Three Ways to Fortify Wei Qi and Immune Function This Winter

“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life” - Huangdi Neijing Suwen

One central tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine is harmonizing your health with the seasons, honoring the way our bodies change as they shift and flow through our lifetime. Just as the seasons change, so do our mental, physical, and spiritual needs throughout the year.

Winter is naturally Yin, and the cold and dark of winter urges us to slow down. We have a natural inclination to draw inward; it’s a time of introspection, rest, letting go, and conservation. This contraction helps us prepare for the burst of energy and life that will come in the spring.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that our bodies have an innate intelligence to heal and perform complex bodily functions without our conscious awareness. Working with this energy, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners can see what areas have stagnation or blockages and need to be treated by an acupuncturist using acupuncture points along the meridians of our bodies and other healing modalities.

Wei Qi (pronounced way-chee) is one subtype of Qi energy and is one of our immune system’s primary defense lines, second to the skin. Focusing on keeping this part of ourselves healthy and balanced is one of the best ways to ward off illness in the winter months.

WHAT IS WEI QI?

One central tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine is harmonizing your health with the seasons, honoring the way our bodies change as they shift and flow through our lifetime. Just as the seasons change, so do our mental, physical, and spiritual needs throughout the year.

Winter is naturally Yin, and the cold and dark of winter urges us to slow down. We have a natural inclination to draw inward; it’s a time of introspection, rest, letting go, and conservation. This contraction helps us prepare for the burst of energy and life that will come in the spring.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that our bodies have an innate intelligence to heal and perform complex bodily functions without our conscious awareness. Working with this energy, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners can see what areas have stagnation or blockages and need to be treated by an acupuncturist using acupuncture points along the meridians of our bodies and other healing modalities.

Wei Qi (pronounced way-chee) is one subtype of Qi energy and is one of our immune system’s primary defense lines, second to the skin. Focusing on keeping this part of ourselves healthy and balanced is one of the best ways to ward off illness in the winter months.

THREE WAYS TO SUPPORT WEI QI THIS WINTER

There are many ways that you can support your Wei Qi, and it doesn’t involve drastic changes or significant, effortful endeavors. Moderation and balance are the keys to maintaining Wei Qi that is neither over nor underactive. To start supporting your Wei Qi, follow these guidelines in moderation, weaving them into your everyday lifestyle. You might find that you already do some of these things, and you might find that these are new concepts to you. Whatever the case may be, start where you are and proceed gently, giving yourself the grace to be imperfect in the process.

1. FOOD

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating with the seasons is an essential pillar in maintaining overall health and preventing illness. In TCM, food is seen as medicine from how you prepare your food, what you eat, and how you eat it all impact your body.

In the winter, eating warming foods and avoiding raw and cold foods will help warm the body’s core and keep it nourished. Try to opt for room temperature or warm beverages, and use heat-based cooking methods like stewing and baking.

Try this recipe from Oh She Glows, ‘Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew,’ which has warming ingredients like sweet potato, onion, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. This is an excellent recipe to make a big batch and meal prep, freezing the leftovers into individual portions for healthy, convenient meals later on.

Some warming foods and herbs are:

  • Sweet Potato

  • Pumpkin

  • Celery

  • Carrots

  • Ginger

  • Lentils

  • Cardamom

  • Walnuts

2. EMOTIONAL REGULATION

Our emotions have a substantial impact on our physical health. The mind-body connection is at the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it is starting to become more widely accepted in Western medicine.

One of the most substantial parts of healthy Wei Qi is emotional wellness, specifically emotional processing and regulation. Emotions are energy that need to be processed in a healthy way. If we are unable to process those emotions, imbalances and blockages are created.

Some things that help to begin or strengthen emotional processing and regulation are:

  • Establishing routines – Creating a morning and evening routine will be grounding and help decrease stress.

  • Activities like meditation, quiet reflection and journaling can help process emotions. Using a free app like Insight Timer can help make meditation fun!

  • Notice what you are feeding your mind – Are you constantly watching the news, absorbing the chaos and stress being churned out, or are you relaxing reading a book or watching a lighthearted TV show? Try to limit news and social media consumption, especially during stressful times,  by setting a usage timer or checking only at specific times of the day. Stay informed but keep healthy boundaries.

3. SLEEP HYGEINE

Your routines for emotional regulation will benefit your sleep, as well.

Morning and evening routines help regulate your internal clock, signaling to your body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.

Falling asleep and waking up at the same time will help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep more soundly.

Try this bedtime routine to see what feels useful to you:

  • Unplug from technology one hour before bed⁠

  • Prepare things for the next day – clothing, food, look at the upcoming schedule, etc.

  • Personal hygiene ritual – brush your teeth, wash your face, and whatever other personal care practices you follow⁠

  • Process your thoughts – set a timer for 5-10 minutes and journal about what’s on your mind⁠

  • Practice meditation – get grounded before climbing into bed for a restful night’s sleep

TAKEAWAYS

There is no one answer or cure to health and wellness; our routines are as unique as we are, and what works well for one person might not work well for another. Try out one or more of these tips to start, and see how it feels to actively support your Wei qi, body, and immune system. As you feel ready, add in one new thing at a time. Every supportive activity counts!

If you are interested in diving deeper into how Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can support you, call Rachel at (801) 903-3905 to ask questions and set up an appointment.

Disclaimer: This guide is not a replacement for regular medical care; it is meant to support in addition to your standard wellness checkups with your doctor. If you are experiencing persistent and or life-threatening symptoms, contact your doctor right away or dial 9-1-1.

Sources:

https://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.neuropsych.12050109

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540978/

http://patriciafitzgerald.com/nourish-support-or-fortify-but-please-dont-boost-your-immune-system-classical-chinese-medicine-wisdom-for-optimal-health/

https://www.balancewithinyou.com/acupuncture-for-boosting-immunity/how-acupuncture-can-help-your-immune-system/

http://patriciafitzgerald.com/fall-health-tips-for-strength-balance-and-immunity/

https://healthwellmd.com/health-well-news/five-acupuncture-points-winter/

https://www.verywellmind.com/emotions-in-traditional-chinese-medicine-88196