The immune system is the body’s is the first line of defense, designed to repel pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and parasites and fight infection. A major component of many chronic diseases, a compromised or dysfunctional immune system is certainly a ubiquitous concern in the modern world. A weakened immunity makes a person vulnerable to infections ranging from everyday annoyances like frequent colds to serious illnesses like chronic fatigue, hepatitis, and cancer, while a hypervigilant immune system can make the body turn on itself, attacking and damaging its own tissues as in the cases of various autoimmune conditions including allergies, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. Overwork, stress, inadequate nutrition and sleep, and exposure to harmful agents can all lead can all cause or exacerbate an immune system imbalance.
Although Western medicine can be miraculous in its ability to save lives, it is notably lacking in its ability to bolster or regulate immunity. Most conventional treatments used to address the conditions resulting from a weakened immune system are directed toward relieving symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause, while allopathic health care for overactive immune system disorders mainly includes treatments aimed at suppressing the immune system through medication. Although both approaches can be useful for limiting symptoms and managing pain, neither addresses the root cause of the condition or results in a cure. Furthermore, long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs is associated with various adverse side effects, chiefly making the person vulnerable to infections.
Practiced for over 2,500 years in various Asian cultures, acupuncture offers an alternative approach for treatment of weakened, compromised, or dysfunctional immune systems. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of natural therapies is their ability to optimize immune function and prevent illness and disease, as reflected by the historical fact that the famous acupuncturists in service to the emperors of China would only be paid as long as the Emperor and the royal family members in their charge remained healthy.
Chinese medicine works by strengthening the person’s defensive qi to increase the body’s ability to ward off pathogens, and helping balance energy, thereby improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and moderating the effects of stress. From the Western medicine perspective acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy regulate and strengthen the immune function by stimulating production of red and white blood cells, influencing specific and nonspecific cellular and humoral immunity, helping modulate hypothalamic-pituitary control of the autonomic and neuroendocrine systems, and increasing antioxidant production in the liver, hypothalamus, and red blood cells.
Chinese herbal medicine also boasts a tremendous arsenal of natural remedies that can effectively heighten immunity and greatly reduce the chances of serious pathology occurring. Weakened immunity can be restored and enhanced with herbs and formulas known for their adaptogenic and immunostimulant properties, which stimulate blood circulation and balance and regulate the nervous and endocrine systems.
Another powerful tool in the Chinese medicine repertoire is heat therapy called moxibustion involving application of burning ground-up mugwort leaves directly or indirectly to the skin. An ancient healing modality believed by some medical historians to even pre-date acupuncture, moxibustion plays a very important role in traditional Chinese medicine and has been shown in studies to increase white blood cell count in chemotherapy patients and other cases of immune deficiency.
A combined holistic approach to treatment comprised of regular acupuncture sessions, a Chinese herbal regimen, and relevant dietary and lifestyle modifications can offer a very effective, natural, and side effect-free approach to addressing the underlying causes of immune dysfunction, helping restore compromised immunity and normalizing the body’s immune response, fend off infections and prevent disease, speed up healing, and maintain and promote health in both the short and long-term.
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