The COVID‐19 pandemic has greatly changed our lives; we built new routines for precaution, the ways we work, travel, communicate and shop are more or less different than before. In a time when we need to keep ourselves as healthy as we can, has your body prepared for the everlasting fierce fighting?
Infection of COVID-19 is a battle between the virus and the immune system, and the battle field is in cells. In one side, the viruses enter the cells, hijacks the cells to produce thousands of new viral particles, which then infect other healthy cells and cause damages. In the other side, the immune system becomes alerted, that sends immune cells ingesting and destroying the infected cells, producing antibodies to block the viruses from infecting cells or tag for destruction, and even producing chemicals to poison the infected cells. The outcome of this battle depends on the forces between the two; the stronger the immune defense, the more chance to overcome the infection, meaning the actions of virus multiplication and spread arrested.
Immunity to COVID-19 is caused by a “team effort” of different immune components, such as lymphocytes, antibodies, macrophages, NK cells, interferons and complements. In the intricate interplay, each of the components is not independent, but interacts closely to create specific defense mechanism against the COVID-19 virus. Vaccination can help the body to built a workable anti-COVID-19 mechanism, which will train a group of soldiers in advance and produce specific antibodies for the virus. Even though you get a positive result for COVID-19 antibody test, there is not enough evidence to say you are fully protected, that can skip the social distancing and other hygiene practices. Because it is hard to know how well your immune components work together when encounter the virus again, whether the infected cells can be detected in time, ingested and destroyed effectively, and then arrested the viral multiplication and spread in the body. Just like flu or common cold cases, the immune responses to virus may vary from person to person, and even time from time. An optimal functioning of the whole immune system is very important.
The holistic approach of Chinese Medicine is beneficial to enhance the immune functions as a whole !
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), physicians understand immunity from a holistic view; the body is an organic whole, every body part has its own particular role in protecting the body against pathogens. They combine to build up a defensive and surveillance system, known as the healthy qi (zheng qi). In other words, TCM considers immunity, the body’s defense, self-regulating and repair abilities, as a flow of qi (energy) inside the body, and is closely associated with the activities of the organs. A key for well-being is to integrate all the immune components and keep them in balance and coordinate, neither underactive nor overactive. Physicians often use qi tonics for this purpose, that selects herbs for promoting qi production and enhancing proper organ functioning. There are many types of qi tonics, including medicinal mushrooms or fungi that are traditionally highly rated for this purpose. Certain mushrooms such as Corioulus versicolor (yun zhi) in particular have been found to contain compounds with powerful immune modulation effects. Their protein-bound polysaccharides have positive activities on immune cell response, as well as metabolism and hormonal balance.
Anyway, preservation of healthy qi and ensuring its free flow are the ultimate goals for good health in Chinese Medicine. Medicinal mushrooms are supreme supplement choice, especially for those with a weak immune function.
Immune studies for some Chinese herbs
Corioulus versicolor (yun zhi)
A study about immunomodulatory properties by its active ingredients polysaccharopeptide (PSP), the result showed that PSP has stimulatory effects on many immune cells, enhancing their proliferation and cytokine release.
A study about the effects on immune system, and the result showed ginseng functions well as an immunologic adjuvant; it can enhance immunity when combined with vaccine.
A study about immune response and pathogenesis to influenza on mice, and the result showed the herb can decrease inflammatory cytokines in lungs while enhance systemic T cell-medicated function.
Pollen of wolfberry
A study about immune response and gut microbiota composition in immune- suppressed mice, and the result showed the polysaccharides of wolfberry pollen promote the immune function and regulate the diversity and composition of gut microbiota, can be serve as an effective immunomodulator.
A study about immunomodulatory effects of mycelium extract, and the result showed the extract is safe and effective for enhancing cell-medicated immunity in healthy adults.
A study about the use in influence infection, and the result showed that the herb interacts directly with different types of influenza viruses, by preventing the adsorption of viruses on host cells.