Strengthen your Wei Qi for better immunity
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is thought of as its own microsystem, or more specifically its own “kingdom.” In the kingdom, every organ has a role and an assigned function. The Heart as the Ruler, the Lung as the Chancellor for regulation, the Liver as the General for planning and deliberation, and so forth.
Wei Qi, The Body’s Protective Shield
In Chinese Medicine, the body’s protective shield is called Wei Qi and is controlled by the lungs. The word 衛 “wei” means guard and 氣”Qi” means power. As with any Kingdom, there’s a system of defense.
In this paradigm, Wei Qi is an innate armor or protective barrier that lives at the walls of the kingdom or just under our skin. ‘Pathogens’ (what we now know to be viruses and bacteria) are prevented from entering with this intuitive self-defense network.
When a battle between you and a pathogen heats up, your body literally heats up too. This is because Wei Qi is Yang (warm, energetic) in nature, and in order to win, more Wei Qi is allocated by the body to the battlefield.
Wei Qi energy controls the opening and closing of our pores and is nourished by the air we breath, the food we eat and the water we drink. This is our protective layer and keeps us from being infected by external pathogenic factors.
When our protective qi is strong, we are able to ward off diseases; if it is weakened we can fall ill to viruses/cold/flu and if it is very deficient, the disease may penetrate to deeper levels of the body affecting the internal organs. [Read more: How viral infection like Cold and Flu Develop in the view of Traditional Chinese medicine]
Understand the symptoms, the sign that your immune system is fighting
Defensive Qi works mostly around the skin and muscles so if enemies invade the body, this is the first line of battle. The first response is a slightly chilled feeling, stiff neck, heavy head, sometimes with mild fever or sweating. This is because the energy normally working in your tissue is now moved to engage in the fighting with the pathogens. If this line of defense fails, then the body will need to use strong weapons- inflammations, or even fever.
Mild sweating during a fever is seen in TCM as the body’s way of expelling the pathogen, with the pores letting the “intruder” out. This is why acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists will often encourage a fever rather than suppressing it. However, if one shows heavy sweating during a cold, it is the opposite of healing but rather a sign that the body is very weak that energy and resources are losing and leaking.
Strengthen and support your Wei Qi
During this most sensitive time of immunity and lung health, we want to encourage you to take precautions this pre-Winter season to build up your Wei Qi and act as a defense as we begin to enter “Cold & Flu Season.”
Here are 5 tips to help strengthen and support your Wei Qi:
Exercise. Circulate and strengthen Lung Qi and promote sweating to purge pathogens from entering the Wei Qi level (skin/muscle layer). Be sure to balance aerobic activity (yang) with Yoga, qi gong, stretching and breath work (yin).
Prioritize sleep. Sleep is a valuable time for the liver to replenish and cleanse the blood. It is our rejuvenation time to help build a strong immunity, dream, rest and restore. At least 8 hours per night and sleep before 11pm is essential for preventing disease.
Eat warm meals and grains to circulate Wei Qi. Avoid cold, raw, heavy, sweet food to clear pathogens, and invigorate intestines to clear waste.
Acupuncture. Help strengthen immunity by dispersing Lung/Large Intestine stagnation and clear pathogens before they go deeper into the body. Acupuncture also helps to decrease stress and improve sleep.
Herbal supplements like goji berry, American ginseng, fresh or dried lily bulbs, and fresh ginger can provide power and useful material for our immunity. For a better and stronger effect, also consider a personalized prescription by a professional herbalist.
Sources: “Nei Jing Kingdom Allegory” Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine by Huang Di Nei Jing