The coronavirus outbreak is now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Epidemiologists estimate that up to 70 percent of the population will get in contact with the virus over the next 12-24 months.
There is a great deal we can all do to slow down the spreading of the virus (thus enabling the healthcare system to cope with the small percentage of severe cases), from washing hands to not touching our face, not shaking hands and staying away from crowds, just to name a few. You will no doubt be familiar with these recommendations already.
But there is a great deal more we can do.
There is no vaccination against the virus; once we catch it, our bodies must fight it, and fight it well.
I would therefore like to offer some easy to follow advice on enhancing your immunity, based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.
There is not much data on the coronavirus to date, but we do know from initial studies conducted in China that children are just as much exposed to it as adults. However, most children don’t show any symptoms at all, or their symptoms are very mild.
Children are abundant in Qi in general, and Wei Qi in particular. Wei Qi is commonly translated as Defensive Qi; its function is to ward off external pathogens that threaten our health and wellbeing, including bacteria, viruses, and injuries.
Wei Qi is the Chinese medicine concept for immunity; its strength depends on two elements: Kidney Yang and Stomach Fluids.
Kidney Yang is the moving and warming energy of the body. In includes what Western biomedicine calls cortisol and adrenaline, although it encompasses much more. Mounting an efficient immune response to fight a virus requires Kidney Yang.
Stomach Fluids refer to the moistness of the Stomach and gut, which is extracted from food and drink. The Stomach is the origin of all fluids in the body, including saliva, tears, mucous and sweat. These fluids play an important role in protecting internal organs and serve as a vehicle to flush out pathogens from the body.
Here is what my colleague Ann Cecil-Sterman says about Kidney Yang and Stomach Fluids in the context of viral infections:
“Viruses are characterized by an invasion of Cold. That’s why we feel miserable and want to stay warm and wrapped up when we have “colds” (common viruses). Warming, moving Qi (Kidney Yang) breaks up that Cold and moves it out. At the same time, the body moves some of the fluids originating in the Stomach (from food and drink) and uses them to create a sweat which “opens the exterior” – like opening a door in the skin – and pushes the pathogen out. This is what happens when we sweat.
“Kidney Yang and Stomach Fluids are two commodities in decline in our current culture because we engage in lifestyles that not only fail to cultivate them, they actively erode them. Kidney Yang is eroded by excess activity and excess stimulation. Stomach Fluids are eroded by dehydration and consumed by overdrawing from the body’s deep resources. Adequate rest is important for the restoration of these reserves, but our culture is chronically sleep-deprived.
Practical advice on how to boost your immunity
Cultivate Kidney Yang by resting, keeping warm and eating nourishing foods
Cultivate Stomach Fluids by hydrating well
Support your Lungs