Reprint with permission from Acupressure.com
In a fast-paced world, it is easy to overwork yourself, take on too many commitments, and extend yourself to the point of exhaustion. This energy imbalance weakens the immune system. If we take care of ourselves by eating properly, getting enough rest and exercise, and practicing techniques that release tension and balance our bodies – then our resistance to illness is strong. If, on the other hand, we abuse our bodies, push ourselves too hard, eat poorly, don’t exercise, and fail to release tension, our immune system weakens, and we are more prone to illness. Acupressure and deep breathing strengthen the immune system and can help you ward off disease.
Everyday stresses accumulate inside our bodies, causing shoulder and neck tensions as well as anxieties that often make it hard to breathe. I use acupressure, deep breathing, and stretching exercises daily to counteract the common daily pressures in my life.
We can only withstand a certain amount of stress. Each person has a different threshold, and each must determine for himself or herself how much is too much. When you cultivate an inner awareness of what’s going on inside you, both emotionally and physically, you discover your optimum balance of activity and rest.
Traditional Chinese medicine discovered that excesses of particular activities weaken the immune system by overstressing certain acupressure meridian pathways. (The following potent points are described in detail later in this chapter.)
- Excess standing damages the bladder and kidney meridians, which can cause fatigue and low backaches. To restore these meridians, stimulate the Sea of Vitality points (B 23 and B 47) by rubbing your lower back for one minute. Then hold Elegant Mansion (K 27) directly below your collarbone for another minute. Finally, hold the Bigger Stream (K 3) points on the insides of your ankles for one minute as you breathe deeply.
- Excess sitting can damage the stomach and spleen meridians, which can contribute to anemia or digestive disorders. Stimulate the Three Mile Points (St 36) on the outsides of your calves to benefit these meridians.
- Excess lying down can damage the large intestine and lung meridians, which can affect both respiration and elimination. For these meridians use Joining the Valley (Hoku, LI 4) in the valley between the thumb and forefinger and Crooked Pond (LI 11) on the upper edge of your elbow crease as directed on page 120.
- Excess use of your eyes (as in close desk work) or emotional stress can damage the small intestine and heart meridians, which can create emotional imbalances. The Sea of Tranquility (CV 17) on the center of your breastbone is an excellent point for balancing these meridians.
- Excess physical exertion can damage the gallbladder and liver meridians, which can cause cramps and spasms. Use Bigger Rushing (Lv 3) on the top of your feet to benefit these meridians.
By using these acupressure points regularly, balancing your activities, and practicing deep breathing you can counteract stresses, prevent fatigue, and boost your immune system. Deep breathing exercises alone can greatly increase your energy level and boost your immune system (see page 123).
Diet also plays an important role in building resistance to illness. When we eat processed, preserved, or devitalized foods, we weaken our immune system and our resistance because these foods have been stripped of necessary nutrients and fiber. Certain foods, such as miso soup, parsley, beans, tofu, sea vegetables, fresh vegetables, and lightly toasted sesame seeds can strengthen the immune system and reinforce the body’s ability to protect itself.
Acupressure Points for Strengthening the Immune System
There is a particular acupressure point, Bearing Support (B 36), that governs resistance, especially resistance to colds and flu. It is located near the spine, off the tips of the shoulder blades. The Chinese book The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine says, wind and cold enter the pores of the skin” at this point.1 It, as well as other points in this area, helps to strengthen the immune system. Conversely, these points around the tips of the shoulder blades are the first to get blocked up just before an illness, especially a cold or flu, takes hold.
The following acupressure points are effective for dealing with a condition that may be caused by a weak immune system.
- Elegant Mansion (K 27) reinforces immune system functioning by strengthening the respiratory system.
- Steady, firm pressure on the Sea Of Vitality points (B 23 and B 47) fortifies the immune system, rejuvenates the internal organs, and relieves pain associated with lower back problems.
- The Sea of Energy (CV 6) tones the abdominal muscles and intestines, and helps fortify the immune, urinary, and reproductive systems.
- Firm pressure on the Three Mile Point (St 36) immediately boosts the immune system with renewed energy. It helps tone and strengthen the major muscle groups, providing greater endurance.
- Bigger Stream (K 3) on the inside of the ankle helps balance the kidney meridian and strengthen the immune system.
- Bigger Rushing (Lv 3) and Crooked Pond (LI 11) are important points for relieving pain and strengthening the immune system.
- The Outer Gate point (TW 5) helps to balance the immune system and strengthen the whole body.
- Hoku (LI 4) is a famous decongestant and anti-inflammatory point; it relieves arthritic pain and strengthens the immune system.
- Last, and most important of all, the Sea of Tranquility (CV 17) governs the body’s resistance to illness and decreases anxiety by regulating the thymus gland.
Each of these important points benefits the immune system by enabling the internal organs to function at optimal levels.
Potent Points for Boosting the Immune System
Elegant Mansion (K 27)
Location: In the depression directly below the protrusions of the collarbone.
Benefits: Strengthens the immune system as well as relieves chest congestion, breathing difficulties, asthma, coughing, anxiety, and depression.
Sea of Vitality (B 23 and B 47)
Caution: Do not press on disintegrating discs or fractured or broken bones. If you have a weak back, a few minutes of stationary, light touching instead of pressure can be very healing. See your doctor first if you have any questions or need medical advice.
Location: In the lower back, between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, two to four finger widths away from the spine at waist level.
Benefits: Fortifies the immune system as well as relieves lower-back aches and fatigue.
Sea of Energy (CV 6)
Location: Two finger widths below the belly button, between it and the pubic bone.
Benefits: Strengthens the condition of the immune system and the internal organs as well as relieves abdominal muscle pain, constipation, gas, and general weakness.
Three Mile Point (St 36)
Location: Four finger widths below the kneecap, one finger width to the outside of the shinbone. If you are on the correct spot, a muscle should flex as you move your foot up and down.
Benefits: Strengthens the whole body, especially the immune system; tones the muscles and aids digestion as well as relieves fatigue.
Bigger Stream (K3)
Caution: This point should not be stimulated strongly after the third month of pregnancy.
Location: Midway between the inside of the anklebone and the Achilles tendon in the back of the ankle.
Benefits: Strengthens the immune system; relieves fatigue, swollen feet, and ankle pain.
Bigger Rushing (Lv 3)
Location: On the top of the foot, in the valley between the big toe and the second toe.
Benefits: Boosts the immune system; relieves fainting, eye fatigue, headaches, and hangovers.
Crooked Pond (LI 11)
Location: On the upper edge of the elbow crease.
Benefits: Relieves immune system weaknesses, fever, constipation, and elbow pain.
Outer Gate (TW 5)
Location: Two and one-half finger widths above the center of the wrist crease on the outside of the forearm midway between the two bones (ulna and radius).
Benefits: Relieves rheumatism, tendonitis, and wrist pain, and increases resistance to colds.
Joining the Valley (LI 4)Caution: This point is forbidden for pregnant women because its stimulation can cause premature contractions in the uterus.
Location: In the webbing between the thumb and index finger at the highest spot of the muscle when the thumb and index finger are brought close together.
Benefits: Relieves arthritis, constipation, headaches, toothaches, shoulder pain, and labor pain.
Sea of Tranquility (CV 17)
Location: On the center of the breastbone three thumb widths up from the base of the bone.
Benefits: Relieves anxiety, anguish, and depression; boosts the immune system and regulates the thymus gland.
You do not have to use all of these points. 14 just one or two of them whenever you have a In hand can be effective.
Potent Point Exercises
Sit comfortably for this routine and loosen your clothing if necessary.
Firmly hold K 27: Place your middle fingers in the hollows directly below the protrusions of the collarbone just outside your upper breastbone. Breathe deeply as you hold for one minute.
Sit forward on the lip of your chair for the next exercise.
Briskly rub B 23 and B 47: Place the backs of your hands against your lower back. Rub up and down briskly for one minute, creating heat from the friction. This self-massage will stimulate both lower back points.
Sit back comfortably and continue.
Firmly press CV 6: Place your fingertips in the center of your lower abdominal area, between your belly button and pubic bone. Gradually press one to two inches deep inside the lower abdomen. Close your eyes as you breathe deeply.
Briskly rub St 36: Place your right heel on the Three Mile point (St 36) of your left leg and briskly rub it up and down on the outside of your shinbone, just below your knee. After one minute, do the same on the other side.
Rub K 3 and then Lv 3: Place your right heel between your left inner anklebone and the Achilles tendon. After rubbing K 3 for thirty seconds, place your right heel in the juncture between the bones that attach to the large and second toes to rub Lv 3 for thirty seconds. Then switch sides to stimulate these two points on your other foot for thirty seconds each.
Briskly rub LI 11: With your arms bent in front of you and your palms down, place the palm side of your right fist on top of the elbow crease of your left hand. Briskly rub over the elbow joint with your palm for thirty seconds, creating heat with the friction. Then do the same on the other arm.
Rub TW 5 and then LI 4: Make a fist with your right hand and place it on the outside of your forearm, two finger widths from your wrist crease. Briskly rub TW 5 for thirty seconds. Then place your right fist on LI 4 (webbing between the thumb and index finger of your left hand). Use your knuckles to briskly rub the Hoku point for thirty seconds. Switch arms and stimulate these two points on the other side.
Repeat steps 1 and 2: This will further boost your immune system.
Press CV 17: Keeping your palms together, place the back of your thumbs firmly against your breastbone to press CV 17, at the level of your heart. Continue to keep your eyes closed and concentrate on breathing slow, even, deep breaths into your heart to completely dispel any anxiety. Use the following exercise
A Breathing Exercise for the Immune System
Focus on breathing deeply for two more minutes. Gently control your respiratory system, making each breath grow longer and deeper than the last one. Breathe out any tensions you feel restricting your lungs from moving fully and naturally. Feel your mind clear with each breath. Notice the resistance Your mind creates: the worries and judgments it comes up against. Take several deep breaths and dissolve these barriers. Breathe deeply and gently; remember, you are breathing in life itself.
Hold the breath at the top of the exhalation for a moment, feeling its fullness. Then exhale smoothly, letting your hands drift down into your lap, and relax, feeling the vitality of the breath circulate throughout your body.
This article was kindly contributed by Dr. Michael Gach of Acupressure.com
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Resources and References:
1 Felix Mann, Treatment of Disease by Acupuncture (London: William Heinemann Medical Books, Ltd., 1976), 32, 37.