In Chinese medicine, we say there are 6 pathogenic factors, or “evil qi.” Wind, cold, heat, fire toxin, dryness, or dampness can “invade your body” and cause problems. So 3,000 years ago there were no microscopes, but just knowledge that exposure to certain elements produced certain types of illnesses.
So, in central Texas, you wouldn’t think we would have much of a problem with cold, right? Wrong. Iced drinks (iced water or tea, margaritas, smoothies), air conditioning (which I find the AC in Texas is much more frigid than in the northern states), and ice packs for injuries are not your friends.
I understand that you want to cool off or reduce inflammation, but too much (or for those of you with “cold damage” already, ANY) ice in your drinks or on your body is causing problems.
Why? Ice causes contraction. Contraction causes pain. Contraction reduces blood circulation which slows the healing process. Especially after giving birth or after a traumatic injury, your body is literally open and vulnerable to cold damage. In Chinese medicine, we recommend a woman who just gave birth stay at home for one whole month before going out so that she does not succumb to cold or wind damage.
What are the signs of cold damage?
- Pain. Especially arthritic pain; pain that moves around; pain that feels cool to the touch or that gets worse in cold or damp weather.
- Hormone imbalance. A history of infertility (male or female); hypothyroid; frequent miscarriage
- Allergies, cough, or illness, especially if you feel chills or if the nape of your neck is cool to the touch.
- Cardiac irregularities (not the only cause of cardiac problems, but a major one that shouldn’t be ignored)
- Metabolic weakness: fluid retention, weight gain
- Digestive problems: abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation
How does the cold cause these problems? Your Yang qi is your body’s heat and energy. If it’s too busy warming you up from the ice and wind, it’s not able to fully do its other functions which are supplying hormones and circulating blood.
You can tell if you have this problem if you touch your belly and it feels cool to the touch (for some people it may be ice cold!).
Then, here are some things we can do:
- Avoid iced drinks
- Limit the amount of raw food you consume (eat more soup than salad, for example)
- Sip warm herbal tea (ginger or cinnamon are good) through the day or with meals
- For pain areas: use warm packs or a hot water bottle, NOT ICE
- Have your acupuncturist check you and do cupping or moxa (or even better, both) on your abdomen
But remember if we treat you for “cold evil,” do yourself a favor and don’t put it back into your body with ice! Thank you.