Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has gained popularity amidst the pandemic. TCM is well-known for its preventive approach to healthcare; and with more people seeking to stay healthy and build up their immune system against Covid-19, more people are seeing a TCM physician or using TCM strategies to stay healthy. From a TCM perspective, the pathogenesis of Covid-19 includes dampness, yang heat and stagnation. There are several applicable TCM ancient texts such as Treatise on Febrile Diseases, 伤寒论 , that describes the TCM approach and treatment methods for severe flu-like diseases like Covid-19.
As Singapore moves towards treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease, people are encouraged to get vaccinated before restrictions can be eased.
As of to date, up to 85% of the population have already received at least 1 dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Regardless of what brand of vaccine you end up taking, they all tend to have some common mild side effects after the jab ,especially after the second dose.
In this article, we will be sharing some post-vaccination care to better manage these common symptoms that you might experience after getting the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as tips to boost your immunity after the vaccine.
Post vaccination care
In TCM, a vaccination process is perceived as an external pathogenic heat attacking the body at its first line of defence, which is known as the Tai Yang Meridian. When the body’s healthy qi (immune system) engages with the pathogen vigorously at the Tai Yang Meridian, symptoms such as headache, heatiness and fatigue will arise.
Headache and Fever
Headaches and fever are one of the commonly-seen side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine and they usually last a few hours to a couple of days. While usually short-lived, it can make getting through the day difficult and uncomfortable. If you aren’t in favour of popping pills, here are some acupressure points and teas that can help relieve your headache or fever.
Locate and apply gentle pressure to these points. Massage the points in a circular motion for 3-5 minutes or until you feel better.
Easy-to-brew tea to relieve your symptoms for headaches and heatiness.
- Honeysuckle 金银花6g
- Wild Chrysanthemum Flower 野菊花 6g
- White Peony Root 白芍 6g
- Liquorice 甘草 6g
- Add all of the ingredients into a cup and pour boiling water over it.
- Let it steep for 5 minutes before consuming.
Contraindication: People with G6PD deficiency should avoid consuming this tea.
Besides having headaches or fever, some might also experience a sore arm that lasts 3-5days around the injection site that can extend to the neck and upper back area. If the soreness persists and drags on for weeks, it might result in a secondary headache due to the tightness around the neck/ upper back area, or even cause tingling sensations that rundown to the fingertips.
This can be explained using the TCM theory of “不通则通”, which means that when there is an obstruction in qi and blood, there will be pain. Hence, by removing the stagnation, TCM can help to relieve pain and soreness.
Locate and apply gentle pressure to these points. Massage the points in a circular motion for 3-5 minutes.
These two pairs of He Gu and Tai Chong, on both sides of the body, are known as the “four gates”. Targeting these four points helps to open the “four gates” to promote a better flow of qi and blood circulation around the whole body.
Acupuncture and Cupping
Besides acupressure, acupuncture and cupping are useful TCM treatment methods to unblock the stagnation as well as to promote the qi and blood circulation.
- Achieves chemical-free rapid pain relief by triggering our nerve cells’ anti-inflammatory and anti-pain receptors.
- Releases the body’s natural pain-killer biochemicals – Endorphins and Adenosines.
- Improves circulation to flush away accumulated pain-causing biochemicals.
- Stimulate our body’s innate defense mechanisms to concentrate and repair affected areas.
It is normal to feel tired a day or two after the vaccine as healthy qi is used to defend against the pathogenic attack. This will then result in qi deficiency in the body that will display symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty waking up in the morning. However, being fatigued for more than three days or even up to a week, might disturb your productivity and cause procrastination and sluggishness.
These are some TCM methods that you can adopt to raise your energy levels and combat fatigue.
Here are 3 acupoints that you can simulate for an energy boost. Locate and apply gentle pressure to these points. Massage the points in a circular motion for 3-5 minutes on each side. For the Feng chi acupoint, flick the acupoint 20 times each time when you need an energy boost.
To help combat fatigue.
- 西洋参 American Ginseng 10g
- 藿香 Herba Agastachi 3g
- 陈皮 Dried Mandarin Peel 3g
- Add all of the ingredients into a cup and pour boiling water over it
- Let it steep for 5 minutes before consuming.
Note: We recommend consuming this tea during the day to avoid disrupting your rest.
Sleep and the immune system
Your Elders or TCM physicians always emphasise the importance of sleeping before 11pm- and for good reason. According to the Chinese meridian clock, the optimal sleep time should be from 11pm to 7am. This time period is when the body repairs and rejuvenates itself most effectively.
Sleeping well helps to provide crucial support to the immune system. Being asleep by 11pm and sleeping till 7am enables an effective immune defence that features robust innate and adaptive immunity that will then produce an efficient response to vaccines.
The Chinese meridian clock originated from the ancient Chinese whereby one day is divided into 12 time intervals, 2 hours each. During these 24 hours, qi is constantly moving throughout each organ system to boost respective organ functions. Thus, it is believed that you can make the most of your body and harness your qi by using specific organs at certain times of the day.
子时 Zi Shi (11pm-1am) : Time to sleep
Organ in charge: Gallbladder
This time interval from 11pm to 1am marks the start of a brand new day. 11pm to 12am has the most Yin energy and 12am to 1am has rising Yang energy. It is thus essential to allow our body to be fully rested during this period so as to ensure the smooth transformation of the body’s yin energy to yang energy which is our fuel for the next day.
Poor function increases the chances of: Gallbladder stones, Cholecystitis
丑时 Chou Shi (1am – 3am) – Avoid staying up late
Organ in charge: Liver
In TCM, the liver stores and produces blood. This means that staying up late can hinder the production of blood, resulting in blood deficiency symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, late period etc.
寅时 Yin Shi (3am-5am) – Deep sleep
Organ in charge: Lung
Your body should be in deep sleep between 3am to 5am. Waking up naturally during this period might suggest qi and blood deficiency or a weakened lung function.
卯时 Mao Shi (5am-7am) – Wake up, release bowel
Organ in charge: Large intestine
The large intestine is in charge of this period of the day. Hence, it is recommended for people who have constipation to wake up and drink a cup of warm water during this period of time, to promote bowel movement. This is also the most ideal timing to cultivate a healthy bowel habit.
It is important to have a regular bowel movement as it helps your body to detox from the previous day.
Tips to improve your sleep:
- Avoid using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before sleeping
- Drink a warm cup of milk
- Listen to some relaxing music
- Pamper yourself with a foot soak
- Invest in a good pillow and bed
- Set a good sleeping environment by turning off the lights and ensure that the temperature of the bedroom is comfortable.
Apart from these tips, acupuncture can also help to improve one’s sleep quality, increase your overall well being, and boost our defence system- especially crucial now that we are in the midst of a pandemic.
To those night owls out there, it is time to change your habits and turn into bed at 11pm so as to keep your immune system running at its full capacity.
Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Always seek immediate medical help if you experience serious side effects or symptoms.