Easy ways to support your immune health - tips from Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been around for thousands of years, and uses herbal medicines to promote good health, including the health of the immune system. Here's an easy three-phase approach to follow that integrates traditional approaches from both Chinese and Western herbal medicine to support immune system health.
1. Support your resistance
Strengthen your body’s resistance against minor infections with immunity supporting Chinese herbs. Astragalus is one of the most important immune herbs in TCM, where it’s traditionally used to reduce the frequency of colds and flu. It’s also traditionally taken in TCM to enhance immune defences.
2. Relieve cold and flu symptoms
If a common cold or flu hits, consider andrographis to reduce symptoms of common colds and flu including cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat, tiredness and disturbed sleep. Traditionally used in western herbal medicine, echinacea supports the immune system when fighting illnesses like common cold symptoms and decreases the duration of common colds.
3. Address cough and support healthy lung function
If your cold turns into a cough, the herbs white horehound may be beneficial; it’s traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to help relieve dry coughs.
Consider supplementing this with Chinese licorice, traditionally used to relieve coughs and clear phlegm in Chinese medicine.
Other easy ways to support your immune system:
- According to TCM, spicy, warming and pungent foods are helpful for supporting the immune system, so make liberal use of garlic, onions, radishes, cinnamon, pepper, ginger and chilli
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet including fruit and vegetables, and healthy sources of protein, fat and carbohydrates
- Keep out of the wind - in TCM it's believed that the immune system is impacted by exposure to windy weather, so stay inside on windy days or keep yourself warm with appropriate clothing if you're going out
- Manage your stress! From the perspective of TCM, regular activity is absolutely vital, and qigong or tai chi are good choices, as well as meditation or yoga. Talk to a friend or a counsellor if you need support, too
- Get plenty of rest and a good night's sleep
- Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of minor infections and don't touch your face for the same reason
- Keep your distance from others if you have a mild respiratory tract infection and sneeze into your elbow to prevent the spread of infectious droplets
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your healthcare professional.