Following on from this article, here are practical and effective methods for improving your immunity (wei qi). This will put you in a much more favourable position to ward off any viral invasion.
The main focus should be on building and conserving Kidney Yang and Stomach Fluids.
• Ensure deep hydration. This comes from wet-cooked foods, not just water and definitely not from juices or caffeinated products.
• Eat wet breakfasts, like congee and porridges
• Eat soups, stews, casseroles, broths.
• Include saturated fat in the diet (eggs, butter, fish, animal fat).
• Go to bed early. Conserves Kidney Yang which fuels digestion.
• Consume dehydrating foods such as - coffee, chocolate, hot spices, garlic, onion, sugar and alcohol and all carbonated (fizzy) fluids.
• Consume foods that cause inflammation (GM modified foods, pesticides and known allergens).
• Distract yourself whilst eating such as reading the news, being preoccupied with stressful thoughts. "Rest to digest".
Next article is about foods for boosting immunity (wei qi), here
Wet breakfast to boost immunity (wei qi). Millet congee with spring onions, ginger and tamari with an egg.
Infusion of dried citrus peel, ginger, fennel seeds and organic raw honey
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
It is well known that foods can either cause harm or benefit. Chinese medicine has a sophisticated understanding of the effects of foods on our body. When food is consumed in higher quantities or very frequently it either becomes a therapy or a poison.
Following on from this article, we now examine how to use foods to enhance your immunity through building wei qi.
Brief lifestyle recommendations
Brief dietary therapy recommendations
A tea / infusion to support a weak digestion
Steep the following in a mug of boiled water...
Best consumed before meals.
Ginger warms the Stomach and protects the lungs from phlegm. Citrus peel helps to handle phlegm and keeps breathing open. Honey supports the aspect of digestion called transformation in Chinese medicine.
Coming up is an explanation why these lifestyle and dietary measures are so effective at boosting your immunity through supporting wei qi.
During an outbreak of a contagious sickness, whether seasonal, epidemic or pandemic, there are some folks who succumb and others who do not.
Is it simply the luck of the draw?
Are we to sit by and just hope for the best?
Most of the current world medicine is focussed, crucially, on slowing the spread of covid-19 and dealing with emergencies and saving lives.
So what can we, as individuals and families, do about improving our chances?
Thankfully Classical Chinese medicine can significantly boost the odds.
The most important factor in building immune resilience is called Wei Qi (pronounced way chee).
What is wei qi?
Wei qi is not a form of martial arts. It is a term that encompasses the immune system as we know it and so much more.
Chinese medicine is based upon a different world view (paradigm) of life and so it has its own language. Whilst there are many crossover of ideas betweens Western and Eastern medicine, it’s not exact like for like. There are definite strengths and limitations to both. So when we first hear terms such as wei qi, like everything new, it may sound unfamiliar. Yet Chinese medicine is about the feel and experience of life processes which is actually rather intuitive. It speaks very directly to an inner knowing that each of us has.
What does wei qi do?
Let’s now look at how wei qi functions to protect us against external pathogens.
What is a pathogen?
It is a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new coronavirus, have made the jump to humans. Most cause symptoms of the common cold.
The current coronavirus, Covid-19, is closely related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which swept around the world in 2002-2003, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012-2013. This virus can cause upper respiratory tract respiratory symptoms that are more severe and in some people can be lethal.
We are exposed to pathogens every day, yet our bodies have an incredible capacity for effectively dealing with many kinds of potential threats.
If this is the case then why do we get sick at all?
Is there anything we can do to improve our chances of preventing or overcoming this illness?
The answer is a resounding YES!
It’s all to do with wei qi.
How exactly does wei qi protect you against pathogens?
One of the major roles of wei qi is to defend our body against invasion by external pathogens.
No matter what the external pathogen, the body reacts to preserve life by activating wei-defensive qi (the immune system). Wei Qi also governs the musculature and therefore allows us to react against the threat by moving away or tightening up to prevent the problem going deeper.
There now follows a detailed, yet intuitive, description of the dynamic that occurs when we first encounter a virus. It illustrates the incredibly sophisticated understanding of Chinese medicine for how the body responds to external pathogens. In fact an entire school of Chinese medicine, called the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders), is devoted to the study and resolution of this process alone.
The two major components behind the production of wei qi are
How does your body respond to pathogens?
Wei qi conducts a highly complex, co-ordinated, whole body response when we first come into contact with a pathogen.
An invasion by an external pathogen, such as a virus, is heralded by Wind and the virus itself is classified as Cold in nature. This is why we feel sensitive to drafts and want to wrap up when we first contract a cold (viral invasion). We often say “I’ve caught a cold” which reflects how we experience and respond to it.
Upon contact with the virus, the body will tighten up a set of acupuncture channels called the Sinews, along the upper back and neck (called TaiYang) and also generates a sneeze reflex. This tightening of the muscles and the extremely forceful sneeze reaction is aimed at pushing the pathogen out of the body.
One of the social norms is to suppress a sneeze. This isn’t helpful. If possible try giving a warning to others before sneezing but don’t suppress it.
The role of Kidney Yang
The power that is summoned up to sneeze comes from a major component of wei qi, called yang Qi, which comes from the Kidneys. This roughly correlates with the adrenal glands, and the hormone it release called, adrenaline. More about this later.
If the power of the sneeze does not effectively get rid of the pathogen, the nose will begin to run as mucus is generated to move the pathogen out. Concurrently wei qi gets the body to produce a sweat to further push out the pathogen.
The fluids that make up mucus and sweat come from the metabolism of the food and drinks in the Stomach. This fluid that is made by the Stomach is another major factor in the creation of wei-defensive qi.
If these initial measures fail then a fever is generated to burn up the pathogen. If the body cannot generate a fever that’s high enough, or if the body cannot generate a fever in the first place, then another set of channels, called the divergent channels take over. These channels attempt to shift the pathogen to the joints where it can sit relatively quietly as the body acquires the resources to push it all the way out at a later time.
All external viral pathogens, including the coronavirus will, elicit this reaction.
Incidentally it is observed that children are far less likely to succumb to the virus. This is because most children are naturally abundant in Kidney Yang Qi compared to adults.
What happens if the pathogen is stronger than your body’s wei qi?
If the strength of a pathogen exceeds the strength of wei qi then it can penetrate deeper into the body. So if wei qi is very weak and the pathogen is particularly strong, a person can go from being apparently well to death in a matter of days. Sadly the overwhelming majority of the reported deaths during this time occur those with underlying sickness and thus poor immunity (wei qi).
So it is crucial to enhance and maintain our wei qi, particularly during these times.
How can you increase and maintain adequate wei qi?
The foundations of Wei Qi are composed of two things
The warming, and moving Qi (Kidney Yang) functions to break up the Cold and to move it out of the body. Part of this response is mediated by Kidney Yang through tightening, of the upper back and neck, giving the propulsive force behind the sneezing reflex.
Concurrently, the body moves some of the fluids, that comes from the Stomach (from the metabolism of food and drink) to use for creating sweat to push the pathogen out. The opening the pores of the skin, regulated by the diffusing capacity of the Lungs, also assists with this.
In our current society there is over taxing of the Kidney Yang and Stomach Fluids. The culture of overstressed, overwork, little sleep, and poor food choices severe challenge these resources. Thus there are many whose wei qi is suboptimal even though they may not be classed as in the vulnerable group.
Now that we understand the importance of Wei Qi in maintaining resilience and immunity, let’s now go on to explore practical ways to enhance it, click here
During these unprecedented times we are being asked to self-isolate, keep social distancing, and observe stringent hygiene. These are all very important and effective measures to prevent the spread of covid-19. In this series of articles I would like to focus on how we can reduce our chances of contracting the virus, and if we do how we can significantly improve our chances of making a full recovery.
My name is Dr Hung D Tran and I have been in the study and practice of medicine both Western and Chinese for over twenty years. Having experienced the power of these medicines in my recovery from poliovirus when I was 6 months old has had a deep impact on my chosen career path. My view is that there is no better or worse type of medicine so long as the underlying disease mechanism is clearly understood and appropriate treatment given at the right time.
The strength of Western medicine is in harnessing technology and pharmaceutical interventions to deal with medical emergencies and life threatening illnesses. The strength of Chinese medicine is built upon a very coherent and sophisticated appreciation of how all parts of the human body work together to sustain life and it’s innate ability to heal itself. This is the most compelling force of human life.
These articles shall focus on the strength of Chinese medicine in self care with particular emphasis on the prevention and / or recovery from the current epidemic and beyond.
Chinese medicine has been continuously practiced and refined for over 3500 years. During this time it has seen a plethora of sicknesses in war and peace, famine and epidemics. So it contains a rich and vast body of recorded material and teachings that modern physicians continue to draw from and adapt to meet contemporary health issues. It’s main emphasis is on prevention of sickness and in empowering the individual to take care of themselves.
The healing methods of Chinese medicine include food therapy, qigong (chee kung) exercises, meditation, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine. The principles that underpin all these therapies harness the power of nature. A balance in all aspects of our life ensures we live in harmony with all things. An imbalance creates tension in the system and if not corrected then illness ensues.
Implicit to this medicine is prevention through taking personal responsibility for maintaining our health and wellbeing. Maintaining one’s health isn’t an end point but a continual personal endeavour. It places importance on prevention through living in balance and harmony with oneself and one’s environment. When these principles are understood and applied it becomes a very potent form of self healing.
Let’s now explore effective methods of self care for improving our resilience and / or recovery from covid-19. The key is supporting our wei qi - the force behind a strong and healthy immune function. We will explore how to improve our wei qi in the following articles :
Read all about Wei Qi here