Acupuncture and Other Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System

With cold and flu season still in full swing and the now the threat of the Coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to keep good hygiene practices and maintain a strong and healthy immune system.

Don’t spread germs.

According to the CDC website, here are some preventative actions to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

    A strong immune system can be the best defense.

    Maintaining a strong immune system can be your best defense against illness.  Here are some natural ways to give your immune system a healthy boost:

  • Manage your stress.  Stress can cause your body to release stress hormones like cortisol, which can lower your body’s natural ability to fight off those nasty bugs. Some good ways to manage stress are meditation, deep abdominal breathing, yoga, and moderate exercise.
  • Get plenty of rest. According to the Mayo Clinic website, people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables will give you many of the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy immune system, such as vitamins A, C, and E.  Avoid processed foods, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, soda, and too much alcohol. These can all weaken the immune system and contribute to other ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Improve your gut health. Much of your immune system resides in your gut.  By replenishing the healthy bacteria in your gut, you improve your gut health and strengthen your immune system. Taking a daily probiotic and/or eating foods high in probiotics is a great way to replenish the healthy flora of your digestive system.  Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, and kombucha are all great sources of probiotics.
  • Try antimicrobial herbs and spices. Many herbs and spices have immune boosting properties.  Herbs have been used for centuries by many cultures to help fight germs and strengthen the immune defense.  Incorporating more of these into your diet or supplement regimen can be a natural way to fight germs that cause illnesses.  Some of these include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, elderberry, astragalus, andrographis, and echinacea.
  • Get acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture is an effective way to stimulate the body’s natural immune response. The National Institute of Health conducted a study that showed that acupuncture increases the body’s production of T cells.  A T cell is a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in tailoring the body’s response to specific antigens.  By increasing T cell activity in the body, acupuncture can strengthen the body’s ability to fight invaders, like the cold and flu viruses.  Therefore, getting regular acupuncture is a great way to maintain a strong and healthy immune system.

By Angie Ng, L.Ac.