Your immune system is your body’s final defense against disease-causing agents such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. A healthy immune system depends on holistic health – a healthy mind and body that receives adequate nutrition, regular exercise, and proper sleep. In addition to healthy routines, there are other ways we can support healthy immune function and there is increasing evidence that acupuncture can help.
You may not realize it, but immune dysfunction is implicated in a wide range of conditions from seasonal allergies to multiple sclerosis. And though we don’t always fully understand the link between immune functioning and disease, there is no question that a weakened immune system puts you at risk of a wide range of health conditions. But what weakens the immune system?
Stress is one of the main drivers of poor immune function – and stress can take many forms. Poor sleep, nutrition, and lack of exercise are all stressors on your body; but also, there are external stressors such as exposure to foreign invaders that can impact your immune function. Once the immune system is compromised, you are more likely to become infected by bacteria and viruses – you experience colds, allergies, fatigue, and respiratory illness more frequently.
Whether you are hoping to restore or maintain your immune system, there is a growing body of evidence that acupuncture can help. By regulating immune function, acupuncture can mitigate the underlying factors that lead to illness. Acupuncture may also help to promote the immune response for improved healing from infection and disease. By facilitating activation of the autonomic nervous system, acupuncture can stimulate the immune response. For example, by accessing specific acupoints, research shows that acupuncture increases interferon levels in the body. Interferon is an important protein in the immune response as it communicates the need to defend against attack.
Many proponents of acupuncture speak to its effectiveness in reducing symptoms associated with asthma, arthritis, seasonal allergies, and many other common afflictions. Moreover, as a traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been applied safely for centuries to not only boost immune response, but also to ensure ongoing immune system health.