Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, there has been much news about how to boost one’s immune system to protect against the virus.
Like influenza, Covid-19 is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system.
Unlike bacterial infections, viruses cannot be treated by antibiotics. It is up to your body’s immune system to fight off the Covid-19 virus.
This has also led to many people thinking that they would develop natural immunity against the virus after they have successfully fought it off and would be less likely to be reinfected.
Studies show that recovered patients develop immunity to the virus, but the immunity wanes over time and it is possible to be reinfected. A study by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases shows that a person’s immunity to Covid-19 can last anywhere from 35 days to 41 years.
Hence, it is important to strengthen the body’s immune system to benefit overall health.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may be able to contribute to this. Chang Le TCM Wellness Clinic’s physician Lee Teck Chaw explains how applying TCM principles can support a healthy immune system.
Q. What is the function of the immune system and how does it protect our body?
In TCM, the immune system is commonly referred to as positive energy. It acts as a shield and protects us from negative energy, which may include pathogens such as viruses and bacteria that may invade the body and cause disease.
There is constant wrestling between these two types of energy. However, there are several ways to enhance the positive energy in our bodies.
One of the simplest ways to start is to cultivate a positive and compassionate mindset. TCM principles believe that selfless and benevolent actions benefit us more than others, and thus can contribute to our immune system.
Research has shown that poor mental health, negative emotions and stress can impact the immune system. Hence, it’s imperative to reduce the stress factors in your life to build a healthy mindset.
Getting a good night’s sleep also restores our positive energy, while getting rid of bad energy.
Exercising also builds qi – a vital life force essential to the body – and strengthens the body. However, be mindful that unsuitable exercises can have the opposite effect.
Q. What are the signs of a weak immune system?
One of the most obvious signs is that you fall sick frequently and easily. Other warning signs include insomnia and feeling lethargic easily. You may feel more reluctant to move around and become increasingly attached to your mobile phone or computer.
Unstable emotions may also be a sign of a weakened immune system. When the body has insufficient blood or qi, we tend to fall prey to negative emotions and be trapped by them.
We are also more easily tensed or terrified by external agents such as loud sounds like thunder and crowds. When our immune system weakens, we are unable to tolerate such sounds, and are more traumatised by them.
Q. How can TCM support the body physically and mentally?
Instead of focusing on a single route to good health, TCM philosophy emphasises on maintaining a balance of yin and yang energy forces in the body, where the former is negative and passive, while the latter is positive and active.
Anything that disrupts the balance of yin and yang is considered not beneficial to the body. One example is the common view of drinking two litres of water a day. This can actually be damaging to the health of some people as the right amount of water to be consumed varies from person to person. The main thing is to strike a balance.
Q. What can I do to maintain a healthy immune system?
In TCM, the focus is on strengthening the digestive system, so that it can absorb food and nutrients well. After all, the gut is closely linked to the immune system and gut bacteria can affect overall health.
One way to strengthen the digestive system is to cover and protect the abdomen when sleeping, especially when the air-conditioner or fan is on. Any loss of body heat from the abdominal area can easily weaken the digestive system.
A weak immune system begins from the weakening of the digestive system.
Age also plays a part because when we age, the digestive system begins to weaken.
You can also eat food rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics and prebiotics to aid gut health, which will support your immune system. Herbs such as lingzhi, a type of mushroom used in TCM for its nutritional properties, may also be included in your diet.
Q. What is lingzhi traditionally used for and what are its benefits?
In TCM, lingzhi symbolises longevity and eternity. It can disperse qi stagnation in the chest, enhance the energy of the heart, nourish the central region of the body, improve memory, and support life span.
There are more than a thousand types of lingzhi in the market. Make sure to first discuss with your TCM physician which type of lingzhi is suitable for you and get it from reliable sources.
Borsch Med 100% Lingzhi Cracked Spores Powder Capsule is available at www.borschmed.com as well as selected pharmacies and online platforms.