengthens the vital organs.
The Chinese therapeutic massage Tui Na is makes an excellent addition to a treatment protocol. Ask your acupuncturist for a recommendation.
LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION: WHAT TO AVOID
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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