Building Immunity as the Seasons Change

A moxa pole (shaped like a cigar) is gently warming the lower leg of a patient near an aqua handled acupuncture needle inserted into the point Zu San Li, or Stomach 36, there is a gentle golden light and the smoke from the moxa is slowly rising

Building Immunity as the Seasons Change

A look at acupuncture, moxa, and Chinese herbal medicine for the prevention of seasonal illness.

As the summer season winds down, the leaves start to change, and the nights become cool and crisp our immune system can become vulnerable.  Do you frequently get a cold as the season's change? Do you have an aversion to wind in the autumn? Chinese herbal medicine is traditionally used to bolster the immune support during seasonal changes, and especially in the fall.  Acupuncture can be useful to bolster our Qi, build our immune system, and help us stay healthy.  If you tend to get sick in the bitter cold of winter, now is a great time to start bolstering your entire system, and building immunity.

Acupuncture is a great immune system builder.  There are many points on the channels that can be used to boost Qi, build the Wei Qi (our defensive Qi, which relates to our immune system), and help the body to expel pathogens.  The most common and powerful point to use for immunity is located on the Foot Yangming, or Stomach Channel, and is Zusanli,  or Stomach 36.  This point is located on the lower leg, below the knee, just lateral to the crest of the tibia.  Zusanli is used to build Qi and blood, which stimulates and boosts the immune system, stimulates white blood cells, and promotes general longevity.  The ancients said that burning moxa (Artemesia vulgaris) on Zusanli every day would cause one to live over 100 years (see photo above).

The traditional formula Yu Ping Feng San, or Jade Windscreen Powder, is used to bolster immunity and prevent illness during the seasonal changes of autumn.  The ingredients are Huang Qi (Astragalus), Bai Zhu (Atractylodis), and Fang Feng (Saposhnikoviae).  Together these three ingredients tonify Qi, strengthen the immune system, and protect the body from invasion by pathogens.  This formula is indicated for those who have an aversion to drafts or wind, recurrent colds, shiny, pale complexion, and spontaneous sweating.  Jade Windscreen Powder can be thought of as a literal "windscreen" protecting the body from invasion when there is an underlying deficiency.  In contemporary practice this formula can be used long term, for one month or more, in those susceptible to colds to prevent frequent illnesses; and can be used to treat recurrent upper respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis, and bronchial asthma.

Acupuncture, moxa, and Chinese herbal medicine can be effectively combined to boost immunity, prevent colds and flus, and create more health and healing in the body, mind, and spirit.  Traditionally the Chinese people understand the importance of self-care including exercise, eating healthy, acupuncture, and herbal medicine.  If you are curious about how acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine can help you boost your immunity for the fall and winter, please don't hesitate to contact me at

And please be aware that there are many different Chinese herbal formulas that can be used to boost the immune system, and with the correct modifications they can be specifically designed to suit each individual’s needs.  To ensure you’re getting the best formula for your health please consult a licensed Chinese herbalist before taking this or any other herbal medicine.  Although generally considered safe if administered correctly, improper use of herbal medicine may have serious or unwanted side effects.
Thanks, and have a healthy autumn!
~Christina Ducharme, L.Ac.

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