There are many factors that help a person have a strong immune system so they can be resilient against colds, flus, pathogens, allergens and environmental factors.

Physiologically, the immune system is affected by cellular components, the skin barrier, hormones, gastrointestinal flora and many other factors – but what exactly alters the immune system is not always clear.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Immune System

Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) studied the immune system quite closely, as many people would die from ‘the cold’ thousands of years ago.

TCM did not have the modern day tools such as blood tests or microscopes to be able to understand bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, but what they did have was a wholistic approach to viewing a person, their environment, and the factors that affect them.

This wholistic approach is fundamentally different to modern science. While science seeks to “look closer” in more detail at a problem, a wholistic approach seeks to “look more broadly” to the “bigger picture.”

A wholistic approach will recognize factors such as:

  • diet
  • exercise
  • sleep
  • stress
  • lifestyle
  • relationships
  • connection to ‘Self’
  • emotional states, and so on.

When we look at any problem wholistically we can determine the most effective therapy to help an individual. For example, one person may have a weak immune system because they only sleep 4 hours a night. Another person may be getting sick all the time because they have a low nutrient diet.

These two people have weak immune systems, but need different ‘therapies.’ One needs to sleep more, and the other needs to eat their veggies!

Wei Qi

Another factor to look at is the qi or energy circulation. We have qi that circulates within the body, and qi that circulates around the body.

Unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong is the concept of “wei qi” pronounced ‘way chi.’ The wei qi is an invisible field of qi that surrounds the body, protecting it from the environment.

This is more of a TCM concept, rather than a physical measurable ‘thing.’

When there is strong wei qi, we can have a strong immune system, and be resilient to pathogens and external factors. When the wei qi is weak, we are prone to illness, colds, the flu, weather, and changes in the environment.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, to have a strong immune system, one should improve the wei qi by strengthening the function of the lung and kidney systems.

The lung ‘system’ is responsible for the breath, health of the skin, and the control of wei qi. The kidneys are viewed as the root energy of the body. If we have strong kidneys, the body can fully perform all of its functions and a person will feel robust and strong.

Qigong for Immunity and Wei Qi

While there are herbs, massage, acupressure, and acupuncture that help the wei qi, Qigong is another way to strengthen the immune system.

The gentle movements, deep breathing, and positive mental focus benefit all aspects of health including the kidney and lung energy. It is also helpful for reducing a factor that dramatically affects immunity – stress.

High stress, anxiety, worry, frustration, or a feeling of uneasiness triggers our body to be in a ‘flight, fight, or freeze’ mode. When we are in that state, our immune system and wei qi is not very strong. So if we can manage our emotional states, we can strengthen the immune system.

Qigong Practices for Immune System

If you want to strengthen your immune system and wei qi with Qigong practice, here are a few suggestions:

Along with using Qigong to boost your immune system, have an honest look at other wholistic factors in your life (diet, exercise, stress, sleep, lifestyle) and look for any obvious changes that need to happen.

If you combine sensible changes with Qigong practice, I am sure you will feel strong, resilient, and robust!