Now that nearly all of us in the world are staying indoors, or serving Stay Home Notice, or are WFH (working from home), and the city is in lockdown, etc etc, we have almost no access to the lifestyle habits that we think are good for health and immunity.
And, with That World-Changing, Covid-19 Virus floating in the air everywhere, what is a person on home quarantine to do, in order to stay healthy and strong?
Before you read on, allow me to just disclaim a few things first.
1. All the ideas here are inspired by – if not, related to – holistic TCM wellness.
2. I am not a TCM physician. I just happen to get to learn more in this field from TCM physicians.
3. You won’t see Science lingo being used professionally here, sorry.
4. If you’re not familiar with TCM’s philosophy, some of the text here might come across as unconventional. (TCM’s school of thought, indeed, was never meant to be explained with Science.)
5. You will not be reading about eating more fruits or specific veggies. Neither will you see links to expensive health supplements.
6. You’re encouraged to read with an open mind.
Disclaimer: By reading this post, you accept that the content is intended to be educational, not to be used as diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. If you have specific health issues, consult a trusted, professional medical practitioner, before using any of the information here.
TCM & Toxin-Free Methods to Boost Your Immune System at Home, While Your City Goes on Lockdown
Firstly, ancient TCM (as opposed to Modern Chinese Medicine / Modern Traditional (?!??) Chinese Medicine), advocates that the most effective way to stay healthy is to Not Destroy your health. Ancient TCM believes every person should take a preventive, proactive, and protective approach towards taking care of his own health.
1. Get your sleep at the RIGHT time.
This sleep issue is important enough to be the first point.
Quality sleep means to sleep at the right time, and wake up at the right time. TCM doesn’t talk about the minimum number of hours to sleep in a day. It will only advise you what time to sleep, in line with nature. If you sleep at the right time, the sleep will benefit your system. If you sleep at the wrong time, it will damage it instead – which means you slept for nothing. Now, if you sleep the complete opposite of the time you should be sleeping, it’s as good as killing your health.
The correct time for sleeping is closely connected to the sunset and sunrise hours where you’re at. You’re advised to go to bed about 2 hours after sunset in your country, and wake up 1-2 hours before sunrise. If in Singapore, perhaps sleeping at 8.30pm is too much to ask for. How about trying 10pm?
2. Detox, mindfully.
I specify the word “mindfully”, because the other side of the spectrum is over-working out, which will then cut down your system’s vital energy – the Qi – mentioned often in my TCM-inspired articles.
The human body detoxes through a few methods, such as:
1. Through the biggest organ in our body – the skin (perspiration through pores);
2. Excretion – which I don’t need to talk about here.
Stay active, mindfully. Join virtual yoga classes.
And I will always encourage people to give yoga a try.
A lot of yoga studios have switched to offering virtual yoga classes this period, teachers holding real-time classes while you practise at home. We had never been able to achieve these during dial-up modem times, so I really appreciate what technology and fast broadband have gifted us!
Check MindBody app for available virtual classes, or consider pre-recorded yoga programs such as those on Alo Moves, or Yoga Download. There are also countless free yoga videos on Youtube, such as Yoga with Adriene!
If you’ve never ever tried yoga before, I encourage starting off with a Basics/Beginner class, or Hatha!
3. Get some sun.
Only during early morning or late afternoon please.
In TCM’s eyes, the sun is your best friend for killing toxic cells within your body. The sun can also boost your immune system. And it’s free. Did you know, Vitamin D enables your body to absorb calcium? Where do you get Vitamin D? From the sun of course!
TCM-recommended method: Sun your back.
While at the fasting retreat which I mentioned briefly in this post, we’ll be outdoors early in the morning, doing light qigong and stretches, with our backs to the sun. A person’s back includes two major Meridien Channels, called 督脉 and 膀胱经. The lower back also has some important acupoints (命门, 肾俞) that are related to the kidney system. This sunning method might be the toughest to achieve for a lot of people being locked indoors right now, especially if you live in an urban city, in a high-rise building. If you have a balcony, see if you might be able to grab some of the early morning or the late afternoon sun. Go to the windows. Let the sunlight stream into your room/hall.
Gentle reminder: For Singaporeans living life during the Circuit Breaker period, you can still head to the park for some outdoor sun, *alone* though.
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4. Take good care of your mood and emotions.
TCM is holistic. Should your mood goes down, TCM believes that negative toxins start to build up in your system. With those, as well as blockages of the Qi flow, this will result in your immunity dropping.
You can take it that if you’re a mean person towards your family members especially during this period, your immune system will go down. So will your family members bearing the brunt of your temper. Be nice to one another.
Even if you feel stuck at home, it’s just your physical body being confined at home. In mind and spirit, you can still wander. Connect with someone dear. Text a good friend. Video-call the person you’re always happy to see. Cry your frustration out. Journal the shit out of the mess in your head. Meditate. Tell yourself: You’re not stuck indoors – you’re staying safe at home.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you did ‘nothing productive’ with so much more time on your hands. Forgive yourself if you did nothing except juggled all your other responsibilities and roles at home. Give your house-mates a break – and yourself too, because even animals will turn crazy being confined in a limited space with another.
5. Don’t over-eat.
If you’re eating till you feel full from every meal, you’re definitely over-eating. Now, what has polishing off all your food and snacks got to do with the immune system? Simple.
If your body is burdened with the task of digesting and processing all the food you ate, it will not have the bandwidth to do other jobs. Such as: fixing your health issues, rejuvenating and regenerating cells, purging toxins, restoring energy, and so on.
And don’t eat too late for dinner.
6. Don’t over-cool your body…
with that fan, cooler, and aircon.
Currently, in Singapore (and China) we’re in the middle of spring, transiting into summer soon. The temperature is getting warmer by the day.
However, if you’re constantly staying in a room chilled to 21ºC, blanket/jacket or not, you’re telling your internal system (kidney system) to keep producing heat to protect you from freezing, even if you might not feel it yourself that you’re freezing. The kidney system is like a battery source for your body. Use it up too fast and you’ll run out of power soon.
For newborn babies, a skilled, caring TCM physician will never suggest that it’s ok for the baby to stay in an aircon-ed room with the mother. Each breath the baby inhales is cold air, directly entering the lungs – the last organ to be fully developed for a newborn baby.
Here’s what to do: If you really can’t be without aircon, 26ºC or very lowest, 25ºC, will be the threshold. If using a fan or cooler instead, the wind should not be directed on your body, but towards the walls to chill the interior space.
7. Do moxibustion therapy.
Moxibustion explained: Through the use of heat, the medicinal effects of this moxa herb are believed to help clear blockages via acupoints (which are specific points along pathways in the body, known as Meridien Channels). The moxa herb is considered an item made of pure Yang energy (unless you buy low-quality ones), which thus boosts the vital energy in your body. This Covid-10 virus-rampant period, I like to do moxibustion on these acupoints: 命门, 大椎, 神厥 (navel button), 关元, 足三里.
The smoke from pure moxa sticks also has antibacterial properties, which means I’m purifying my room’s air at the same time 😃
Unfortunately, any sort of paid TCM therapy service has to stop this #CircuitBreaker period in Singapore, as it’s considered non-essential 😞
If you happen to be a fan of TCM just like me, and coincidentally have pure moxibustion sticks at home, this is a good time to boost your immune system using moxibustion therapy.
Note these basic rules about doing moxibustion!
- Do it in the daytime.
- Drink only hot water before and after moxibustion.
- Don’t shower for at least 6 hours after moxibustion. Skip chilled drinks.
- Minimize touching water as much as you can, after doing this therapy.
- Cover applied skin surfaces (the acupoints) well after a session.
*Bonus! Actual TCM tips to protect yourself further from the risks of that virus
If you’ve been reading about Covid-19, or seen scientific/medical reports about what happens to the body when a person gets infected by Coronavirus, you’ll know this virus attacks the lungs and respiratory system, other than the immune system. In the worst cases, the problems result in breathing difficulties, multiple organs’ failure, and death. Initial post-mortem reports indicated “a large amount of discharge blocking their bronchus, thus preventing them from getting enough oxygen”.
I won’t go into detail on how 痰湿 is formed within the human body, but will share about taking care of your lung system in this section!
8. Should shit really happen, don’t get too sad.
Grief and/or worrying are believed to hurt the lung system. Should something unfortunate happen during this period, really, try to not get overly sad. When things are uncertain, take care to not worry too much.
At this Covid-19 period, nothing is certain anymore for all of us in this world. Whatever that’s beyond your control, let us learn to let go.
In addition, 思伤脾 – over-thinking hurts the spleen system. The spleen system (am not referring to the organ) is the most important link in the entire digestive system, so don’t think nor worry too much. What’s meant to be will find a way.
9. Avoid bananas.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine concept, bananas are harmful to the lung system. Thus, bananas should be avoided, especially for people with respiratory ailments like asthma. I know, this is very hard to accept because we had all been taught to see bananas as high-fibre which will help with constipation.
Well, if I can be used as a real-life example, I can count the number of this fruit I’ve eaten in my entire 30+ years of life, using one hand. Yep.
10. Minimize or Totally Skip the Cold / Iced Drinks.
That coldness from the ice is going straight into your system. As a warm-blooded human, you should know that without heat, a body is no longer a living one. That coldness will also impact your lungs negatively.
Additionally, when the cold goes to your stomach, it decreases the heat within, and also slows down food digestion.
11. Drink 黄芪 infused in hot water to boost your Qi.
This herb (黄芪, Astragalus Propinquus) is close to being a miracle herb to me. It has a nickname called 小人参 – Little Ginseng, so cute! Medical research purported this herb to “enhance the immune system and reduce inflammation” (source).
Drinking this herb infused in hot water helped me go through different reactions I had during fasting retreats, such as fatigue or having little energy. I even drink it on tougher trips like to Eastern Bhutan.
Ps: Be careful of your herbs’ sources. I only drink 野生黄芪 (pure and organic) which had not been treated with sulphur before.
That’s all I have about boosting your immunity at home! Hope the information shared in this post will benefit you while we #StayHome together!