BY CELESTE HOUVENER LAC.

Here is a brief overview of a few key points for maintaining the immune system at an optimal level. The first three are ones you may already know, I have elaborated and provided some insight into these. The final point relates to my area of expertise and may be new or mysterious to most. There is great depth to each of these key immune boosting tips to be elaborated upon. Please enjoy this overview and do not hesitate to ask questions of book an online or in person consultation for your personal health concerns.

 

Daily stressors can accumulate . . . that weakens our body’s defenses over time

  1. Deep Breathing

You can help maintain and strengthen your immune system by taking full breaths from the belly. Daily stressors can accumulate and cause a tendency toward shallow and rapid breathing, that weakens our body’s defenses over time. The more we intentionally practice proper breathing techniques the more we maintain full breath throughout the day.

Try this technique for at least five minutes three times a day for a week. You will notice your breath, and therefore your life benefit. Keep mind and shoulders relaxed throughout exercise:

-Inhale slowly and evenly via the nose, aim for the inhale to last 7+ seconds

-Let your breath expand your belly and ribcage out in all directions

-Sip in a bit more breath into your belly than usual, feeling the oxygen reaching your entire body

-Hold breath in for as long as you comfortably can at max capacity, this may start at a second or two and build to between 5-7 seconds.

-Exhale slowly and evenly via nose, for 9+ seconds

-Completely empty lungs and again hold for as long as you comfortably can at minimum capacity in the same way you did at maximum capacity

-Repeat this at least 5minutes 3x a day

-After completing this exercise and throughout the day, notice your breath without judgment or effort to change. By bringing more awareness to your breath, regulate and bring you into a clearer state of being.

* Remember to keep your mind and shoulders relaxed throughout this exercise

If your nasal passage is blocked in anyway, don’t let it stop you from this practice. This exercise is especially helpful for you. You can start by breathing through your mouth and imagine your sinuses opening with each breath. Attempt partial mouth with partial nose inhales and exhales. Exhaling through the nose will help bring movement to stuck sinuses. Imagine all congestion draining downward bit by bit with each breath. You may need a few tissues during your exhale!

Stay tuned to my Celeste the Rose site for more in-depth breathing articles and breath exercise videos coming soon. Become a sponsor of more breathing education materials by clicking here: . Also feel free to submit your breathing technique video requests in the contact form.

2. Moderate Exercise

Physical exercise is key in maintaining general health. Moderate exercise is especially useful if your body is fighting any pathogens. Ideally, induce a light sweat for 20-40 minutes, 3-6 times a week with your favorite activities. You will raise your core temperature, encouraging healthy circulation throughout your body, and activate your body’s natural detoxification processes.

While I do have my preferred exercise modalities, its best to find something you personally enjoy. Any sweat-inducing physical activity that you have a good time doing will do wonders for your health. Pick something you can find enjoyment in over what you feel like you “should” do. This will keep you inspired and coming back for more movement each day. Enjoyable activities also help elevate your mood, and that will help regulate stress. Choosing exercises that you enjoy will also encourage you to actually get moving consistently, which is key.

Sometimes we get so caught up in what we should do that we forget what we actually like to do. So meet yourself where you are genuinely at and start exploring. Do not let excuses and old stories bog you down, everyone can pick up somewhere. Prioritize regular exercise in your schedule and you will see how you have the clarity and energy to actually do what is on your to do list.

Enjoyable exercise may look like a brisk jaunt through a beautiful park or participating in your favorite sport or fitness class. Some great activities to induce a light sweat are dancing, martial arts, mid to high-intensity yoga, Pilates, aerial arts, acrobatics, hiking, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, vigorous yard work, stair climbing, jumping jacks, jump rope, and so many more! Your options are vast; you can choose a few to keep it fresh.

If you have decided at some point in your life that you hate exercise all together, there is still opportunity for you to get moving. You could tune out to your favorite TV show while you ride your stationary bike, treatmill, or better yet hula hoop! Get creative, make opportunity, &/or even trick yourself into getting a sweat on if you have to. Ideally, you can ditch the TV and bring mindfulness into your exercise. You know what you need to do to bring some movement into your day.

If you are suffering from pain or injury, listen to your body so that you help and do not hinder your condition. You can find ways to achieve an intense workout that does not cause acute pain to your condition. Find ways to keep moving even if you are injured. For instance, if you usually play tennis and broke your hand, try brisk walking or stair stepping while your hand repairs. Consult a professional if you need help with this. Injury repair and pain management is a major field treated within the scope of acupuncture, herbology, and qi gong. Don’t cover up your pain; use it as a guide to bring you into a more balanced state of strength!

If you have suffered extreme injury and are unable to find a suitable exercise to induce a light sweat for a time period, there is hope. Soak in an Epsom salt bath 30+ minutes throughout the week as need be. This will help with circulation, tissue repair, mood, and more. These baths can in this way provide some of these benefits until you are ready for therapeutic exercises and beyond.

If you are immune-compromised, make sure to wear light protective layers when exposed to cold and wind. Especially if you are sweating, the pores are more open for pathogenic invasion. This means covering your skin, especially around the neck, core, and joints. Give yourself time to cleanse and dry before going about your day after sweating.

Be on the lookout for more in-depth fitness articles and exercise videos my Celeste the Rose site. Become a sponsor of more physical fitness education materials by clicking here: . Also feel free to submit your fitness exercise video requests in the contact form.

  1. Proper Sleep

A good night sleep is key to maintaining a healthy immune system. Do not skip out on precious sleeping hours, as you need this time to help restore and replenish all of your mental and bodily capacities. Sleep is something you need each and every day, and not something that you can “catch up on” in the future. Amongst a society that idolizes an “all work, no sleep” mentality- you need to individually stand for you and your body’s need for proper rest.

Perhaps you have early mornings ahead? Setting a bedtime alarm for yourself can ensure you can get plenty of rest. Schedule at least 8-10 hours of intentional rest and relaxation. If you lead a high-intensity life, you may need a few hours of intentional winding down before you are able to fall asleep.

Get in touch with your circadian rhythm. Shut off artificial light sources and all stimulating mental, emotional, and physical triggers. Set your devices to filter out blue-light when the sun sets with night mode or apps like Flux for your computer. Set your phone to “do not disturb” mode. You will be more prepared to face the day’s issues if you allow yourself to fully refuel. For myself, this can be easier said than done with all of the fun things that start later in the evening. Yet when I align with the natural rhythms, my balanced and nourish mind and body thank me greatly! It is worth it to get my work and fun priorities in during the day so I am ready to sleep at night.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 11pm-1am are the hours where the Liver and Gallbladder do their best work. If you are out of balance you may feel this as a creative and productive surge coming to the surface. Yet in the long run following this urge to work or play late into the night will leave your body depleted. Aim to be winding down as the sunsets and in a deep sleep by the liver nourishing times. Your body will naturally cleanse and nourish your blood while you sleep.

Proper restoration takes time and intention. Allow yourself time to prepare yourself for sleep so you can truly relax. Perhaps this means tidying your space, preparing your things for the coming day, practicing meditation and yin yoga, taking a hot shower or bath, &/or whatever you need to get yourself in the right space to let go of the days concerns and rejuvenate. Leave the worries of the day behind and enjoy the calm inner state within yourself no matter what is going on around you.

Poor sleep can become a major issue that weakens the immune system. This can be inability to fall asleep, inability to sleep a full night into the morning, light sleep, dream-disturbed sleep, or even too much sleep with difficulty waking up. There are many things you can do to improve your sleep on your own. When in need of extra help, TCM provides many treatment options for various underlying causes of poor sleep. Feel free to book an online consultation or in-person session to seek treatment for poor sleep.

If there are aspects in your life that prevent you from sleeping, such as motherhood or graveyard shifts- do not panic. Realize a goal of sleeping at night for sometime in the near future. In the meantime find supplementary practices and treatments to help support your daily rest and restoration.

Educate yourself deeper on the fascinating importance of sleep and let me know what you discover!

  1. Acupuncture, Herbology, and Medical Qi Gong

Acupuncture, herbology, and medical qi gong are excellent ways to help build and maintain excellent immune functions. Treatments are effective preventatively as well as during and after acute immune dysfunction. You can receive treatments, learn exercises, and find herbal supplements customized to help your circumstance. Effective treatment to help clear head and nasal passageways, pacify fever, strengthen immune system, and much more!

Traditional Chinese Medicine offers preventative, acute, post-acute recovery, and ongoing care for pathogenic invasions. Treatments are aimed at balancing the body to its most natural state of wellbeing. When treating an illness, diagnosis of the pathogenic factor is taken into consideration to develop a balancing treatment. The external influences we face are broken into six encompassing categories: cold, heat, fire, damp, wind, and dryness. These become pathogenic factors when in excess, and are then considered to as the “Six Evils” or “Six Pathogenic Factors”.

The Six Pathogenic Factors can enter from the external environment into one’s body. The Six Pathogens have Six Levels of invasion into one’s body, as stated in the TCM classic text Shang Han Lun (220 CE). These are six levels to the depths of your body. They are can offer protection if the body is resilient, as well as invasion if the body’s immune system compromised. The pathogenic factors usually enter more superficially and can develop deeper into the body. This can look like a bacteria entering your lungs and developing an infection that spreads throughout your body. In some cases pathogenic factors can enter into the deeper layers from the get go, such as a toxic materials that enter through the digestion or bloodstream.

In TCM treatment, we aim to skillfully keep the body free of the invading pathogenic factor. Ideally, we can do so before a pathogen enters the body. If a pathogenic invasion is present, we aim to prevent it from developing deeper into the body. Whether the invasion is slowed, stopped, or reversed- there are many possibilities with proper treatment.

Our immune systems utilize mass amounts of energy when fighting off or pathogens to bring the body back into balance. The more we fortify our body and mind we become less vulnerable to pathogenic factors. Treating any physical, emotional, &/or mental condition with acupuncture will simultaneously increase your bodies resilience toward pathogens.

Onto some specifics about each TCM treatment modality:

Acupuncture treatments

There are individual and groups of acupuncture points in traditional Chinese medicine that can treat acute and chronic immune illnesses. If you have an acute cold, you can receive a series of treatment to help minimize and eliminate symptoms. For individuals with a systemic tendency towards sickness, you can build immune system resilience with regular acupuncture. If you are wishing regulate and strengthen immune and respiratory systems, find out more about how acupuncture can assist your efforts.

Herbal Prescriptions

Herbs can access your body internally, absorbing into your bloodstream to reach your organs and blood stream directly. They can treat specifically and are very useful to prevent, reduce, &/or eliminate pathogen invasions. Herbs can also build resilience to weak areas and systems within the body to increase your body’s resilience. You can take home herbal formulas to administer throughout the day depending on the prescription, which ensures you are receiving the treatment you need between sessions.

Medical Qi Gong

There are specific exercises in medical qi gong to help stimulate immune function in the body. You can increase your core energy and resilience through regular and proper practice of qi gong. Qi Gong essentially means “energy skill”. The practice utilizes breath, physical postures, and focus of the mind. The synergy of these pillars enables you to directly accomplish the objective of the various exercises. You can increase lung capacity, clear your respiratory channels, and build your core energy to stay your healthiest through any immune-compromising times.

Qi gong exercises are tangibly beneficial to all of your bodily systems. You can feel your inner power activating and bringing vitality to the various focus areas of each exercise. Depending on what issues you are experiencing, you will be prescribed specific exercises for your condition. Medical qi gong centralizes in exercises that build your core strength and defense systems. When your internal systems and external defenses are reinforced, no pathogen stands a chance against your fortress!

In life and in qi gong, “your energy goes where your mind goes”. This has huge implications in life, as what we focus on is what we will move towards. The mindfulness aspect of the qi gong exercises brings your focus to your breath and body. This in turn will increase your sense of bodily and energetic awareness. This means you will increase your abilities to access different areas of your body with your mind.

There are many types of qi gong, it is best to find one that works for you. Most qi gong does have medical benefit, yet specific qi gong exercises can be chosen for specific medical purposes. I prescribe specific exercises for my patients depending on their condition.

In closing, I hope these tips and bits of information are of help to you. Keep in mind, they are tips of an iceberg and up to your own discretion how you utilize them. Each of the individual suggestions could be elaborated on greatly and would benefit from professional consultation. If you would like to hear more, do not hesitate to ask questions or book an online or in person consultation. I am happy to help you integrate these tips into your life in the most effective way for you.