The Immune System in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Viral infection disease attacking cell abstract idea illustration.

“Our immune system is like a protective blanket that keeps the cold, excessive heat, wind and illness away.”


I like to believe that our immune system is like a protective blanket that keeps the cold, excessive heat, wind and illness away. In Chinese medicine when someone is healthy and happy we say they have good Qi, pronounced Chee, or energy. Qi has many different roles in our health and body. The different roles and abilities of this “magic” word called Qi can be divided into many things. Everything, every organ, element has its own Qi. But for the body and our immune system, these are the most important:

  1. Wei Qi
  2. Ying Qi
  3. Yuan Qi

There are diverse ways of describing what these Qi :

Wei Qi: is your outer defence mechanism or protective blanket and a large part of our immune system depends on a strong Wei Qi.

-Ying Qi: would be the energy we get from nutrition; needless to say good nutrition is essential for a good immune system.

-Yuan Qi: is a mix of energy that comes from the kidneys which activates the liquids and the essence of our blood; this keeps our healthy oxygenated circulation system running smoothly.

To maintain a healthy outer protective layer, our blanket, or Wei Qi, we have to look after many areas. For example what we eat and drink helps our Ying Qi, this in turn our defence mechanism. In TCM we like to suggest that foods that are in season should be the first on our shopping list. To manage autumn and winter foods such as, onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms should be on the menu. Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibiotic properties, if you like garlic you can work this into any meal. Ginger a powerful antihistamine and decongestant offers a great solution against cold symptoms. Cut some fresh root up and it to your dishes or boil it to make a cup of ginger tea with some added lemon and honey for a pleasant and healing hot drink. A blend of mushrooms, like shiitake, reishi, and maitake are great for strengthening the immune system.

Remember that also how we eat and who we share our food with, will affect how we digest our food not just from a nutritional perspective but also from an emotional one. Happy people have a strong Wei Qi.

Nothing new, our Wei Qi remains strong if we do some exercise; a nice brisk walk in fresh air is the simplest solution, this is good enough to open up our lungs feed it with oxygen which in turn will liven up a healthy circulation and blood system.

In essence, I like to say that a healthy body is one that is in a constant subtle movement, a balanced flow of the different Qi´s, from YIN to YANG from YANG to YIN in all the organs and throughout our body. All these little tips help us weave a strong Wei Qi blanket. A healthy defensive or immune system.

So next time someone says, “Don´t come near me, I have a cold “, You can say, “That’s, not a problem, I have a strong Wei Qi !”

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