The human immune system is a complicated built-in mechanism that is equipped with antibodies to enable self-protection and self-healing from any disease or disorder. Unfortunately, this innate protective system may have become compromised and even dysfunctional such that its immune defenses may mistakenly attack the body’s own healthy cells. This malfunctioning of the immune system is known as autoimmunity.
The truth of the matter is that autoimmunity is present in every one of us to some extent, especially if that individual has a weakened immune system. Therefore, a strong and healthy immune system holds the key to avoiding autoimmunity, which can affect almost any organ or body system, causing more than 100 types of chronic conditions and diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and myasthenia gravis, among many others, known as autoimmune diseases. In an autoimmune disease, the dysfunctional immune system attacks its own cells, mistaking them for foreign invaders. Autoimmunity can be triggered by many environmental, physical, as well as emotional factors, such that it can cause a broad spectrum of human illnesses. To avoid or reduce the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, boosting the immune system is a necessity.
One of the ways of strengthening the immune system naturally is to do it according to the The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has focused on the concept of balance and harmony in health and wellness, in particular, in the immune system.
The balance in Chinese diet
The Chinese "yin" and "yang" diet is the healthy diet of balance and harmony to boost the immune system.
This unique Chinese concept of food originates from the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), which are not only fundamental to the cycles of Nature but also corresponding to the human body. According to the Five Elements, the body organs are a network of functions and inter-relationships, manifested in the balance and harmony of "yin" and "yang." (For more information, visit my web page: Chinese Health.)
Essentially, the Chinese concept of "yin" and "yang" diet is based on the principles of control and restrain to attain a healthy immune system.
The three basic food types
According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all foods come into three types: cold ("yin"), hot ("yang"), and neutral.
The main functions of "yin" foods include: cooling the body; loosening muscles; reducing body tension; inducing natural sleep; slowing down body movement; and loosening bowels.
Examples of "yin" foods include: apples, apricots, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, watermelons (moderate "yin" fruits); burdock, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, onion, parsley, pea, scallion (moderate "yin" vegetables); most tropical fruits, nuts, dairy products, stimulants (alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, spices), chemicals and drugs (extreme "yin" foods).
The main functions of "yang" foods include: warming the body; tightening muscles; causing body tension; increasing body movement; promoting wakefulness; and hardening bowels.
Examples of "yang" foods include: most whole grains, including pasta and rice (moderate "yang" foods); shellfish and fish (moderate "yang" foods); eggs, meat, poultry, salt (extreme "yang" foods).
If the body symptoms describe a warm or hot condition, a healthy diet should emphasize cooling, cold, and neutral foods with fewer warm and hot foods in order to achieve the balance and harmony to boost the immune system.
The balance in Chinese exercise
Exercise is beneficial to the immune system:
- Physical exercise can flush out bacteria and viruses from the lungs, and even carcinogens (causing cancer) by increasing the output of wastes in the form of sweat and urine.
- Physical exercise not only enhances the circulation of antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body, but also accelerates the release of hormones that “warn” immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses.
- Physical exercise temporarily raises the body temperature to prevent bacterial growth, and thus enabling the body to fight the infection more effectively.
- Physical exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Stress is the underlying cause of many diseases.
However, according to research studies of laboratory mice by Nicolette Bishop, an associate professor of sport and exercise sciences at Loughborough University, intense exercise may also temporarily depress the immune system, such that it not only increases its susceptibility to catching an illness, but also aggravates the symptoms and severity of an illness.
The Chinese have a different approach to physical exercise: qi gong and tai chi focus on gentle movements to open up arteries and smooth out blockage of internal life energy (qi).
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Secrets of Authentic Tai Chi: Discover the secrets of the ancient Chinese exercise that can dramatically give you a healthy immune system to keep you fit and young.
Chinese exercises also focus on the importance of breathing, which is related to good posture and mindfulness. The former affects the circulation of qi, the life-giving energy responsible for your overall health and wellness; the latter is responsible for relaxation of the mind, and hence wellness of the mind.
The balance in Chinese herbs
Natural Chinese herbs, not their pharmaceutical counterparts in Western medicine, create balance in the body system to enhance and protect the immune system.
Some of the common herbs to boost and protect the immune system include:
Echinacea is the king of all immune system herbs because its roots, seeds, and leaves increase the production of interferon, T-cells, and killer cells in the immune system, which are responsible for killing foreign invaders as well as protecting non-infected cells from viruses.
Echinacea is safe and efficacious if it is used in small doses several times a day and taken continuously for two weeks, and then off one week.
Ginseng, with its branched roots in the shape resembling that of the human form, is called “man root” in Chinese. The word “ginseng” literally means crystallization of the essence of the earth (“shen”) in the form of a man (“jen”). Ginseng is the king of herbs due to its holistic-healing potency; that is, it treats the whole body, not just a part of it. Ginseng is noted for its adjusting, preventive, and restorative potency, in particular as a potent immune stimulant. Ginseng is a versatile herb to boost the immune system.
Licorice has interferon, which protects non-infected cells from viruses. This herb is potent against candida, and herpes, and other types of bacteria.
My Myasthenia Gravis—A Holistic Approach to Autoimmune Diseases.
This book is an account of my own struggle with my myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease, with suggestions on how you may protect your immune system, or even overcome many of the disease symptoms of myasthenia gravis or any autoimmune disease.
For many years, I had been on steroid medications until I became disillusioned about the efficacy of Western medicine in combating autoimmune diseases.
I strongly believe that pharmaceutical drugs cannot eliminate the cause of a disease; at best, they can only reduce the disease symptoms. You have to use your wisdom to look at the pros and cons of taking any drug; nobody can make the decision for you.
Take Control of Your Health, and Escape the Sickness Industry. This informative and inspirational book by Elaine Hollingsworth, the movie star turned heath crusade, explains in detail how understanding dangerous drugs, unreliable medical tests, and often-times unnecessary procedures may help you escape the sickness industry through natural self-healing.
Elaine Hollingsworth's book was inspiring to me.
My rude awakening came when I recalled that in ancient classics in Chinese medicine the focus had always been on the "relationship" between the patient and nature, rather than on the healing methods. It suddenly dawned on me that healing is NOT about “waiting to be healed”—healing is about the desire to heal from within, and not from an external source.
Healing may come naturally in holistic living. A holistic approach to healing means an alternative approach to disease. In the past two decades, many people have sought alternative medicine after they have exhausted all treatments of conventional medicine with respect to autoimmune diseases. Thousands of research studies on plant nutrients and herbs, and vitamins and minerals performed in university laboratories and clinical settings have attested to the effectiveness of alternative and complementary medicine.
To cure any autoimmune disease you may have, you must empower yourself with knowledge and information before you can embark on a holistic and alternative approach to your health and wellness. Do not just think out of the box; create your own box of thinking.
Coping with an autoimmune disease is never easy; it requires much wisdom. First of all, you need wisdom to accept the reality, rather than denying its existence. You need wisdom to understand the disease symptoms, and how you may improve or worsen your disease symptoms. You need wisdom to deal with everyday challenges due to your disease symptoms. Then, you need wisdom to know your medical options as well as the medications your doctor may have recommended. Finally, you need wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau