December 2

Supporting your Immune System with Acupuncture and Acupressure

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If you are looking for a way to provide your body with extra support in boosting your immune system, acupuncture can help you. Your immune system can be weakened in a number of ways - when you are suffering from lack of sleep, by changes in your diet, by not getting outdoors enough, and even by changes in the season. We all want to keep our immune system working at it's best so that we can feel healthier and can do all the things that make life enjoyable.

Your immune system protects your body from external factors such as viruses and bacteria that cause illness and infections as well as fighting cancer cells from within the body. If you frequently catch cold or other infections this shows that your immune system is weakened and needs support.

Signs of a poor immune system include:

  • frequent colds/flus (more than 2-3 times per year)
  • feeling fatigued and run down
  • unhealthy hair or skin
  • slow healing of injuries
  • digestive problems

Acupuncture can help your body bounce back and become strong enough to fight future infections.

Acupuncture stimulates the body’s immune response and strengthens your body to improve your resistance to infection. Studies have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture in improving the body’s immune function by increasing white blood cell and T-cell numbers, with results lasting up to a month after treatment. Many things that affect your immune system negatively can also be addressed through acupuncture.

Poor sleep, stress, and anxiety can be treated so that the underlying issues affecting your immune system can be improved as well as treating the immune system directly.

Acupuncture is commonly used for immune system support.

We typically see people when they are feeling run down and would like help in feeling stronger, or when they are coming up on times when they know they often get sick - times when there is increased stress in their life, or during seasonal changes. This helps make your body stronger to aid in withstanding emotional or health stresses. Acupuncture is very beneficial as a preventative treatment, or if you have existing conditions.

On your own, you can improve your body’s immune response by minimizing stress, getting enough sleep, and with a healthy diet and exercise. You can also utilize acupressure.

Acupuncture involves the stimulation of acupuncture points throughout the body by inserting very fine needles at those points. Different groupings of acupuncture points are chosen based on the signs and symptoms that you are showing at the time of treatment.

Acupressure uses similar methods, but instead of inserting needles, pressure is applied at those same areas. It is very easy to do - by simply massaging these locations for a short time you can stimulate the acupuncture points. Generally the response you achieve is not as strong as by using acupuncture on those same points, since the stimulation is not as deep or as specific in location. However, for a simple treatment at home to give you a boost before your next acupuncture visit, it can be very helpful.

There are several acupuncture points that you can massage at home to help stimulate your immune system (please avoid during pregnancy). You can do this once a day, or whenever you think of it.

Four immune-boosting acupuncture points that are easy to locate on your own:

You can practise acupressure at home on yourself or your family members, using these four points. They work well together to help stimulate your immune system, and keep you healthy.

(See the diagrams below to help locate the points.)

1. Stomach 36 (Zusanli)

An excellent point for treating many different disorders and is great for general well-being. This is one of the best acupuncture points for strengthening the body, as well as being a very calming point. It boosts your energy and helps your body fight off any infections that may be affecting you. The acupuncture point Stomach 36 is located on the outside of the leg, just below the knee. Put your hand just below your kneecap and feel for a sensitive spot just outside the edge of the shin bone.

2. Large intestine 11 (Quchi)

Great for reducing fever and for preventing colds and influenza. As well, it is great for reducing inflammation. Anytime you are feeling feverish or ill, this point will likely be used in your acupuncture treatment.

The acupuncture point Large Intestine 11 is found at the end of the elbow crease on the outside of your arm, when your arm is slightly bent..

3. Large Intestine 4 (Hegu)

An important point in treating any kind of pain or congestion in the head and is very good for strengthening the immune system. It is also a great anti-inflammatory point along with Large Intestine 11.

The acupuncture point Large intestine 4 is located on the top of the hand in the space between the base of the thumb and the first finger, in the fleshy part of the hand

4. Lung 7 (Lieque)

It is called a "command point" for disorders of the head and neck, and helps prevent colds and influenza. It is also frequently used for local pain and inflammation.

The acupuncture point Lung 7 is also on the arm, and is found on the thumb side of the wrist between the 2 tendons, just below the wrist bone.

"The Heavenly Star Points"

All of these acupuncture points above belong to a grouping of points called The Heavenly Star Points. These are a group of 12 acupuncture points (out of more than 400 that are located all over the body!) that are described as some of the most powerful and useful acupuncture points on the body. Often, at least one of these points will be used during an acupuncture treatment. Frequently several of them will be, because of their effectiveness in treating many different conditions.

To treat yourself at home

Alternate pressure on all four acupuncture points, massaging each for around 30 seconds before moving to the next point. Repeat this cycle two or three times for a total of about five minutes. (Reminder, please avoid this during pregnancy; Acupuncture and Acupressure are safe during pregnancy and can be used for many issues associated with pregnancy, but are best done under supervision of a Registered Acupuncturist.)

Try this first thing in the morning - it will lead to a healthier start to your day! If you have any further questions about Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture, please contact our Registered Acupuncturist, Elmira Olson, at elmira@repphysio.ca

Elmira has been practicing Acupuncture inEdmonton since 2007. Acupuncture is billable to many extended health care plans.


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