Immunity is a hot topic
in the news these days. In addition to it being
cold and flu season, the H1N1 Virus has more people
asking me how they can support their immune systems.
To answer those questions and more, see my recent
article entitled Colds
& the Flu.
In the very real sense, our immune
system defends us against microbial attackers
like bacteria and viruses. It does so through
our intact skin, our nasal passages, and our digestive
system. When working properly, it is incredibly
effective and efficient. Throughout the year,
how many days are you actually sick? If your answer
is the vast minority, then your immune system
is quite strong. And when you do get sick, like
in the case of food poisoning, observe how quickly
it responds to rid your body of the toxins.
Now, I am the first person to
admit that sometimes a cold is just a cold. But
when faced with on-going immune challenges like
food and air allergies, asthma, frequent colds
and the flu, respiratory problems, and auto-immune
conditions, we must begin to ask the same question
we ask for any chronic condition: why is my body
not repairing itself? The answer can lie not just
in the physical body but at deeper levels as well.
Immunity is about discerning Self
from Non-Self. What is mine? And what is not mine?
What do I allow in? And what do I appropriately
keep out? In fact every cell in our bodies including
the organ of our skin, is comprised of a semi-permeable
membrane which functions to allow a very fluid
exchange with our environment, the strength of
which is within our control.
This is about having healthy boundaries.
Are mine so rigid I allow no outside influence?
Do I not allow myself to receive the love of friends
and family? Have I so disconnected from my immune
system that it takes a serious health condition
to get my attention? Or perhaps my boundaries
are so porous that I take on the world’s
problems as my own. Perhaps I am constantly asking
my immune system to work over time fending off
invaders that I allow in.
Discovering clarity about this
begins by establishing a clear sense of Self.
If I know who I am, I know who I am in reference
to someone else. If I know what my issues are,
I know what issues are not mine.
Let’s take the example of
allergies. Allergies are a hyper-reactivity to
our environment. They reflect confusion within
your immune system about how to respond to a perceived
attacker. That no matter how common place this
“invader” may be, like dust, your
system kicks into high gear. Even the mildest
trigger elicits a severe response. When did this
hyper-sensitivity begin? Was there a time when
as a child you were consistently under attack?
This could have been due to a chronic illness,
over-prescribing of medications before your immune
system was intact, or even from a lack of physical
safety at home. Perhaps these “attacks”
occurred so subtly over time that all you experience
on a daily basis today is a curious hyper-vigilance
to your surroundings; perhaps you experience an
under-current of fear even in the most familiar
places; perhaps you have not felt comfortable
in your own skin; perhaps you have allergies.
The road to recovery from a chronically
compromised immune system is shaped by addressing
both the physical body—controlling symptoms
and rebalancing the system to prevent further
recurrences—and the psycho-emotional body—disentangling
your sense of Self from Non-Self. Through the
use of acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs,
we can work at both levels to finally help you
regain what you deserve to have, a healthy and
vital immune system.