There are lots of things we can incorporate into our daily life to keep ourselves healthy and strengthen our immune system. As discussed in the previous post, its not so much our exposure to germs but the strength of our resistance (our immune system, or "Wei Qi") that determines whether we get sick or not, especially when we are talking about infectious illness. So I'd like to introduce you to a simple technique that you can start doing today to boost your Wei Qi and help detoxify your body - dry skin brushing.
Skin brushing is an ancient practice that has been practiced in many cultures over thousands of years. The Japanese use loofah sponges, the Cherokee Native American Indians used dried corn cobs, and the ancient Greeks used specialised spoons. No matter what you use, if you brush your skin daily, it can support the blood and lymph circulation, boost the immune system, and open up the movement of Qi along the acupuncture meridians, as well as offering more cosmetic benefits such as improving body tone, enhancing skin beauty and breaking down cellulite.
It is so simple to do - all you need is a long handled natural brush and a few minutes before your shower. I've described a basic protocol below, but as long as you brush in the direction of your heart, you can't go wrong. Its helpful to visualise your body being cleansed and purified; your lymphatic system being activated; and Qi moving powerfully throughout your whole body as you do this.
Skin brushing routine
1. Start at the feet. Brush the soles and top of the foot using a long handled brush, then make long, sweeping strokes up the legs, covering the whole surface area of your skin. Spend a little more time on the tops of the thighs and the buttocks.
2. Put one arm up in the air, allowing gravity to help move the lymph to the armpit, and sweep the arm with gentle strokes towards the armpit.
3. When brushing the lower abdomen, follow the pathway of the large intestine: brush upwards along the right hand side, just on the inside of the hip bone, and across the upper belly beneath the ribs and down the left hand side, then gently across the pelvic area to complete the circle. Repeat.
4. When working near the breast area, brush over the top of the breast, always aiming for the armpit - and remember, be gentle over sensitive areas.
5. If your flexibility allows, brush up the back, from the buttocks up to the armpits.
You should be feeling nicely invigorated after this short routine, and if you alternate between hot and cold temperatures in your shower afterwards you will feel even more alive! This will further stimulate blood circulation and invigorate the skin.
Just a few minutes each day can cleanse and tone your body and give your immunity an extra boost. Enjoy.
For more information on dry skin brushing, see Jennifer Harper's book "Nine ways to body Wisdom" (2000).
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Acupuncture and Immunity
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