Our immune system has three lines of defense:
Physical and chemical barriers
The inflammatory response
The immune response
One easy way to keep most organisms out of the body is to keep them from penetrating the physical barriers such as the skin and the mucous membranes. Once they get inside the body they will trigger the inflammatory and immune responses which then get quite complicated.
In TCM, we have a unique approach to keeping pathogens at bay. From a preventive perspective, I teach people to watch out for signs of vulnerability in their daily life, such as poor sleep, stress, anxiety, depression, pain, low energy, fatigue, poor appetite, irregularity, no thirst, too much thirst, sweating too much or too little, cold extremities, mouth sore, dry mouth, inactivity with no exercise, cravings for too much sweets, salt, and other unhealthy, processed foods. Top of this list is not getting enough sleep which has been linked to a number of mental and physical health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system. Our immune system is designed to protect us from colds, flu, and other ailments. A compromised immune system also makes our recovery from minor ailments more difficult, thus causing more absenteeism at work. Any of the above signs or a combination of them should alert us to seek professional help. People tend to wait too long only seeking help after they have developed compounded health problems such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. People who do seek help sooner, get better sooner, thus incur less costs too. Another added benefit is that we may eliminate root causes so the affliction does not return. In preventive medicine, I believe the name of the game is to keep our immune system up way ahead of any looming health problems.
In diagnosing patients, I take an inventory of the eight parameters as a first step in diagnosis. The parameters are Exterior/Interior for depth of the disease; Hot/Cold for nature of the disease, Excess/Deficiency for disease strength vs body’s strength to fight, and Yin/Yang for overall quality of the body. These will enable me to determine in broad terms the location, quality and the strength of a disease. Whether it’s Acupuncture or Chinese Herbal Medicine that my patients receive, the treatment principle is to relieve each patient’s unique signs and symptoms by adjusting such parameters as Qi, Blood, Body Fluid, internal thermal temperature of Heat/Cold, Dampness, Wind, Yin/Yang, Stress, Emotion, or Exterior/Interior factors.