Build Resilience & Boost Immunity This Winter
Practice this one-minute self-massage routine each day to help you boost your immunity and stay healthy throughout the winter this year.
I recently came across this sentence when I was leafing through some old notes from acupuncture school:
“Acupuncture builds resilience & strengthens our natural resistance to disease.”
It was underlined twice and highlighted. Although I don’t remember writing it or which of my teachers said it, the words clearly resonated with me at the time. Re-reading them now, especially during peak flu season, they still do.
It’s a simple idea and yet profound. Forget endorphins. Forget improved blood circulation. Forget placebo. This is how acupuncture works—by strengthening our natural resistance to disease.
Whether we’re talking about the flu, and hence its immunity-boosting ability, or back pain, acupuncture makes us stronger so we can naturally resist illness and pain. In the end, acupuncture works by making us better equipped to cope physically and emotionally. We sleep better, heal faster, rest more deeply when we get regular acupuncture.
Your acupuncture booster
Throughout time, acupuncture has been used to build health and resilience. The following acupoints can be used to strengthen immunity and improve your chances of avoiding the colds & flus this winter. If you’ve already suffered through the flu, these acupoints can be used to help prevent a recurrence.
We recommend you massage these 3 points daily In between your regular acupuncture treatments. You also can perform the routine on children or other loved ones who are in extra need of an immunity boost.
Kidney 27 Shufu (English translation: Shu Mansion or Storehouse)
Kidney 27 is an immune-boosting superstar, and especially helpful for people who are prone to upper respiratory flu symptoms. The traditional Chinese Kidney system is said to “grasp the Lungs,” meaning it helps distribute the air that enters the lungs throughout the rest of the body. When this interplay doesn’t happen correctly, shortness of breath and cough can occur as well as fatigue because your body is not being properly oxygenated. Kidney 27 is easily accessible, located about one inch from the midline on the lower border of the collar bone. Here’s more
Large Intestine 10 Shou San Li (English translation: Arm Three Miles)
In many styles of Japanese acupuncture, this point is a master immune point. The exact location is determined according to sensitivity in that area. The most sensitive spot is usually the most effective when pressed. With your elbow flexed, find Large Intestine 10 below the elbow crease, by rocking your finger down about two inches from the crease until you feel the sensitive spot. That’s 3-finger widths down from the elbow crease, in the depression between the muscles Learn more about Large Intestine 10 here.
Stomach 36 Zu San Li (English translation: Leg Three Miles
Stomach 36 is one of the most effective acupuncture points for strengthening the immune system and recovering from fatigue. Acupuncturists often incorporate this point into treatments because it is such an energizing point. Stomach 36 is found about a hand length below the patella of the knee, just outside the prominent tibia bone. Sometimes pressing this point, if it’s done firmly enough, will produce a strong sensation that travels down the leg. Learn more about Stomach 36 here.
How to do the routine
Here are a few quick tips on doing acupressure self-massage on these immune-boosting points:
- First, get into a comfortable position from which you can easily access all 3 points (don’t worry—not at the same time!). You can use your knuckles, fingers, pencil eraser, or a massage tool to apply pressure to the acupoints in your routine.
- Begin with Kidney 27 and work your way down the body. So, the order should be Kidney 27, Large Intestine 10, and Stomach 36.
- For Kidney 27 and Stomach 36, since you have both hands free, press the point on both sides of the body at the same time.
- For Large Intestine 10, try pressing the point on each side of the body to determine whether one side is more tender than the other. Focus your acupressure sessions on the tender side. If both are equally tender (or not at all), you can pick either side, or take turns pressing the points on both sides.
- Spend 20-30 seconds on each point. Apply firm pressure while breathing steadily into your abdomen. You’ll probably find this routine very relaxing, so feel free to repeat it. Especially this time of year, you can’t overdo it!.
- As a maintenance routine, shoot for doing the one-minute routine once in the morning and once before bed. If you start feeling fatigued, weak or like you might be coming down with something, up it to three times a day.
Wishing you a healthy winter!
Inspired by Sara Calabro; point infographics from A Manual of Acupuncture