It is that time of year – flu season. And it seems to be particularly common these past few weeks – sick kids home from school, missed work days, long lines outside of public health clinics. So how to stay healthy this winter? There are a multitude of things you can do to boost your immune system and ready your body to fight off pathogens – these include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, getting regular acupuncture, and supplementing with Chinese Herbal Medicine. You can also give yourself acupressure at these immune-boosting points – I’d suggest making it a regular part of your daily routine. Stimulate each point with firm downward (inward) pressure for at least 5 minutes, morning and evening. Note that these points are intended to boost immunity BEFORE you get sick – they aren’t necessarily appropriate once you feel cold symptoms starting.
ST36, Zu San Li
This point is located about 3 inches below the knee, one finger-breadth lateral (outside) of the shinbone, and is probably the most used acupuncture point in clinical practice. Stomach 36 (ST36) builds up the body’s Qi (natural energy) to boost immunity.
TW5, Wai Guan
This acupuncture point is located on the back of the forearm, about 2/12 finger breadths up from the wrist crease. To find, place your middle three fingers of your opposite hand over the wrist, so that that edge of your ring finger lies on top of the crease of the wrist. Your pointer finger lies at the level of TW5. The point is located between the two bones of the forearm in the muscle. Triple Warmer 5 (TW5) specifically strengthens the body’s Wei Qi, which is the outer-most Qi that fights off external pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
KD27, Shu Fu
This point is located in the depression below the clavicle (shoulder blade) where it meets the sternum (breast bone). Kidney 27 (KD27) opens the chest to better circulate the Qi of the chest, which helps the body to fight off disease. It also lifts our body’s energy so that it is awake and alert to deal with whatever illnesses we may be exposed to.
LI4, He Gu
This point is found on the back of the hand, between the thumb (1st metacarpal bone) and pointer finger (2nd metacarpal bone), level with the midpoint of the 2nd metacarpal bone. Large Intestine 4 is an excellent point for expelling pathogens, especially when you are experiencing cold symptoms in the head and face. It also boosts the Wei Qi and has been shown in clinical studies to strengthen immunity.