Wait, Where Is My Thymus?

Think back to middle school biology. Remember learning about the anatomy of the body? The cardiovascular system? The pH of your stomach acid? The larynx versus the pharynx? It's okay, it's fuzzy for me too. Perhaps you remember learning about the thymus. That's in the brain, right? Nope. Try again. It's actually behind your sternum (breast bone). This baseball-sized gland plays a huge role in our immune system, yet nobody ever talks about it! By the time you are in your 30's, this gland is operating at full throttle, gradually declining in function as we age. By the time we are in our 70's, it has shrunken to the size of an almond! The thymus keeps our bodies strong and our immune system stronger. Use it or lose it certainly reigns true with this squishy, mysterious gland. A little at-home Chinese medicine can help! 

Both Eastern and European herbalists can tell you about a category of herbs called adaptogens that help to promote vitality and balance amongst all functional systems. They literally help you adapt to stressful stimuli. Adapotogens, such as Huang Qi (astragalus) are especially beneficial for thymus function. 

Acupressure can also be effective in tapping into the benefits of this gland (pun indented!): gently tap on the acupuncture point "CV 17", which is located on the midline of the sternum, at the level of the 4th rib (or between the two nipples, if that's easier!) Activate this point first thing in the morning, mid-day and before bed to stimulate the healing and protective properties of the thymus. Keep this little bad boy strong and you'll thank yourself later. 

Kate Kronisch, L.Ac., MSOM is a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist in Denver, CO. She specializes in the treatment of internal health concerns. Check out the FREE "Secrets of Acupressure" workshop on Sunday, Feb. 28th to learn more!

Eastern Traditions Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine 1643 Boulder Street, Suite 104. Denver, CO 80211. (720) 551-8408