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A Balanced Way Column; Daoist Tips for the 21st Century – Strength In The Time Of Covid

by Vicki McKenna(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 274 - November 2021



I know from personal experience, having contracted poliovirus (as a baby), the catastrophic effects a virus can have on your body and your life. The Covid 19 virus can wreak havoc for some people whilst other infected individuals have few symptoms and the reason for this, in large part, lies in the strength or weakness of the immune system. The immune system is an incredibly complex entity made up of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection and memorize invaders such as viruses in order to recognize and suppress them should they enter the body again. Immunity develops gradually from our last months inside the womb where we passively absorb maternal antibodies and then builds as children when, prone to common infections, we respond to these infections by making our own antibodies.

Interestingly research suggests that we already have strong immunity to Covid 19 as it is a Corona virus and therefore, as it belongs to that group (which includes the common cold), it seems that we already have the receptors for those particular viruses. This means we may have already produced the antibodies and T cells to react and respond to Covid 19 with perhaps no need for the experimental vaccines that have come out recently . (These vaccines have caused concern to many researchers).[1]

In a study reported in the journal Nature “researchers in Singapore identified memory T cells in patients who had recovered from SARS back in 2003. These were reactive to proteins from SARS-CoV-2, supporting the idea that T cell memory from infections with human coronaviruses may play a role in the response to an infection with the new pandemic virus.[2] An additional study recently published in Science used human blood samples from before the pandemic to locate parts of SARS-CoV-2 that stimulated existing T cells. The study found a range of memory T cells that could react to both the new virus and to the four common cold coronaviruses, again suggesting that existing T cells against common coronaviruses could play a role in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in some patients.”[2]

All in all it seems we may well be able to trust and rely on the strength of our immune systems to protect us in this current pandemic . Nevertheless as we get older the immune system becomes weaker – some research suggests this may be due to the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection. Other research suggests that bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the immune system.[3]

Whatever the reason for this weakening, as we get older we need to understand what makes us more susceptible to viruses and how to strengthen our immunity. Certainly ageing can challenge our immunity but so can a poor diet, lack of exercise, too much exercise, over indulging in alcohol and or drugs, lack of sleep, and of course stress. The lockdown has certainly proved to be a factor in weakening the fledgling immunity of children – children need to come into contact with dirt (or put more scientifically: bacteria, microorganisms, viruses in general) in order to build their immunity. Research shows that all the hygiene measures necessary in a pandemic have caused this contact to be hugely reduced resulting in babies and toddlers particularly becoming dangerously vulnerable to certain infections.[4]

(Interestingly meanwhile, there is evidence that when children are exposed to the Covid virus, they receive a smaller dose than adults, because their noses contain fewer ACE2 receptors – the receptors for the Covid 19 virus.) There also seems to be a genetic factor that gives rise to a susceptibility in some people to certain viruses and research continues into that: ”several genes related to the immune system’s response were related to the severity and susceptibility to the COVID-19. In conclusion, a correlation was found between the ACE2 levels (ACE2 acts as the receptor for the Covid virus) and the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.”[5]

So, in spite of ageing and susceptible genes how can we cultivate a stronger immune system? When we eat well, take moderate exercise, get rested, know how to handle stress and have good hygiene balanced with some exposure to “bugs”(particularly as children) we will find all these factors work together to create balance and harmony and this will strengthen our immunity as we age and in the face of any viruses in our environment. But Daoism has other very valuable tips that will increase our understanding of the immune system and enable us to work on strengthening it.

Cover Wei Chi Field River of Dreams

Wei Chi Field River of Dreams

Strengthening Immunity the Daoist Way

Daoists have known about immunity for thousands of years but called this protective shield the “Wei Chi” or “Protective Chi”. Wei Chi flows at the surface of the body in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin and is a protective sheath against pathogens and other negative influences. Wei Chi controls the opening and closing of the pores of our skin allowing sweat to cool the body when the pores are open and closing them to keep in any heat. If Wei Chi is weak, the pores are more open and our bodies are thus more open to an attack. Furthermore the skin is seen as an extension of the Lungs so if Lung function is deficient or compromised in any way, then the body is more open to external pathogens. Wei Chi comes from deep, inner Chi and goes deep during sleep to circulate in the organs of the body. Because Wei Chi withdraws inside at night it is important for good immunity to stay warm whilst asleep. Sleeping under an open window allows cold and pathogens to enter as the body is less protected at that time. Furthermore steer clear of crowded places as this is where there may be a greater load of virus circulating which theoretically can overwhelm your Wei Chi. Respect your Wei Chi – it is not invincible but it will work for you if you care for it.

Daily practice of this visualization will help to build strong protective Wei Chi.

  • Begin by focusing on your Heart and see it opening like a deep red flower from which flows Chi flows throughout your body filling it with great joy and happiness.;
  • Next imagine a yellow stream of Chi arising from the earth up through your feet to your Spleen and then filling your body. You are powerfully connected and rooted to the Earth by this stream.;
  • Now imagine Chi as a silver, white light and focus on this filling your Lungs. See every breath you take filling your lungs with this glowing white light that will protect you and strengthen you ;
  • Next imagine your Kidney area, your lower back, as a strong blue river whose flow of Chi is a power and force that will shield you from harm.;
  • Finally focus on your Liver and see the Chi there as a green force field full of strength and determination. The power of your Liver energy will cleanse your body, mind and spirit of all negativity;
  • Now see all the Five colours blending into a rainbow that extends outwards to form a beautiful, strong bubble – a protective shield encircling and filling your energy field. Affirm “The Dao and I are one --I am filled with Strength, Health and Healing. No harm can come to me. “

Along with Wei Chi, when it comes to the body’s ability to fight off disease you can enhance your Lung energy by ensuring good ventilation – take walks in the fresh air, open windows, avoid crowded buildings and practise deep, abdominal breathing as it will raise oxygen levels and can help increase Lung capacity– crucial to protect against external pathogens. Furthermore cultivate Spleen and Stomach energy. These organs transform food into the blood and energy needed to maintain your immunity. Eating raw cold foods will weaken Stomach and Spleen and thus lower resistance to disease. Instead eat hot food such as stir fries using ginger, onions and garlic to boost immunity. Avoid sugar as that too weakens the Spleen. Regular stimulation of Lung and Stomach /Spleen acupuncture points will increase and enhance Wei Chi and thus improve immunity.

To build strong immunity acupressure these 4 points daily (see pics). Press into the point firmly for 2 to 3 minutes each side.....


Stomach 36

Stomach 36

With the leg straight, place the side of your index finger at the very base of the kneecap . At the level where the edge of your little finger comes to rest, go to the outside of the ridge of the leg bone (tibia) by a finger’s width. The point is located in the shin muscle. Press around to find a sensitive area and press for 2 to 3 minutes.

spleen 3

Spleen 3

Spleen 3

On the medial (inside)aspect of the foot, in the depression posterior and inferior to the proximal joint of the big toe. Press for 2 to 3 minutes

lung 9

Lung 9

Lung 9

Hold your left hand with the palm facing you. On the thumb side of the wrist crease, find the hollow between a tendon on the thumb side, the radial artery next to it, and the bone at the base of the hand. Hold the point with gentle pressure for 2 to 3 minutes. 

lung 7

Lung 7

Lung 7

Located on the side of the radius bone, 3 finger widths up from the wrist crease in a cleft between the tendons . Hold the point with gentle pressure for 2 to 3 minutes. 

To strengthen immunity stay away from crowded places, spend time daily outdoors in Nature, avoid too much time spent around electromagnetic fields such as mobile phones and computer screens, steer clear of getting chilled – particularly at night, avoid raw cold food and sugar, hydrate by drinking enough water, practise the visualisation exercise and acupressure points described above and above all let go, keep things simple, be kind, enjoy life.




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About Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna BA Lic Ac trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then. Her book A Balanced Way Of Living; Practical and Holistic Strategies for Coping with Post Polio Syndrome is available from 


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