The Rat is the very first sign from the 12-animal cycle of Chinese astrology, so 2020 will be a year of new beginnings and renewal for everybody, according to the Chinese Zodiac.

The wisdom of Chinese medicine says,

You go with nature, you will thrive, you go against nature and you will suffer.

The ancient Chinese understood nature and by its extension the natural world as cyclical. They recognized that cycles are repeated in hours, days, months and years and that cyclic influences have a great deal to do with our daily health and state of being.

The rat’s innate element is water which represents the quality of fluidity within the body and within our lives. Because this is a year for strong water element energy, we must pay attention to the water element both inside the body, keeping ourselves well hydrated and taking care of our backs, bones and teeth, as well as outside the body, watching out for heavy rain and flooding and other water related incidents.

Metal is the elemental energy associated with wisdom, which, according to Chinese cosmology, is developed by going through many cycles of life and learning from each cycle. Metal element energy is used to extract this wisdom from each cycle. Metal element time is also an opportunity to let go of the past, both physical and emotional.

In the system of Chinese medicine, everything is described in terms of the movement of qi, our life force energy. The ancient Chinese recognized 12 periods of qi flow, relating to the 12 meridians of Chinese medicine. Metal element time starts at 3:00 AM. Our lungs are associated with metal, so the spotlight will be on the lungs this year.

Taking care of our lungs

We really need to take care of our lungs and upper respiratory system throughout 2020 and here’s a few ways we can do that.

  • Practice deep breathing. Concentrating on breathing exercises as well as things like yoga and chi kung will help to support the health of the lungs. If we look at the function of the lungs, we know that the lungs regulate the qi that we absorb from the natural world. So, we are breathing in air and energy and the lungs then absorb this and distribute it throughout the body. We know that the lungs control breathing and that they distribute oxygen to the blood. The lungs are also a detoxification organ, so they eliminate the stale qi from the body, and they help qi and fluids descend to the lower part of the body, including the intestines. Along with the kidneys they regulate water metabolism. The lung Meridian also rules the skin and the sweat glands, which are important detoxification organs.
  • Support your immune system. Although a specific term related to the immune system is not applied in Chinese medicine, susceptibility to colds and flus are often regarded as a deficiency of wei qi. Wei qi refers to the protective energy along the surface of the body that helps to keep out pathogenic factors.
  • Strengthen your Upright qi. If we’re really looking at what encompasses the entire working immune system in Chinese medicine, it would be what is referred to as the Zheng qi (or True qi) of the body. Zheng qi is really three types of qi: the vital qi of the lungs, the food qi of the spleen and the ancestral qi of the kidneys. Zheng qi is considered the anti-pathogenic factor within the body. Ancient Chinese medical philosophy talked about the struggle between evil qi (pathogens) and healthy zheng qi of the meridians. So, the idea is to support the zheng qi to expel the xie chi (evil qi) to keep the body healthy.

Supporting your immune system

Li Dong Yuan, a famous Chinese doctor wrote, “All diseases start with spleen and stomach deficiency.” We know that the spleen has an important role in regulating our daily energy cycle including distributing all of our nutrients throughout the body. When the qi of the spleen is strong, the body will be less susceptible to outside invaders.

The health of the immune system starts in the digestive system. We need to eat well! A clean diet and high-quality organic food are a must. Don’t eat out too much because you don’t know exactly what you’re getting in restaurants. Home cooked food is best. Whole foods are best. We’re talking about foods that come from the ground. Fish, meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. A food expert wrote: “Don’t eat anything that your grandmother would not recognize.” So lots of times we go into the health food store and there’s many different kinds of vegan foods and other foods that have been put together and packaged and they might look interesting, but if it’s something that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize, (like a power bar or a vegan Cornish hen) it means it is a highly processed food and we need to pay attention to that.

Right now, it is important to pay attention to ALL lifestyle factors. This includes controlling our intake of toxins, (smoking, drinking, and drugs), having a good source of clean water, keeping the body well hydrated and making sure that we are keeping our lung qi strong by breathing pure air and by breathing deeply.

Immune system and Energy Medicine

The immune system is particularly responsive to working with energy-based techniques, as in BodyIntuitive. For example, acupoints help to balance the immune system. Our immune system point combo includes specific points on the kidney, lung and stomach meridians that have a strong synergistic effect on the body. These points touch the three important organ systems that make up the Zheng qi, so stimulating these at least one per day is very helpful in preventing colds and flus.

The Immune System section of BodyIntuitive highlights other key treatment strategies including the anti-inflammatory reset as well as working with the balance of warriors and peacekeeper immune cells within the body. According to Chinese medicine, if the immune system is strong, then a person who is exposed to a virus may not get sick at all. If the immune system is basically strong, but still has slight vulnerability, then the person exposed to a virus may get the virus, but they will get a very mild case of the virus. So we’ve seen this described with some of the cases of the Coronavirus, with a large percentage of people experiencing symptoms which are not life threatening.

The problem occurs when the virus is not able to be expelled at the Wei level (surface level). The Wei qi, the protective qi of the body, which is directly connected to the lung system, is not strong enough to be able to push out the virus after a couple of days. It then it goes to the deeper levels and layers of the body. When the virus penetrates into these deeper levels, the balance between the warriors and peacekeepers is distorted and the warriors are sensing that the body is under attack. Too many warrior immune cells are being produced, creating a lot of inflammation within the lungs. This then causes the lungs to fill with fluid, making it harder to breathe. When the lungs aren’t working well, oxygen can’t get to the blood. The lack of oxygen is leading to more inflammation, more problems in the body. Eventually, the liver and other organs actually start failing based on this cascade of reactions.

Herbal Remedies

In addition to all of the healthy strategies we’ve already covered, there are some very good herbs and herbal protocols that also can really help to work with the immune system. We know right now that about half of the people in China who are being treated for Coronavirus are having a combination of Western medicine and Chinese medicine. Because the virus is a virus, it can’t really be treated with an antibiotic, which only addresses bacterial infections. So, the Chinese have had to get very creative about how they are approaching the treatment of Coronavirus and they are trying a lot of innovative things including STEM cell therapy, plasma therapy and Chinese herbs.

Some of these immune system herbs include what are called adaptogenic herbs, such as Schizandra drops and goji berries. Any of the mushrooms really work well with the immune system, including ganoderma and Reishi mushrooms. American ginseng, which is a broad spectrum adaptogen, is also very effective. There are also some well-known, powerhouse Chinese herbal combinations including Yin Qiao and Ganmiao Pian, which have been around for thousands of years and are extremely safe and effective.

So please keep your immune system happy over the next few months and really for the whole of this Metal Rat year, by taking good care of yourself and using BodyIntuitive and other tools that you have in order to keep healthy.