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Why do I get sick so easily?

From an acupuncture perspective, your body is made up of lots of different kinds of Qi, or energy. These different types of Qi have specific physiological functions in the body. One essential type of Qi is the Wei Qi. Roughly translated as “immunity,” the Wei Qi is your body’s natural strength and ability to fight off pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

The Wei Qi, also called “protective Qi” flows in the space between the skin and muscles, and is the first line of defense against sickness (after your skin). The Wei Qi also controls the opening and closing of the pores, so spontaneous sweating is a sign of a weakness in your protective Qi.

When the Wei Qi is not strong enough, we are not able to fight off outside pathogens, and we get sick.

A number of other energetic imbalances can weaken our Wei Qi:

  • When there is Qi Stagnation in the body from stress or mental tension, this interferes with the flow of Qi throughout the body, so the area where the Wei Qi flows is not supported properly and the Wei Qi suffers.

  • When the digestive energy is weakened through poor diet, overwork or stress, it fails to transport the nutrients from food around the body, leading to a deficiency of the Wei Qi.

  • When the lung Qi is weakened through too much talking, grief, pollution, illness or allergies, it cannot effectively turn our breath into the Qi we need to protect ourselves. The lungs are also said to control the Wei Qi, so when they are weakened, the Wei Qi automatically suffers.

  • When our jing, or essence, isn’t strong due to constitutional and genetic factors, all of our body’s systems suffer, including the Wei Qi.

So, how do you make sure your Wei Qi is healthy and strong?

  • Eat right. The food we eat is transformed into useful Qi by our digestive energy. This Qi - “Gu Qi” is further refined and part of it is turned into Wei Qi by our body’s natural resources. If you are not eating properly, your digestive energy won’t be able to pull the necessary components out of your food to make efficient and strong Wei Qi. This means it is essential to limit processed foods, eat warm and hearty meals, eat at regular times, get enough protein and to eat a balanced diet.

  • Get outside. The air we breathe is also turned into Qi within our bodies by the lung. Try to spend at least 10 minutes of every day outside, regardless of the weather. This could mean taking a walk in the sun, or standing on your porch and watching the rain.

  • Get enough sleep. Your body replenishes many deeper levels of energy during sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep and some of the more internal energies of your body are weak, the Wei Qi has to work overtime to keep you healthy – and it won’t be able to do that for long. Also, the Wei Qi actually moves internally in the body during sleep, to nourish and protect your internal organs, and not getting enough sleep will not allow it sufficient time to migrate inwards and then get back to the exterior of your body where it is needed during the day.

  • Bundle up. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, many pathogens enter the body through the back of the neck during cold weather. So help out your Wei Qi and don’t leave your neck exposed to cold or wind – wear scarves or jackets with collars to keep that area protected.

  • Get acupuncture! There are specific points on the body that nourish the Wei Qi to help prevent sickness. Acupuncture can also strengthen your other energy systems if they are not supporting the Wei Qi sufficiently.

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