Boosting the Immune System with Oriental Medicine

The Immune System 

Can classical Oriental medicine with acupuncture benefit the immune system for the healing and prevention of illness? Most certainly, it can. Classical medicine has a long tradition of treatment for pathogenic chi (contagious diseases) that goes back to the earliest dawn of medicine. The strategy involves the support of the body’s Wei Qi (immune system) to expel the invader and harmonize the regular processes. Acupuncture balances the yin and yang, hot and cold, excess and deficient. In a state of deficiency (depleted immune system), the body is prone to absorb an excess, which is the unwanted invader. 

Immunity functions as the first line of defense: guarding the surface protects against internal harm. -Bienfield*

When chasing the pathogen, the physician must first detect its location and then stop its progression. -Su Wen *

When the pathogen is abundant, this is an excess. When the (immune) qi is weak, we call it a deficient condition. -Su Wen

The Wei Qi 

In Oriental Medicine, the immune system is a circulating system of energy known as Wei Qi. Wei Qi is also called anti-pathogenic qi or defensive qi. Acupuncture moves, invigorates, and strengthens the Wei qi to protect the body against invading pathogens. Pathogenic invaders, even in ancient times, were recognized as airborne communicable diseases. They called it “pathogenic wind” or Xie qi, “evil wind”. 

Pathogenic wind is the root of all kinds of illnesses…When the pathogenic wind invades the body, it gradually turns into heat and gradually damages the energy, essence, and blood. When blood becomes depleted, the liver is not nourished and malfunctions. -Su Wen

The Wei Qi flows on the outer layers of the body, between the skin and muscles in an area known as the cou-li space, and it diffuses over the chest and abdomen. Wei Qi is responsible for immunity and protects the body from pathogens in the environment. It assists in regulating body temperature via the opening and closing of the pores. The Lungs and Liver are the organs that regulate this Wei Qi. The Lungs are the organ closest to the surface and are often the first to be affected by an invading pathogen. The Lungs play a part in diffusing the Wei Qi around the chest. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi and the body. If the Liver is functioning poorly, openings in the Wei Qi weaken the body’s defense. 

A person who has weak or deficient Wei Qi is prone to catching colds and other illnesses, will feel cold easily, have low energy and may have an autoimmune condition. Their sleep-wake cycles may be problematic or irregular. This is because the Wei Qi also plays a part in putting us to sleep at night and waking us up in the morning. During the day, the Wei Qi circulates on the exterior of the body. At night, the Wei Qi retreats to the interior of the body to nourish the internal organs. It emerges at the acupuncture point Bladder 1 at the inner eye in the morning, signaling us to wake up. 

Problems with the Wei Qi (immune system) often look like this: 

  • Disrupted sleep cycle
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Catching colds easily
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity of the skin
  • Digestive upset

Things that Deplete the Wei Qi

If you have a combination of these symptoms, your Wei Qi is likely impacted. What are some things that negatively impact the Wei Qi? In other words, they deplete or exhaust the immune system. Watch out for these: 

  • Exposure to pathogens (being around infected people) 
  • Not sleeping regularly or not sleeping enough
  • Stress (especially prolonged stress) 
  • Overwork
  • Improper nutrition
  • Lack of exercise and movement (lack of movement causes stagnation of qi, which then cannot circulate properly). 
  • Grief, sadness, or frustration
  • Chemical exposure or endocrine disruptors in the environment or home 
  • Uncontrolled allergies (Wei Qi disturbance) 

So these are all things that can deplete your Wei Qi, resulting in a loss of energy, feeling sick, catching colds often, and recovering more slowly from common ailments. 

Types of Pathogens

Oriental medicine recognizes five types of external pathogenic invaders. Acupuncture methods are applicable for each one. 

  1. Virus (pathogenic cold) 
  2. Bacteria (pathogenic heat) 
  3. Fungus (pathogenic dampness) 
  4. Poison (toxic heat) 
  5. Pathogenic Climates (excess of heat, cold, wind, dampness or dryness) 

Progression of an Illness

We can call this the “secret life of a pathogen”. This natural progression from the exterior to the interior layers of the body describes the journey of the pathogen from the outside, in, and also shows up as symptoms in the progression of the illness. This is called the Shang Han Lun (stages of progression of a pathogen) . If the pathogen started out on the exterior channels (stiff neck, aversion to cold, shivers, and low energy), and the Wei Qi does not fight it off, it could progress to the interior channels and disrupt the internal organs. Acupuncture is strategically designed to “arrest” the pathogen at whatever layer it is in, and help the body to expel it. If the pathogen is so deep that it cannot be expelled, the acupuncture treatment will be designed to strengthen the body’s natural qi so that it can win against the pathogen. 

Here is a quick overview of the first layers of illness. If you have some of these symptoms, especially with sudden onset or a very quick onset, it is essential to get help quickly to “catch” it at the first, and not wait until the pathogen has launched a full attack. 

First layer: Aversion to cold, feeling cold, shivers, a stiff or painful neck, possible headache. Your acupuncturist may notice a pale complexion, withdrawn posture, and a floating pulse. 

Second layer: Alternating chills and fever, or a high fever; sweating, thirst, irritability, and feeling very hot. The pathogen has penetrated the exterior and moved interior where it turned into heat. Your acupuncturist may notice a red face, and a red tongue with yellow coating, and a rapid or overflowing pulse. 

What the Body is Telling You 

In Oriental medicine, our body systems are inextricably linked with emotions, and imbalanced emotions are one of the causes of illness. The Western concept of the “bodymind” supports this. All Classical medicine focuses on balancing the triad of Mind, Body, and Spirit. Grief, sadness, and depression impact the Lungs, interrupting their function of diffusing qi properly and leaving a weakened Wei Qi. Frustration, anger, or resentment impact the Liver, resulting in stagnant qi and a condition known as Yang Rising. The Spleen plays a part in controlling the lymphatic system, which is involved in the transport of immune cells and the purification of the blood. What might a depleted immune system be telling us? 

  • Lung Qi Deficiency (frequent colds, shortness of breath): Sadness, grief, a lack of organization, depleted qi from overworking 
  • Liver Qi Stagnation (muscle pain or tightness, muscle imbalances): Anger, frustration, resentment, feeling “stuck”, not knowing how to move forward, lack of mental flexibility, unresolved negative feelings
  • Wei Qi depletion: Lack of boundaries or personal defenses. Unhealed mental wounds from the past. Disturbance of sleep-wake cycle. Lack of balance of movement vs. relaxation. A lack of nurturing. 

Each of these clues from the body describe a fundamental imbalance, an imbalance of Yin and Yang. The “Middle Path” in Oriental Medicine describes the process of seeking to balance aspects of life that affect us physically and mentally. For example, overwork should be balanced with less work and more play. Resentment should be balanced with movement, taking action to prevent “stuck” (stagnant) qi. Opposites in Oriental Medicine are complementary. A depleted immune system is balanced with acupuncture and lifestyle changes to circulate qi properly, strengthen fortifications against pathogenic invaders, and nurturing the organ systems responsible for the creation of Wei Qi. 

Acupuncture for Wei Qi (Immune System) Support

In your session with the acupuncturist, relevant points to fortify the immune system for the prevention of illness will be used. First, the acupuncturist will look at your tongue and take the pulses in six locations to see the state of health of the organ systems. Then a treatment with acupuncture will be put together. While you lie comfortably on the table, the treatment begins to take effect. You and your acupuncturist may decide together to use a strategy from the Materia Medica. This might involve the use of moxibustion (the heating of acupuncture points with herbs for therapeutic purposes), food therapy to fortify the qi and improve nutrition, and herbal support for the immune system. 

The Effectiveness of Oriental Medicine for Immune Support

As you can see, Oriental Medicine offers a complete and well-established system for boosting the immune system. This is done in a natural, noninvasive way that relaxes the mind and strengthens the body. If you believe you have a depleted immune system, it is best to seek treatment sooner rather than later so that your acupuncturist can pinpoint the root cause of the illness and help you feel better faster. 

© Family Care Acupuncture. Classical Acupuncture Clinic in Mobile, Alabama. 


*Harriet Bienfield, Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

*Maoshing Ni, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine

Introduction to Tao Nutrition

Finding a food and cooking/ lifestyle section in an Acupuncture website may sound puzzling to some. However, the reason is simple. In Oriental Medicine, one of the principal causes of disease are lifestyle and food habits (Suwen, Chapter 1).

  In ancient times, people were naturally tuned to their environment, seasons and the food available with them, by natural cycles and geographic harmony. Not so long ago people were still in connection with these natural ways and for them, the idea of eating a tomato in winter was seen as impossible.

  In earlier times and even in the West before the industrial revolution of the XIX century, people were aware of sapor qualities and energetic of food, herbs, culinary or medicinal or both were part of this understanding. Tradition and knowledge were passed on generation to generation to preserve and improve this patrimony.

  Then, a modern way of life came along and people moved into town to enjoy career opportunities, entertainment, progress, etc but on the other hand detached themselves from the connection with nature.

  Many wonderful things come with progress and I am in no way promoting a romantic dreamy vision of the past, but when it comes to food and an healthy relation to it, a clear break happened where taste buds and eye pleasing food became more important than a rational yet pleasing nutrition and energetic balance to preserve health.

  Also, the insatiable need for novelties and trend builds confusion in people, offering an abundance of exercises programs and dogmatic diets, each one presented to be the right and only one for everybody.

  That is where the Tao of nutrition marks the difference, by offering an education about the sapor and energetic qualities of whole foods as well as the way to prepare and cook them, keeping the focus on the needs of each person, in respect of their constitution and,or present state of health. Consciousness about cooking habits, lifestyle and a mindfulness about the energetic and medicinal qualities of each ingredients are really the key stone of the tao nutrition.

Now this knowledge associated with acupuncture is important. Through his diagnosis, the  acupuncturist (who has studied the Tao nutrition) will be able to guide the patient to a refined choice of ingredients and food preparation to help recovering a good state of health.

Finally, even if Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai cooking is fun and very interesting, it is not necessary to master these styles of cooking to follow the Tao nutrition. Occidental cooking can do it just fine, actually any style can integrate the tao of nutrition, except….tossing a frozen dinner tray in the microwave.

 Therefore, along this section, we will develop articles about concept of oriental medicine and their applications in the nutrition (yin/yang, the five elements with their energetic, sapor …) Cooking techniques and  their energetic qualities, single or family of food explained, herbs in cooking ,etc… Then of course, recipes (I myself being originally from France, there will be some traditional french cooking explained and adapted to the Tao nutrition). 

 All of that to helps reconnect with fun and confidence to the kitchen, dining table with a fresh new eye to an healthier, natural and pleasant way of life.

7 Things to Know About Acupuncture

What are the main things you need to know about Acupuncture? Here is a summary to answer questions about the healthcare option that is helping people live free of inflammation, pain, anxiety, and excesses of medication.

  1. It is safe and noninvasive: Sterile, single-use needles combined with the proper techniques creates a gentle healing process that the body accepts easily. 
  2. Not painful: We use very thin needles and practice gentle needle insertion. Most people feel energized, relaxed, and a sense of wellbeing following treatment. 
  3. Effective: The World Health Organization lists acupuncture as proven effective for 28+ conditions. Decades of modern research plus thousands of years of traditional use support acupuncture as an effective option for many different conditions. 
  4. Works well with other therapies: Acupuncture will not negatively interfere with conventional medicine, physical therapy, or any other therapy but supports the overall healing process. 
  5. An individualized treatment: Acupuncturists take into account health history, body type, diet, emotions, and your unique goals when creating a treatment, for a treatment well-suited to your needs. 
  6. A relaxing experience: Acupuncture is a fun experience that feels a lot a mini vacation where your mind can relax while the body has time for repair and rejuvenation. People who have trouble meditating or relaxing may find that acupuncture allows them to let go of their troubles when the body goes through the healing process.
  7. Treats many different conditions: Why is it that people go to see the Acupuncturist for so many different things? One person goes to reduce face wrinkles and another is treated for sport injury or digestive problems…this is because Acupuncture is a complete system of care within Oriental medicine. It views the body holistically as a system of chi and meridians. This holistic system allows a treatment for many different conditions. One of the strengths of Acupuncture is that it is a preventative or maintenance care. You do not need to have a condition to receive acupuncture treatment, but can have it for a “tune up” of your energy and chi flow or relaxation.

© Family Care Acupuncture 2020. Acupuncture clinic in Mobile, Alabama.

Can I get Acupuncture in Mobile, Alabama?

Where can I get acupuncture in Mobile, Alabama?

Is acupuncture available in Mobile, Alabama? What about classical acupuncture? Mobile residents want to know. Perhaps you have looked up, “Acupuncture near me” or “Acupuncturist near me” without satisfactory results. The good news is, there are acupuncture clinics in Mobile, Alabama. One in particular provides classical acupuncture to the Mobile area: Family Care Acupuncture.

Family Care Acupuncture: 6925 Cottage Hill Road

Family Care Acupuncture is a small, family-run clinic conveniently located on Cottage Hill Road. We provide authentic, comfortable acupuncture care at an affordable price. Classical acupuncture, to put it simply, is “old school” acupuncture, which addresses your health concerns through the chi (qi) and meridians.

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective healthcare option, well suited for treating common concerns including: back pain, anxiety including PTSD, depression, weight loss, migraines, fertility, muscle pain, digestive complaints, menopause symptoms and more.

Perhaps you have heard of acupuncture for mood support, sports, and fertility. The media frequently reports on them, so acupuncture for these purposes is gaining popularity. However, most people do not know that acupuncture can treat a wide variety of conditions.

At Family Care Acupuncture, we are Licensed Acupuncturists and dedicated practitioners of the classical style. We believe that acupuncture helps people gain balance, reclaim their health, and enjoy life more.

What is Classical Acupuncture?

Classical acupuncture is a tradition of Oriental Medicine that emphasizes treatment specific to the individual, study of the original classical acupuncture texts, and designing treatments in the traditional way (balancing yin and yang, the meridians, elements, and flow of chi).

For example, two people might have the same low back pain. In other systems, these two people might receive the same treatment. In Classical acupuncture, they would receive two different treatments because each person has a unique body type, health history, diet, and daily routine.

Classical acupuncture designs a customized treatment for each person because it takes into account individual characteristics.

What kind of conditions can acupuncture treat?

Modern research supports the use of acupuncture for many health concerns. Here are a few of them. It is not yet possible to provide a complete list of everything that acupuncture may help, because Oriental medicine is very focused on the individual and prevention. As research moves forward, the lists may change.

Mental / Emotional: anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD, seasonal depression (SAD)

Immune system: chronic colds, ear infections, sinusitis, autoimmune disorders, allergies, low immunity

Energy and sleep: chronic fatigue syndrome, general fatigue, insomnia, sleep apnea

Painful conditions: headache/ migraines, arthritis, inflammation, back pain, low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, sport injury, fibromyalgia, TMJ syndrome

Digestion: constipation, poor digestion, IBS, bloating, food sensitivities

Women’s health: hot flashes, menopause, PMS, menstruation issues, cramps, heavy periods, fertility

Men’s health: erectile dysfunction, fertility, prostate health

Other: Eye and vision problems, smoking cessation, breaking the cycle of addictions, urinary disorders, liver and kidney function

How do I make an appointment?

Call our clinic at any time to schedule your appointment. We value each and every client and look forward to serving you.

Tell a friend.

If you believe a loved one can benefit from acupuncture treatment, the best thing you can do is tell them about it. Refer them to our website or facebook page, or give them a card. We appreciate each and every referral.

Acupuncture is a safe, noninvasive system with 3000+ years of traditional usage and decades of modern research. But the best way to know if acupuncture will work is to come experience it. Family Care Acupuncture provides authentic acupuncture at an affordable price. We are experienced acupuncture practitioners (LAc) who truly care about health and wellbeing. We look forward to seeing you!