Scientific research now points toward knowledge that Chinese medicine has explained for thousands of years: 80% of your immunity potential lies in your gut. Studies indicate that a balance between good and bad bacteria in the large intestine is a significant determinant of your ability to ward off colds and flu.
Chinese medicine considers the large intestine and the lungs as a single organ system, and the health of one organ has a direct impact on the functioning and effectiveness of the other. Why are the large intestine and the lungs so important to a person‘s immunity?
First, let me explain the common cold and the flu according to Chinese medical theory. While the concept of viruses and bacteria is recent in medical history, for thousands of years the Chinese observed how the incidences of colds increased during seasonal changes. They determined that the body was being invaded by external, or Wind, pathogens. How does this relate to the lungs?
The lungs are vital to the body’s ability to ward off a Wind invasion. By circulating a refined fluid (Jin Ye) in the space between the skin and the muscles, the lungs convey protection to the skin. The lungs are also in charge of opening and closing skin pores, a crucial function because the skin is the first organ Wind contacts. Sudden changes in temperature and humidity, such as the Santa Ana winds that sweep through Los Angeles in the autumn, require the lungs to work with extra zeal to protect the skin/pores and stop the entry of Wind into the body. (Wearing clothing such as a windbreaker also helps protect the skin.)
Now let’s see how the large intestine gets involved. The ancients wrote, “…when the skin is thick, the large intestine is thick…” Thickness means constipation or that the colon is backed up. The large intestine promotes healthy defenses by absorbing fluids and sending them back up to the lungs to be circulated to the skin. If the large intestine is thick, or constipated, this function is compromised and the skin becomes dry and devoid of protection. To conclude: keeping the bowels healthy and avoiding thickness makes your immune system much, much stronger.