The immune system is the body’s protection. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues and organs. It requires intelligence and efficacy. From a Chinese medicine point of view the immune has been recognized as such in the classics (2,500 years ago) with slighty different perspective.
Autoimmune diseases are categorized into 80 different varieties whereas the body mounts an immune response towards itself. This action will lead to tissue damage; inflammation and loss of function in affected tissues and can be detrimental to the person suffering from it and pose huge limitations to their lifes.
According to Western medicine, precipitating factors are genetic disposition, immune system dysfunction and environmental stressors such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, diet, chemical exposures, mold, emotional stress and hormonal imbalances – not unlike Chinese medicine.
There are some subtleties in Chinese medicine as we consider the body as being vulnerable to ‘energetic’ impacts. The body has six individuals layers with specific characteristics: Taiyang, Yangming, Shaoyang (which make up the immune system) and then Taiyin, Shaoyang and Jueyin (which are the internal layers that are affected if the immune response fails).
In Chinese medicine, we regard an external influence causing a ‘cold damage’ to various extends. What does this mean? It means that the body is trying to maintain its’ constant core temperature and external pathogenic factors such as wind, cold, heath, dampness and warmth – depending on the state of the immune system – can cause a variety of imbalances. For all functions to remain at optimal levels the core temperature needs to remain consistently at the same level. If external climatic factors ‘hit’ us, it will be destabilizing. It’s a bit like damaging the chassis of your car and the engine being compromised by the dent
Fever is a healthy immune response of the body in order to maintain perfect temperature. In Chinese medicine, we are familiar with the five factors (wind, cold, heat, warmth and dampness). Can you now understand why most people become ill when there is a drastic change in the weather? The body is unable to keep up it’s core temperature due to strong influences and hence, protection fails.
The strength of the immune system depends on the efficacy of the organs involved in keeping it functioning: the spleen and the lungs play an important role. As we consider the body with it’s structure and the mind or emotions as an influence on this framework, we believe that excessive emotions have a strong influence. And thirdly, the genetic makeup is another factor influencing the function of us entirely.
The strength of the immune system depends on the efficacy of the organs involved in keeping it functioning and the internal framework. In autoimmune conditions, we particularly look for:
· Qi stagnation (interrupted and stagnated flow of energy),
· Yin deficiency (damaged structure of cells),
· Blood stasis (the interrupted flow of blood), and the
· Accumulation of phlegm and dampness (stagnated fluids).
We assist autoimmune conditions with acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicines. As everyone has their individual needs and goals with an autoimmune condition, it’s important to discuss the desired outcomes first. The treatment paln may include a combined approach of pharmaceutics, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines with dietary and possibly lifestyle changes.