Katie Brindle, the founder of the renowned Hayo’u Method, based on the Chinese self care belief of yang sheng, shares how Chinese medicine can help boost our immunity to help stave off Covid-19 …
This virus is less active in places that are warm and dry. It’s more likely to spread in places that are cold and damp. Therefore, keep warm at home as much as possible and take the steps below to enhance your circulation and increase your metabolism. My suggestions are to work alongside Western advice and not instead of. I must emphasise these tips are not claiming to prevent or cure Covid-19!
Step 1 – Wrap Up
Try and keep your body temperature stable, so wrap up when you leave a warm inside environment.
Step 2 – Qigong
Qigong, as I’ve mentioned, is scientifically proven to give you energy, be deeply relaxing, lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost your immunity and relieve pain.
Qigong helps to support the immune system, with research suggesting it may improve both cell-mediated immunity and antibody response in the immune system. I offer a free daily class on Instagram, where we gather together in a virtual park (ie. our homes mostly, by an open window) and practice a really lovely 45-minute sequence that is suitable for all levels.
Focus on tapping along your inside leg. This stimulates two key organ channels when supporting the body with regards to Covid-19, the spleen and the kidney. Tap all around the knee front and back, and then also along the inner arms, which addresses the lung channel.
It’s imperative to clear any Qi stagnation and encourage circulation, not only to support your immunity, but also to minimise the risk of blood clots, as patients with Coronavirus are at a much higher risk of blood clots. Tapping, qigong and gua sha will all help with this. Spend time tapping your armpits and thymus (in between your breasts).
Step 3 – Gua Sha
Gua Sha has been used to treat a whole range of conditions from fever to chronic cough and migraines. It has been shown in studies to increase micro-circulation and clear inflammation. You can focus treatment on your inside leg (as above), as gua sha has a stronger effect than tapping. Linger around the knee area as there are specific points here that are really helpful. Tapping the “Xue Hai” on the inside of your leg, above the knee joint. This point is important in the spleen meridian. It is the acupoint which transforms blood into Qi to enhance the spleen. Tap or massage this point on each leg between 9am-11am for three minutes. I also recommend gua sha on your throat to support lymphatic drainage and keep immunity strong. Gua sha your upper back (or ask someone to do it for you). This will help build Back Yang energy.
Building Back Yang
In Chinese wisdom, Yang energy helps drive the immune system to push out a pathology. Yang is generated at the lower back and disseminated from the neck. By releasing and relaxing the neck and lower back we can support not only our immune function but also our digestion, energy levels and circulation.
The neck is a major meeting point where Qi can be transported through the body as needed. When the neck is stiff and tight there will be less Qi moving to where it is needed. You may well feel run down and stressed. Many of us suffer with tightness around the neck, and regular work in this area can help flow and movement throughout the body. As with the lower back, treating the neck won’t treat conditions but will improve the general functioning of the body, so this works as a preventative medicine.
Step 4 – Lung and Nasal Passage Support
Garlic is a popular remedy for helping to boost the immune system. It also expels coldness and relieves coughing. To help support the lungs, mash a few garlic cloves and put into a container. Inhale deeply to get the smell of garlic into your lungs and exhale. Repeat this for up to five minutes, three or so times a day. Change the mashed garlic every three days.
Nasya oil is an Ayurvedic treatment, which is highly effective in the prevention of airborne infections. You apply a drop of this specially formulated oil infused with antibacterial and antiviral herbs into each nostril and massage the outside of each nostril to spread the oil. This treatment is safe to use on adults and children alike. I also recommend burning
Eucalyptus oil in a steamer at night.
Step 5 – Nutrition
I would recommend ginger tea, warm food and warm drinks. Tea contains theanine which can provide immune support. Limit smoking, alcohol and spicy, greasy food. I’d also recommend Astragalus Root and Elderberry linctus for immune function. I have created a Ginger and Liquorice root concoction too. There is an IGTV with a recipe on my Instagram, but essentially it is a simple combination of cinnamon twigs, lemon, fresh ginger, liquorice root and tangerine peel in hot water.
Step 6 – Bathing
Bathing is a bit of an unsung hero these days. But, if you look hard enough, you can still find hydrotherapy centres, such as the Russian Banyas dotted around Europe. If you are near London I would highly recommend www.russianbanya.co.uk. Most people aren’t able to access hydrotherapy centres, particularly at the moment – but there is a lot you can do in your own bathroom. Bathing is used the world over to relieve stress, simply because hot water relaxes your muscles. Relaxed muscles send a message to the alarm centres in the brain that there’s no threat, thus immediately engaging your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
In the bath houses of China, a specific routine is followed. Twenty minutes soaking in a very hot bath, followed by a cold shower. Rapid changes in temperature strengthen the cardiovascular and immune systems. This is followed by exfoliation, focusing on the groin and armpit regions, which stimulates lymphatic drainage to excrete toxins.
Immediate immersion into a very hot bath is not advisable. Instead, get into a nice warm bath about a third full, then increase the temperature slowly as you sit. The steam works to unblock the sinuses and help you breathe more freely.
As the water temperature rises the sympathetic nerve becomes predominant, blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels all rise. Then, to correct this condition, the parasympathetic nerve becomes predominant, blood pressure decreases, heart rate goes down, and blood sugar also comes down, allowing the body to repair itself. Heat alleviates pain in the joints and muscles, helps to remove lactic acid, salt and urea from the body and facilitates the absorption of oxygen.
Traditionally, different temperatures would be employed depending on your physical health. The more extreme the temperature the more powerful the benefit. If you are in good health that’s great. If not, go instead for a gentle fluctuation – this is especially important if you have high or low blood pressure, skin issues, or are pregnant for example. If you want to wake up and invigorate then finish in cold water, whereas if you want to relax and unwind, you should finish in hot water.
No bath? Foot bathe! Yes, it’s a thing – and all you need is a washing up bowl. Chinese medicine believes that soaking the feet is an efficient manner of detoxification, as the slightly raised body temperature unblocks energy channels in the body. Simple soaking can be surprisingly effective. Six meridians (liver, gall bladder, kidney, spleen and stomach) reach the feet, each of which has more than 60 acupuncture points. The feet have points that correspond to many parts and organs of the body. Soaking in hot water activates blood and energy throughout the body. In herbal foot baths, the skin absorbs elements through the skin and these travel through energy channels to target points. Add some fresh ginger to the bowl to supercharge your foot bath.
Step 7 – Meditation
Keep stress to a minimum as stress exacerbates everything. Try and make some time for meditations, there are free “live meditations” on Instagram @hayoufit.
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