7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Proven Tips to Strengthen Your Immune Response Quickly
We are living in unprecedented times with the outbreak of COVID-19, and its necessary restrictions to our normal way of life. As Americans, we all need to come together to respond to this pandemic with safe practices, cooperation, and calmness. As individuals, we are each called to do our best to keep ourselves healthy and prevent viral infection.
When it comes to preventing viruses, everyday precautions such as washing your hands often and avoiding sick people are key. There is no medical preventive treatment as of yet for COVID-19. But research suggests that boosting your immune system may give you an edge in staying healthy. During these challenging times, here are seven science-based steps you can take now.
- Get Acupuncture
With Wuhan, China, on lockdown for over 10 days, on 2/10/20 the Chinese government announced a major change in strategy: all patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections are to use Chinese medicine. This new strategy to integrate Chinese medicine with Western medicine in fighting the virus is based on the Wuhan and Hubei province hospitals’ clinical experience adding Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to their patients’ medical care over the prior couple of weeks. The Wuhan area patients recovered from COVID-19 and were discharged at a significantly higher rate, after adding acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment to their Western medicine protocol. Click here to learn more about how COVID-19 is currently treated in China with herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Based on the Chinese success record in getting over their peak COVID-19 outbreak quickly, adding acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to conventional medical treatment of COVID-19 here in the U.S. is the smart approach. Research shows that certain acupuncture points can boost immune response and increase resistance to infection. All patients can benefit from an increase in their immunity at this time. I have extensively researched the best acupuncture and herbal treatments for the Prevention Phase and Recovery Phase of this outbreak, and am ready to help boost your immune system.
From a Five Element acupuncture perspective, it is interesting to note that this coronavirus attacks the Lungs, which relate to the Metal Element. Metal, in turn, creates Water, which relates to the emotion of Fear. Fear is known to cause more stress, which in turn lowers immune response (see my further comments on stress or fear later in this article). Five Element acupuncture treats the root cause, which effectively balances stress and anxiety. The healthier your Metal is, the healthier your Water will be. Therefore, act prudently and keep your Lung energy strong with acupuncture and herbal medicine, which will help calm your fears during this crisis.
- Herbal Prevention
There is a proven track record of herbal medicine treating the 2003 SARS-coronavirus. Though distinct, COVID-19 resembles the 2003 SARS-coronavirus in many ways. The main ingredients of the Chinese herbal medicine used to fight COVID-19 in China appear to be helping, and are based on the evidence of the successful herbal treatment for the 2003 SARS-coronavirus pandemic. There are different herbal prescriptions for each of the four phases of COVID-19: Prevention, Early Infection, Pneumonia, and Recovery. In our U.S. medical system, these herbal treatments are applicable in the Prevention and Recovery Phases.
For patients with no symptoms of COVID-19 but at risk of developing moderate to severe symptoms should they be exposed, I recommend the Prevention herbal treatment. The main ingredients of the Prevention herbal protocol are found in the ancient Chinese herbal formula “Jade Windscreen”, which is available in my office and can be delivered. Jade Windscreen is our April Product Discount of the Month and is available at a 10% discount all month to all AHHC Newsletter subscribers.
- Supplement Smartly
There are other key supplements to boost your immune system. Everyone should be treated and dosed individually for these, but in general, I recommend the following:
I don’t recommend a daily intake of zinc unless you’re deficient, because it can become toxic.
- Stay Active
Staying home more and social distancing are smart precautions, but are not excuses to become a couch potato. A healthy lifestyle includes a good dose of physical activity. On warm weather days, get outside and bike, jog, or just stretch your legs.
Research suggests that exercise may directly contribute to virus-fighting, too. According to a recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, of 1,002 people surveyed, those who exercised at least five days a week had almost half the risk of coming down with a cold as those who were more sedentary. If they did get one, they reported less severe symptoms.
The proverbial saying, “Everything in moderation,” also applies to exercise. Doing non-impact aerobic exercise for 30-60 minutes, five times per week, is a healthy goal. This exercise should cause you to breath more heavily and achieve your target heart rate:
- Eating Healthy
A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables goes a long way toward creating better health. Now that restaurants are closed for dining in, regain control of your diet by preparing more home-cooked meals. When you shop, buy organic produce and meats as much as possible. Drink lots of water. Viruses thrive in dehydrated environments and don’t like it when you are well hydrated.
One of the healthiest diets to follow is the Mediterranean style of eating. It is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats found in foods such as fatty fish, nuts and olive oil. This diet is high in nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation and fight infection. It’s also important to limit meat, especially processed and fried foods, all of which are known to cause inflammation.
It is estimated that at least 70% of your immunity comes from your gut health. Avoid sugar, because sugar promotes the overgrowth of yeasts such as Candida albicans. Include fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir, in your daily diet. These fermented foods help build up the good (probiotic) bacteria in your gut, which in turn supports a healthy gut and immune system.
- Stress Less
There is a strong link between your mental well-being and your immune health. Research has found that people who are stressed are more susceptible to developing the common cold. In one study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 276 healthy adults were exposed to the cold virus, then monitored in quarantine for five days. Those who were stressed were more likely to produce cytokines (molecules that trigger inflammation) and were about twice as likely to get sick.
Stress is known to lower immune response. With the COVID-19 outbreak threatening your health and finances, it is natural to experience some stress. You should take appropriate steps to protect yourself and prevent harm, but do not let your fears define you. Now is an opportunity for you to rise above your fear, and choose a more positive expression in your life.
Become more aware of when you are stressed, and how to manage your stress. Take personal time each day to meditate, read, exercise, or do whatever relaxes you and helps you think more positively. For more information on managing your stress, please see my blog on Self-Care Tips.
- Sleep Well
Sleep helps your immune system naturally reboot itself, like pressing restart on your computer. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body churns out stress hormones like cortisol to keep you awake and alert. These hormones can suppress your immune system. Research such as this study shows that getting at least seven hours of solid sleep gives your immune system a needed boost.
Create good sleep habits and hygiene by getting to bed around the same reasonable hour each night. Avoid screen time within an hour of bedtime and empty your mind of any worries. You may find that mindful meditation or prayer can calm your mind as you prepare for a good night’s rest. If you need help falling or staying asleep, our practice offers a variety of effective all-natural sleep supplements, based on your individual needs.
Following these seven smart steps now can really boost your immunity and resistance against infection. During this crisis, we are here for your health at the Acupuncture & Holistic Health Center in Jacksonville to treat you when medically necessary, following CDC guidelines, and to ship your supplements to you if you are unable to come in. If you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms so far, you are in the Prevention Phase. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help boost your immune system to increase your protection and help your body fight pathogens it comes into contact with. Call today to ask about scheduling an appointment at (904) 296-9545, or if you have any other questions.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect you are infected, our prayers are with you. Although you cannot come in for acupuncture treatment until you test negative, you can still benefit from following the other six steps listed above. If you are uncertain of your status or choose to self-quarantine, I am available for phone consultations and can help you to customize an effective all-natural immune-boosting treatment plan.