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7 Tips to Enhance Your Immune System

7 Tips to Enhance Your Immune System

While many of you are being asked to keep physical distance and to maintain good hygiene and hand washing in order to slow the spread of Covid-19 virus, less is said about how you can support your immune system to better protect yourself. The immune system is the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your immune system and to maintain health and wellness during these difficult times.

Exercise
There is evidence that in the hours following exercise, there is a heightened state of the immune system and that regular exercise slows aging of the immune system. Exercise decreases your chances of developing heart disease (one of the high risk factors for serious illness from Covid-19 virus). Many of you are staying at home to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and gyms are closed, but there are many ways to exercise in the confines of your home. There are many online classes you can search for, such as yoga classes, warm up routines, and cardio. You can do sit ups, push ups, and jumping jacks Get outside for a walk when you can.

Sleep
So much of your immune system comes from the sleep you get. It is recommended you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Aspects of your emotional health come from REM sleep (the part of sleep where you dream). Some medications, alcohol and marijuana use can cause sleep disturbances. Long term lack of sleep can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Good sleep hygiene can help increase your likelihood of having a great night’s sleep.

Sunlight
From one perspective, everyone, everything is trying to consume the sun. Through exposure to sunlight, your body makes vitamin D, which has been linked to a strong immune system, and to respiratory health. A little bit of sunlight goes a long way. Get out in the sun when you can.

Gut Health
Much of your immune system comes from the gut flora and gut health. Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee, and tempeh provide good bacteria to your digestive system.

Eat Vegetables & Fruit
You get essential vitamins, nutrients, and phytonutrients from food. Garlic, ginger, citrus, bell peppers, broccoli, turmeric, blueberries are all nutrient dense foods that will help you maintain your gut health and a healthy immune system.

Herbal Supplements
Vitamin C and zinc are two supplements that can help keep your immune system healthy and strong. Foods high in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, some vegetables, and dark chocolate. Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to support the immune system and to have anticancer immunological effects in particular. I recommend these companies for purchasing potent mushroom blends to support immunity.

Reduce Stress
Finding a source of strength in the face of the unknown is challenging in the best of times. It is natural to feel a variety of intense emotions during this unsettling time, including fear, anger, anxiety, worry, and grief. Stress causes your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) to activate, so utilizing techniques to calm the nervous system and convert to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) is a vital aspect for stress reduction. Now is the time to add stress reduction techniques into your daily routine: yoga, Qigong, meditation and breathing exercises help you manage stress and can give your mind a break. There are free apps that have guided meditations such as Insight Timer, among others.

Now is the time to incorporate these changes into your life to support your immune system and to enhance your preventive care. For an individualized approach to identifying your specific needs and to devise a personal health plan for enhancing your immune system, contact me for a free consultation or for telehealth consultations.

Sandy Camper, M.Ac., L.Ac.
Diplomate in Acupuncture
Camper.acupuncture@gmail.com

In the beginning….

Like many people, I came to acupuncture searching for pain relief.  As a trained scientist, my curiosity about how acupuncture worked was sparked when an excruciating upper back injury was relieved after only two treatments.  Years later, seeing several specialists in two different fields for two “unrelated” symptoms, I saw an acupuncturist for one of the conditions and was stunned when she pulled out a chart showing where the meridians (pathways of energy) flow and told me that my “unrelated” symptoms both had the same root imbalance, and would both improve with the treatment for one disharmony.  This took longer than two treatments, but it gave me enormous satisfaction to find someone who was holding a larger perspective on my health, and could make sense out of symptoms showing up in the seemingly disparate areas of gynecology and ophthalmology.  This is an example of what I came to love about the holistic approach of Chinese Medicine.

 

Typically, patients will often come to see me with a particular symptom that is speaking loudly enough in a negative way to their wellbeing that they can no longer ignore it. By looking at that symptom in the context of the patient’s whole life, what emerges is an ecological perspective that includes their relationship to their beliefs, emotions, thoughts, to the functioning of all the other organs and systems, and to their relationships, as well as to their environment as a whole.  My objective is to see changes in the symptom: increased range of motion, decrease in pain, enhanced functioning of other organs, improved digestion, better bowel function, deeper sleep, a greater sense of calm, ease and enriched relationships. For example, one patient who came to me with “tennis elbow” revealed during the intake interview that her sister was dying from cancer, and that this caused her great grief.  The area of her elbow she traced out as painful was the meridian whose emotional component is associated with value, loss and grief. We talked about this and she found over time that when she allowed herself to experience the grief, her elbow pain diminished.  It is this richness and depth that give Chinese medicine such beauty as a therapeutic tool.

 

Practicing a healing modality that is one of the oldest, continuously practiced healing systems in the world, dating back several thousand years and yet is also entirely applicable to our current, chronic, more stress-related ailments reflects on the depth and breadth of Chinese medicine.  My approach is to look for a root imbalance, causing a symptom to manifest, which may dictate treating a wide variety of conditions, from pain related issues (arthritis, musculoskeletal, headaches, etc.) to disharmony in organs (digestive, bowel, respiratory, cardiac and urinary) to reproductive (endometriosis, PCOS, hot flashes) and mental health issues (anxiety and depression).  Having a family member with macular degeneration, I have a particular interest in using acupuncture to treat eye diseases.

 

Chinese medicine is replete with nature metaphors.  People in the Berkshires can easily relate to the feeling of the seasonal energies such as the need to turn inwards in the winter, be reflective and cultivate potential, and the urge, even impatience, to start new projects in the spring that we begin to feel in February and March.  It is enormously gratifying to be practicing in an area with four real seasons where most people have a deep appreciation for and interest in living in nature.  I love what I do and am so gratified to have the opportunity to offer people help for conditions that have not responded to, or unable to be diagnosed by, Western medicine.

What Brought Me To Acupuncture? Pain Relief.

Like many people, I came to acupuncture searching for pain relief. As a trained scientist, my curiosity about how acupuncture worked was sparked when an excruciating upper back injury was relieved after only two treatments. Years later, seeing several specialists in two different fields for two “unrelated” symptoms, I saw an acupuncturist for one of the conditions and was stunned when she pulled out a chart showing where the channels (pathways of energy) flow and told me that my “unrelated” symptoms both had the same root imbalance, and would both improve with the treatment for one disharmony. This took longer than two treatments, but it gave me enormous satisfaction to find someone who was holding a larger perspective on my health, and could make sense out of symptoms showing up in the seemingly disparate areas of gynecology and ophthalmology. This is an example of what I came to love about the holistic approach of Chinese Medicine.

 

Typically, patients will often come to see me with a particular symptom that is speaking loudly enough in a negative way to their wellbeing that they can no longer ignore it. By looking at that symptom in the context of the patient’s whole life, what emerges is an ecological perspective that includes their relationship to their beliefs, emotions, thoughts, to the functioning of all the other organs and systems, and to their relationships, as well as to their environment as a whole. My objective is to see changes in the symptom: increased range of motion, decrease in pain, enhanced functioning of other organs, improved digestion, better bowel function, deeper sleep, a greater sense of calm, ease and enriched relationships. For example, one patient who came to me with “tennis elbow” revealed during the intake interview that her sister was dying from cancer, and that this caused her great grief. The area of her elbow she traced out as painful was the meridian whose emotional component is associated with value, loss and grief. We talked about this and she found over time that when she allowed herself to experience the grief, her elbow pain diminished. It is this richness and depth that give Chinese medicine such beauty as a therapeutic tool.

 

Practicing a healing modality that is one of the oldest, continuously practiced healing systems in the world, dating back several thousand years and yet is also entirely applicable to our current, chronic, more stress-related ailments reflects on the depth and breadth of Chinese medicine. My approach is to look for a root imbalance, causing a symptom to manifest, which may dictate treating a wide variety of conditions, from pain related issues (arthritis, musculoskeletal, headaches, etc.) to disharmony in organs (digestive, bowel, respiratory, cardiac and urinary) to reproductive (endometriosis, PCOS, hot flashes) and mental health issues (anxiety and depression). Having a family member with macular degeneration, I have a particular interest in using acupuncture to treat eye diseases.

 

Chinese medicine is replete with nature metaphors. People in the Berkshires can easily relate to the feeling of the seasonal energies such as the need to turn inwards in the winter, be reflective and cultivate potential, and the urge, even impatience, to start new projects in the spring that we begin to feel in February and March. It is enormously gratifying to be practicing in an area with four real seasons where most people have a deep appreciation for and interest in living in nature. I love what I do and am so gratified to have the opportunity to offer people help for conditions that have not responded to, or unable to be diagnosed by, Western medicine.