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An Acupuncturist’s Take on Acupuncture and Immunity

This paragraph from this article* by Liang et al. summarises my understanding of acupuncture and it’s possible effect on immunity.

“The characteristic that acupuncture enhances resistance is closely related with the immune system, which functions in defense, homeostasis, and surveillance. 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. This may be the basis of acupuncture in preventing and treating later diseases.”*

With Autmn/Winter setting in with the cooler weather, there will be a higher chance of people falling sick.

In Chinese medicine, there is a model for diagnosis that uses the analogy of a defensive wall the describe how we get sick and the severity.

The “defensive soldiers” reflect our immune system and the “offensive soldiers” reflect external pathogens.

So stating the obvious, if we have greater defense then this will prevent us from getting sick.

The tricky part is that not everyone’s defensive/immune strength is always at maximum strength, which suggest there is a lack of homeotstasis (balance) or poor surveillance.  Various sources of stress, poor diet, poor sleep and lifestyle may weaken the strength, balance or surveillance abilities of our immune system.

If we say that we have limited amount of resources in our body to allow all the bodily functions to be performed and more of it is being allocated to deal with stressful factors then some of it may be taken away from the immune system, I.e. less defensive soldiers, or less surveillance and hence a possibility of being overwhelmed by external pathogens causing us to be sick.

Through acupuncture and herbal medicine, there are protocols to help “expel” these pathogens and “reinforce” the defensive forces.

Generally, a lot of the acupuncture and herbal techniques involve trying to induce a sweat by warming up the body to expel these pathogens. This method is not only found in Chinese culture but throughout history.

Reinforcing refers to supplying the defensive soldiers with rest and food to increase their strength to prevent the pathogen making us more sick or falling sick again.

From a western medical approach, warming has an effect of increasing circulation. If immunity related cells have a limited number patrolling the body, speeding up the circulation will increase the chances of encountering (surveillance) pathogens and then responding accordingly.

Developing a fever is the body’s internal response in attempt to force the external pathogens out of our body by raising the temperature.

So going back to the change in weather, we tend to not notice and adjust appropriately with how we are dressed, the way we eat, sleep or work and this may be enough to catch us off guard then catching a cold 🤷‍♂️

I believe that the strength of Chinese medicine is in prevention. To help improve the immune system to reduce the chances of getting sick, why not give acupuncture a go?

Author: Kieren Ko

Kieren is an Acupuncturist at Health Space Kings Cross with a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (UTS).

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