How to Boost Your Immune System After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine
Published | 7 min read
Boosting the immune system after the COVID-19 vaccine is an important way to recover and continue your health and wellness regime.
One of the hottest topics of the past two years has been ‘how to boost the immune system.’ Your immune system works on its own to ward off infections and diseases. You can help this process by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, not smoking, getting enough sleep, and not drinking are some things you can do to naturally boost your immune system.
In our modern times, this also includes making sure that you have the most up-to-date vaccines to fight infection such as the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 vaccines are our best defense against potential infection. They can enable a broad immune response that offers protection from more severe disease and hospitalization due to the infection.
Similarly, using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, a positive flow of qi — energy that sustains all life forms, both internally in the body and externally in a person’s environment — is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system after getting a vaccine. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of how to boost your immune system after getting your shot.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a powerful part of the body that protects you from “invaders.” Invaders are germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi, or toxins. The immune system is composed of the innate immune system and adaptive immune system. The innate is the body’s rapid response system; whereas the adaptive produces antibodies to immediately protect your body from invaders. They function and operate together to keep you healthy.
COVID-19 Vaccine on the Immune System
In the case of COVID-19, the virus contains ribonucleic acid (RNA), along with spike proteins that latch on some human cells. This then replicates, which infects even more cells and spreads to the lungs.
Many people wonder how the COVID-19 vaccines work. According to the CDC, it is a safe and effective vaccine that helps you to build protection (your immunity) against the virus. This typically happens after two weeks. In the U.S, there are three vaccine types available whose does are specific to the age of the person. This includes an adult dose for ages 18 and up and a child dose for ages 12 and up. However, younger children (age 5-11) receive a small dosage at this point.
How to Boost Immune System Naturally in 5 Ways
After your vaccination, your body may experience some symptoms of fatigue, fever, or joint pain. This differs from person to person but is generally temporary and shouldn’t be of concern. They are signs that your body is building immunity against the virus and will go away in a few days. After your first and/or second dosage, it is important to take care of your body and continue to boost the immune system naturally.
1. Get plenty of rest
Rest is essential for the body. From our brain to our heart to our immune system, sleep is essential for every part of the body. After the COVID-19 vaccine, you might feel tired or fatigued whereas rest is going to be one of the best things you can do to feel like yourself again.
TCM believes that sleep is necessary for restoring energy levels and maintaining qi harmony internally. For this reason, practitioners recommend working and sleeping according to your meridian clock.
For example, adjusting your lifestyle so that you sleep at 11 PM and wake up at 5 AM can promote the normal functioning of the immune system. Additionally, consuming a herbal soup with ingredients such as lotus seeds (lian zi) and poria (fu ling) can also promote restful sleep by inducing a calming effect on the mind. This should be boiled for 1.5 for optimal benefits.
To help with restlessness, take a natural supplement, avoid screens in the evening, and wind down with a soothing bath.
2. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
Studies have found that consuming vitamin C contributes to supporting both the innate and adaptive immune systems, which can strengthen the immune system and kill viruses. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include broccoli, kiwi, kale, yellow peppers, and citrus fruits.
Additionally, probiotics and prebiotics can protect the body against gastrointestinal pathogens, thus improving the immune system. Yogurt, meanwhile, is an abundant source of probiotics. It can effectively prevent people with weak immune systems — children and the elderly — from catching a cold. Though, sugar-free yogurt is recommended for preventing excessive intake of sugar.
Studies have shown that vitamin D could help severe COVID-19 cases by reducing inflammation in the lungs; however, this is not an over-the-counter option. Additionally, vitamin A is beneficial in maintaining the linings of the mouth and respiratory tract, as well as boosting immunity. Carrots, pumpkins, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are healthy sources of vitamin A. Likewise, you can consume Manuka honey, which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The honey helps maintain your body’s first line of defense against infections by moisturizing the lining of the oral cavity.
Additionally, foods like ginger, garlic, onions, and scallions contain sulfur compounds that promote immunity. Add 2-3 heads of garlic or half an onion to your meals. This can rid the body of bacteria and prevent infections. You can also consume herbal supplements or foods containing Cordyceps or cracked spores of Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum). They can help strengthen the bronchus, lungs, and immune system even further.
3. Enjoy movement and physical activity
After you’ve recovered from the vaccine symptoms, enjoy regular exercise to continue to improve your immunity against potential infections. Activities like swimming, biking, brisk walking, dancing, or running can help move fluids through the lymphatic vessels and lymphoid organs.
Exercise is also crucial for promoting a smooth flow of blood and qi throughout the body. Tai Chi, an ancient form of exercise inspired by martial arts, is believed to help generate and replenish qi in the body.
You should be taking steps to de-stress every day, and after you receive the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. Acupuncture, for example, is a traditional remedy that uses needles to stimulate the release of endorphins and encourage better qi flow in the body. Consequently, the activation of both processes can help to improve your mood whilst increasing energy levels and providing pain relief.
Consume herbal soup or tea containing lotus seeds, rosebuds, or dried lily bulbs which have a calming effect on the body. Taking a daily supplement containing spores extracted from lingzhi mushrooms can help regulate your immune system and replenish blood and qi in your body.
5. Nourish your qi
TCM believes that when your qi is balanced, your body will have a natural resistance against diseases and be able to heal. Thus, it’s essential to remove any excess and replenish any deficiency to maintain a balance of qi, yin, and yang.
Besides a healthy diet and rest, there are different ways to nourish and regulate your qi. Take care of your mental health and ease anxiety through an abdominal breathing exercise. With this practice, you take a deep breath through your nose, then expand your belly as the breath enters your stomach. Finally, exhale through your mouth. You can do this practice every day, or whenever you feel stressed or anxious.
Additionally, you can add various herbs to your diet, including American ginseng, astragalus root (Huang Qi), and codonopsis root (Dangshen). Consuming Chinese yam is also a good way to restore your qi. thanks to its concentration of antioxidants.
The COVID-19 vaccine can help the immune system fight against the virus and its variants. After the vaccine, practice immune-boosting strategies as well as precautionary measures. This includes social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing a protective mask.
This is an adaptation of an article, “5 Ways to Power Up Your Immune System”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
- Harvard Health. 2021. How to boost your immune system. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- World Health Organization. 2021. Advice for the public: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- John Hopkins Medicine. 2021. The Immune System. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- CDC. 2021. Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- CDC. 2021. Different COVID-19 Vaccines. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- Pub Med. 2021. Vitamin C and Immune Function. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- Science Direct. 2021. Immune boosting functional foods and their mechanisms: A critical evaluation of probiotics and prebiotics. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- Medical News Today. 2021. Study shows how vitamin D could halt lung inflammation in COVID-19. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2013. The Benefits of Slumber. [Accessed on December 9, 2021]