The usual winter flu season is being made much worse this year with the dramatic spread of Coronavirus. Here in the UK, Government advice is focusing on regular handwashing, using alcohol hand sanitisers, avoiding physical contact, and self-isolating if you have been exposed to the virus.
These are all effective and useful measures, but what else can be done to reduce our chances of picking up the infection – and easing the symptoms if we do?
Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer for immune support, with both acupuncture and herbs.
Research has shown that acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of colds and flu by:
Enhancing the actions of natural killer cells – our immune system’s SAS soldiers
Modulating the number and ratios of immune cell to optimise our defences
Stimulating nerves to release endorphins and other chemicals that reduce pain
Increasing local microcirculation to alleviate inflammation and swelling
As well as managing actual symptoms, acupuncture can also be used on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong and help prevent infection in the first place. After all, prevention is better and easier than cure!
Chinese herbs are frequently used alongside needling, to enhance and deepen the therapeutic effects. These herbs have a long history of use for managing colds and influenza, and the prescriptions are always tailored to suit your specific needs. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach; in Traditional Chinese Medicine the treatment is always unique to the patient’s pattern of symptoms.
How you look after yourself in-between acupuncture sessions is just as important for immunity as the acupuncture itself. This is why I provide diet and lifestyle advice to my clients.
According to my colleague Registered Nutritionist Sally Duffin, some of the best foods and nutrients for immune health are:
For more Corona-specific advice, there is research around particular nutrients that can help defend against RNA viruses. These include:
– N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): a precursor to the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Other glutathione precursors include broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus
– Selenium: best food sources are Brazil nuts, coconut, shellfish
– Beta glucans
(ref: M.F. McCarty and J.J. DiNicolantonio, Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including including influenza and coronavirus Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases)
For more information from Sally on how to strengthen the immune system, please follow this link and watch her video: