The immune system is called “Wei Qi” (pronounced “Way Chee”) in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Wei Qi protects the body from “Evil Qi”. Evil Qi can be any invader, external (such as “germs”) or internal (chemicals or signals produced inside your body), which place a stress on the proper functioning of your body. External forms of Evil Qi include: viruses, bacteria, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sugar, pasteurized dairy products, processed foods,pollution, and overexposure to cold, dampness or wind. Internally generated Evil Qi can result from trauma, overwork, sleep deprivation, depression, stress and anxiety. The stronger your Wei Qi, the better you are able to cope with Evil Qi. If you have a Wei Qi imbalance, it is best to reduce your exposure to Evil Qi as much as possible.
Wei Qi is manufactured by the Spleen. In TCM, the Spleen has to do with your stomach, pancreas and other digestive organs: how well they are able to absorb and utilize nutrients and beneficial bacteria from the foods you eat. “Spleen Qi” is “Digestive Qi”. The Lungs assist the Spleen by circulating the Wei Qi produced by the Spleen. In TCM, the Lung complex includes the skin, mucus membranes and nasal passages. This is very similar to our Western understanding of the immune system. In order to have a healthy immune system, there must be a predominance of healthy bacteria in the gut (intestines). A healthy gut is a tropical rainforest of bacterial diversity. There are over 5,600 different strains. This healthy bacteria forms a natural flora, or protective coating in your large and small intestines, which further disseminates via the mucus membranes in your lungs, mucus membranes (eyes, nose, throat) and skin. Intestinal flora protects your immune system in several ways. First, just by taking up space, and being more proficient at obtaining nutrients, it provides a physical barrier to colonization by foreign, deleterious microbes. Second, healthy flora sends signals to the lymph nodes to help the body differentiate between pathogenic and benign substances, preventing autoimmune attacks. Third, intestinal flora implanted in the gut during breast feeding influences the growth and formation of organs crucial to proper immune function, such as the thymus gland
Now for the interesting part: 90% of cells in the human body are microbial (bacteria), and a mere 10% are “human”. Think about that! Western science is only beginning to grasp the implications of this fact. So many aspects of our modern lifestyle put our internal ecology at risk. For example:
- Overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock.
- Overuse of antibacterial soaps and industrial cleansers.
- Lack of contact with soil. A little dirt left in your garden vegetables might be a good thing!
- Formula feeding of infants instead of breast feeding.
- Refined sugar: The average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year–compared to just 7 ½ pounds consumed on average in the year 1700. That’s 20 times as much! Sugar feeds pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi in your gut.
- 98% of public drinking water facilities use chlorine or chloramine to disinfect the water. These are powerful antimicrobial agents. They combine with organic matter to form compounds called trihalomethanes (THMs), also known as disinfectant byproducts. One of the most common of these THMs is chloroform, a known carcinogen. These compounds are toxic when consumed, inhaled or applied to the skin. Furthermore, they kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, contributing to dysbiosis.
- Too much processed food and refined starches. Not enough fresh food, and not enough variety in our diets.
- The birth control pill, steroids, other hormone pills, and immunosuppressant drugs promote dysbiosis of the gut. If you must take these medications, consider getting regular acupuncture treatments to balance their harmful effects.
How to undo the damage?
- Filter your water and clean up your diet. Avoid toxins, and try to eat organic as much as possible.
- Eat a wide variety of whole foods.
- Avoid the overuse of antibiotics! Many conditions, such as urinary tract infections, sinus infections and acne can be cleared up easily with Chinese herbs. Herbal remedies strengthen your Wei Qi, and destroy the pathogens while leaving your immune system intact. Antibiotics are also present in factory farmed meats and dairy products.
- Eliminate, or cut way back on refined sugar and alcohol.
- Probiotics may help, but only if you follow the other guidelines.
- Acupuncture heals inflammation, regulates Qi, and helps the body expel toxins. There are several wonderful classic Chinese Herbal formulas that strengthen the Spleen Qi, clear pathogens, and fortify immunity.
Here’s a mind-blowing video about “fecal transplants”. This icky but effective treatment is gaining in popularity for people with severe intestinal dysbiosis and devasted immune systems.
So now you know: If you keep your gut and immune system healthy, you won’t have to “take “sh#t” from anyone!