There is a tidal wave of information going around right now about ways to strengthen your immune system.
Some of that information, like getting enough Vitamin C, eating well, and reducing stress is accurate and helpful.
However, there’s a lot of fear-based, sales-driven hype flying around too. Our immune systems have an amazing organizing intelligence, and while there are wonderful herbs and formulas that may be helpful, I’ll invite you to shift perspective for a minute from “What can I take/consume?” to “How can I harness and radiate this amazing intelligence that is my immune system?”
[Notice I said “harness” not “boost”! For more immune-nourishing strategies, check out my previous post: “Strategies to Support and Fortify (vs. “Boost”) Your Immune System: A Classical Chinese Medicine Wisdom for Optimal Health”.]
That’s what I LOVE about teaching and practicing Qigong.
This humble, gentle, meditative martial arts-based practice is accessible to anyone willing to learn, and will fortify your immune system just as well (if not better) than most pricey “immune-boosting” supplements. Please don’t misunderstand, as an herbalist, I love herbs, and I am so grateful to have witnessed their amazing power of healing in many patients throughout the decades. I guess I am somewhat of a health economist, in that why not use what you already have inside, and then if you need something outside yourself to supplement that good foundation, it is a great return on your investment: investment of time, money, energy, and consciousness.
This is why Qigong has been recommended in combination with acupuncture, nutrition, and herbs for centuries to prevent disease, provide for healing, and promote optimal quality of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Today, modern science has begun proving what the ancients have always known about the immunomodulating effects of Qigong.
Let’s learn more about the science with these five incredible proven ways Qigong helps strengthen your immunity.
Four Proven Ways Qigong Strengthens Immunity
#1: Qigong increases your body’s ability to adapt to pathogenic invaders
Your body’s ability to “adapt” its response to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, etc. is known as immune modulation or immunomodulation; and it is paramount to health and vitality.
A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that after a month of daily Qigong practice there was a significant increase of immune cells, specifically higher B-Cell counts (a type of white blood cell that secretes antibodies, antigens, and cytokines) compared to the control group 1.
Your body’s ability to adapt its response to invading pathogens is the bedrock of strengthening the immune system using TCM practices.
#2: Qigong is proven to have immediate immune benefits post session.
Not only has Qigong shown a positive effect after 1 month of daily practice, there is evidence demonstrating increases in both white blood cells and lymphocytes immediately after a single Qigong session 2!
So even if you can’t practice every day, your immune system will gain instantaneous benefit from just one session.
If this doesn’t scream instant gratification then I don’t what does.
#3: Qigong enhances your immune signaling mechanism
The immune signaling system of the body is critical for strong immunity.
The “signaling” referred to is the ability of immune cells to perceive and accurately respond to their environment to maintain balance.
So, not only do you want a robust immune response when a pathogen is detected, but you want a strong signaling system in place to alert your body’s defenses ASAP.
One study suggests that this response system is enhanced immediately following a Qigong practice by the increased release of growth hormone which primes the immune response 3.
#4: Qigong can prevent upper respiratory illness
In this pilot study, members of the University of Virginia Swim Team were given 3 weeks of Qigong classes. Swimmers are particulary prone to upper respiratory infections, so the goal of the study was to see if Qigong could reduce infection among participants.
The results were pretty impressive:
“Cold and flu symptoms showed a significant non-linear association with frequency of qigong practice (R(2) = 0.33, p < 0.01), with a strong, inverse relationship between practice frequency and symptom scores in swimmers who practiced Qigong at least once per week (R(2) = 0.70, p < 0.01).”
Imagine how much more beneficial Qigong could be if practiced more than once per week! Perhaps this information should make it into the pandemic news cycle.
I hope this information draws your awareness to the infinite healing power which resides within your own body.
So often, we believe to the myth that what we need to feel fulfilled, to feel safe, to feel powerful, to feel loved, to feel strong, to feel protected, etc. must be bought, or found outside ourselves.
During a vulnerable time like this COVID-19 pandemic, it seems the media, advertisers, and other entities try to drive this myth home even harder.
BUT, as you can see, when it comes to something as essential as caring for your immune health, nothing could be further from the truth.
You have what you need to heal from within. You always have, you always will.
The key lies in making time and space to cultivate and care for that healing power…and it will always serve you.
I hope this research and newfound knowledge empowers you to see passed any fear that may be standing in the way of your innate happiness and well-being.
To learn more about Qigong, check out:
- What is Qigong (plus how to get started)?
- Increase Energy, Focus, and Creativity with this Powerful Qigong Pose