Corona Strategies - Looking after your Lungs & Immunity
Immunity obviously cannot be reduced to one organ or system. Rather, good overall health fundamentals discussed here are the way to ensure you maintain effective personal immunity.
However, the Lung system is a significant part of the immune system and is worth focussing a bit of our attention here when it comes to concerns about Coronavirus. Common symptoms of Coronavirus include, initially, a sore throat and dry cough together with or followed by fever.
The main thing to notice here is that there is a build-up of dryness and heat in the respiratory system. In Acupuncture we call this "Lung Heat".
One of the functions of the lungs is to provide an exhaust system for excess heat in the chest and the internal organs just beneath the diaphragm. This happens by:
literally breathing out. This carries heat and exhaust gasses out of the body; and
by the healthy function of the Lung Meridian. This circulates heat collected in the Lungs to the skin surface of the entire body. This heat keeps us warm and thus allows for the appropriate opening and closing of the pores of the skin.
The continued movement of warmth to, and radiation from, the skin and mucous surfaces of the body (including the lining of the lung) is essentially our external defence system. This is the function of the Lung Meridian. This is the first part of our immune system - the first line of defence against the external environment and pathogens. We should therefore do what we can to optimise both the out-breath and the function of the Lung Meridian.
Your Lung Meridian begins in the lungs/ chest and extends down bicep and fore-arm into the thumb. You can stimulate your Lung meridian in many ways. Here are a few ideas, but please be creative and work with whatever makes sense for you:
Yes, give yourself a hearty slap on the chest! A slightly cupped hand is best. Slap gently but firmly, starting in the middle of the chest. Move outwards, concentrating for a while at the hollow where your chest becomes your shoulder (see Lu1 and Lu2 in the image).
You can then move down the bicep muscle and along the forearm. If you want to take it all the way to the end of the meridian, you can pinch the thumb at the corners of the nail-bed between your opposite thumb and forefinger and give the thumb a bit of a twiddle.
If you really cup your hand (as if trying to retain water in it) and try to trap the air as you slap, it will be more comfortable and the percussive effect will add to the effectiveness of clearing out the lung system. Have a look at this short video for a clearer demonstration.
The Lung Meridian can be stimulated in all manner of ways. If you are a bit tired, or are simply not up for slapping, you can stroke the Lung meridian as if you are stroking a cat. The Lung Meridian runs pretty much at the skin's surface, so this will also be effective, even through thin clothing layers like a sweater.
Be nice to yourself and stroke all the way along the meridian from shoulder and off the end of the thumb - Give it a try for up to a minute or so each side, perhaps alternating every few strokes. You will be surprised how good it feels! Here is another video for demonstration and more explanation of how it works.
The Lung meridian is the main event, but actually the Lung is associated with the entire skin surface. Body-brushing is a well-know technique with all sorts of benefits. For our purposes, I suggest a SOFT brush.
An ideal brush type is that you used to find on your grandmother's dressing table. I don't know why brushes have changed. Hair is much the same, I believe... Perhaps it's because we now have plastics. Anyway, the old-style brushes had soft flexible bristles. This can be used to brush slowly along the Lung Meridian, again away from the chest is best. It should feel good. If it doesn't you are probably using a brush that is too hard.
If you want to use a hard brush, I would suggest using this instead in the shower, possibly with soap to soften things a little. A nicer alternative is a natural sponge or loofah - you can use this to generate a slight glowing pinkness on the skin. Sanding yourself to draw blood is over-kill.
AIR-BRUSHING - upper back & nape
Another key area for the immune system and radiating excess heat away from the lungs is the upper back and nape. One way to help is, counterintuitively, to actually warm it up. This area is susceptible to cold and wind and at that time the pores of the skin can get locked shut, trapping heat inside. This often leads to tight muscles in this area.
One of the simplest ways to relax this area and improve the radiation is to use a hairdryer to warm the neck and shoulders. Try using the free hand to stroke/ rub the area lightly at the same time. A minute or so feels pretty good. You can also apply the same along the Lung Meridian.
Look again where the Lung Meridian emerges from the chest in the hollow of the shoulder. Can you see how restricted it will quickly become with the posture we can often find we spend so much of our day in: hunched over a laptop or, perhaps worse, both thumbs on a smartphone. Any movements to open up the chest and shoulders and allow the diaphragm to move correctly will be really beneficial.
Anything from simply raising your arms above your head (have you actually done this today yet?), rotating the shoulders, moving the chest, rotating the arms... the possibilities are endless.
Actually, as with most things, little and often is the most effective strategy. Some kind of movement of the arms/ chest every 15-20 minutes, even if its simply to stretch above/ behind your head (away from your phone or laptop!), will have a significant effect over the day.
In terms of dietary advice, spicy foods will warm the body a little. Spicy flavours are considered to strengthen the action of the Lung Meridian as it has the same effect: The warming effect is concentrated on the skin surfaces and it opens the pores to allow the heat to radiate and escape.
Thus to support the Lung Meridian function (and the associated immune function), it can be useful to add a little bit of spice to our food. A Vindaloo or a Fahl may be overkill. Adding a little Paprika, Turmeric or Chilli Flake to your dish will have an effect. In general, we are not looking to sweat, but rather a mild warming or 'glow'. For non-savory, don't forget a sprinkle of Cinnamon or Nutmeg. Ground Ginger is excellent too.
Important: If you are coughing/ have a fever, this dietary advice can vary significantly depending on the stage of the disease process. Please contact me if you have such symptoms so that the correct approach can be worked out individually for you in your case.
What can I say here… Breathe! For our purposes, an emphasis on the out-breath is actually most useful. This is the part of the breath which is involved with movement of heat out of the Lung (and also with the function of the Lung Meridian described above).
There are many excellent breathing techniques and exercises out there. They all have their value and place. Please try any and all of them! I will post a newsletter/ video specifically on breathing - this is a topic in itself.
Moxa is such an amazing tool to use and very simple! You can do it yourself at home!
I will post a newsletter and a video on this in the next few days... in the meantime, if you are interested, order some moxa now from Amazon...