There has been a lot of talk about the immune system over the last couple of years.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of people and businesses coming out with claims of various foods, supplements, and procedures which are supposed to boost your immune system and help guard against the virus.
As a Mississauga naturopath I want to stress that although there are no naturopathic remedies for COVID-19, the best defence against specific viruses is to get vaccinated.
There are, however, things you can do to strengthen your immune system as a whole.
Today we’re going to look at acupuncture, and the benefits it can have on your immune system.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Your Immune System?
The immune system is your body’s defense against microbes (parasites, virus, fungi, and bacteria) which can result in infection.
It also protects against toxins and cells that can potentially become cancerous.
It consists of cells, tissues, and organs including:
- White blood cells, which travel through the blood and attack foreign cells
- Antibodies that are proteins produced by a specific type of white blood cells, which recognize foreign substances
- The complement system, made up of proteins which work alongside antibodies
- Bone marrow which produces blood cells
- The spleen, an organ which creates antibodies
- The lymphatic system which moves fluid throughout the body and helps protect against infection
- The thymus which produces T-lymphocyte cells
The skin, lungs, and digestive tract can also help defend the body from microbes.
Your skin acts as a barrier to keep them out, mucus in the lungs helps traps foreign particles, and stomach acid in the digestive tract helps kill microbes.
That’s why naturopathic medicine for digestive health is so significant – your digestive tract contributes to so many different elements of health, including your immune system.
Causes Of Weak Immune System
Have you ever known someone to be constantly ill, or who experiences frequent infections?
This may be the result of a weakened immune system.
Some causes of a weak immune system can be controlled, such as:
Autoimmune disorders can also lead to a weakened immune system.
Naturopathic medicine can offer treatment for such conditions, including:
- Naturopathic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis
- Naturopathic treatments for Graves’ disease
- Naturopathic treatments for eczema
- Naturopathic treatments for Celiac disease
- Naturopathic treatments for type 1 diabetes
- And many others
HIV and AIDS are two particularly strong autoimmune disorders that significantly weaken the body’s immune system, leaving you susceptible to other diseases.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which involves placing thin needles at specific, strategic points on the body.
These are called acupuncture points.
The theory behind acupuncture is that when a needle is inserted into the skin, it signals the body to respond by releasing endorphins, increasing circulation, and stimulating brain activity.
From a traditional perspective, acupuncture needles are placed along meridian lines in your body where energy flows.
The needles stimulate that energy flow, which can help promote your body’s ability to heal itself.
Acupuncture has been scientifically proven to aid in a number of different health related situations, including:
- Adjunctive cancer care
- A natural insomnia solution
- To relieve menopause symptoms
- To get seasonal allergy relief
- To lower your risk of heart disease
- A natural chronic pain relief treatment
- And much more
How Can Acupuncture Help Strengthen Your Immune System?
Acupuncture can be used to help regulate immune system function and provide treatment for underlying causes of disease.
By stimulating the autonomic nervous system, acupuncture helps to lessen symptoms, stimulate the body’s immune response, and accelerate healing.
Although some are quick to dismiss acupuncture, there are a number of peer reviewed scientific studies which back it up as an effective way to help with a growing number of conditions.
Today we’re going to look at some of these studies.
A 2007 study in the American journal of Chinese Medicine looked at the effects of acupuncture treatment on anxious women.
It’s a commonly accepted idea that chronic anxiety can have a negative effect on the immune system, and experiencing constant stress can lead to increased vulnerability to infections.
The 2007 study looked at blood samples of anxious women, compared to a control group of women who don’t experience anxiety, before and after acupuncture treatments, and found favourable effects on immune function in the group receiving acupuncture.
Another article, in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine looked at the effect of acupuncture on immune system cells.
Using acupuncture can help increase the number of immune cells in the body, including T-cells, white blood cells, and red blood cells.
The final study we will look at today examined the effects of acupuncture in rats.
To do this they compared three groups of rats
1) A control group (which did not receive any treatment)
2) A group which received acupuncture stimulation to the abdominal muscle
3) A group which received acupuncture stimulation to a specific acupoint
The group which received acupuncture at a specific acupoint saw notable increases in interferon gamma (IFN-γ), a protein in the blood which is critical to the growth of immune cells.
As you can see from these three studies, the outlook for acupuncture as a means to strengthen the immune system is positive.
Book An Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
Are you curious about acupuncture?
Aside from strengthening the immune system, it has a wide array of other uses, including as a way of providing treatment for headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, sleep issues, knee pain and many more conditions.
I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a naturopathic doctor at the Mindful Healing Clinic and I have been trained in the use of acupuncture as a therapy for a variety of health issues.
Book a consultation with me today, to find out
if acupuncture treatment is right for you.