This month we’re going to talk about auto-immune and endocrine disorders. But first we should talk about these two systems; the immune system and the endocrine system. They are both crucial to maintaining a healthy body.

You can think of your immune system as the Defense & Repair Department of your body. It consists of different types of cells, structures, and materials, each of which serves a specific purpose in protecting and defending you from “all enemies, foreign and domestic”.  Your very life depends on its coordinated strategies to fend off attacks from outside forces as well as to detect and repair internal imbalances. It’s so powerful that it can do great harm when it becomes unbalanced.

The endocrine system consists of specific glands which produce and secrete hormones for balanced functioning of the body and mind. Hormones regulate various human functions, including metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sleep, and mood.

In Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), the Kidney, Liver and Spleen systems are responsible for immunity. For example, the Kidney system rules the bones; white blood cells begin their lives in the marrow of the bones. They are programmed to know “friend from foe” in the Spleen.  Immunoglobulins are produced in the Liver from nutrients digested by the Spleen /Stomach system. This is all a well-coordinated strategy to protect you.

The endocrine system is also under the control of the Kidney system, but uses nutrients digested by the Spleen /Stomach system to build its hormones which you need for digestion, heating & cooling, metabolism, sleep, moods, sexuality & reproduction, to name just a few.

Greatest enemies of both the immune and endocrine systems include:

  • Improper diet (high sugar, processed, empty calorie foods, low in fruits & veggies, etc.)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Stress

All of these contribute to the development of inflammation; what CCM refers to as HEAT. Heat acts on the body just as it does in nature. Most of all, it burns everything in its path, just like a forest fire. Your immune energy is consumed, like a teakettle boiled dry, leaving you feeling vulnerable and unprotected. Frequently the response of a weakened and confused immune system is to turn on itself, attacking your own tissues.

The good news is that you have the power to control this with a few simple upgrades:

  • Fix your diet. Drop the empty sugary calories and eat real food, mostly veggies. Try for some ideas.
  • Get up and move. Breathe. Stretch. Repeat.
  • Smile (even if you don’t feel like it). Do something nice for someone else. Get outside in nature.