Hats, coats, scarfs, winter boots, warming drinks and food are playing a big role in our lives at the moment in our efforts to keep warm. Winter is now in full swing and the older we get, the more our bodies remind us of this. Some of us fall ill more often, while others tend to be bothered by more often by aches and pains than usual.
Chinese Medicine takes cold very seriously. Even before the year 220, the famous medical physician Zhang Zhongjing wrote a whole book on «Cold Damage» and the disorders it caused. Chinese elders know too well, the perils that cold can cause and continuously warn youngsters to look after themselves well by putting on more clothes, keeping their feet and lower backs warm and even scolding them for drinking cold drinks or eating too much icecream or yoghurt.
Exposure to external cold can damage our yang qi (energy circulating on the exterior of the body). The yang qi on the exterior can be compared to our immune system which protects us against external threats. If the immune system is weakened, we become more susceptible to colds and flus. Conversely, some people who already have weaker yang qi, are more prone to cold entering and blocking the meridians, resulting in painful muscles and joints (Cold Bi). This kind of pain is very intense, and gets worse when exposed to cold and recedes when heat is applied to the painful area. The area may also feel contracted and tense. Typical ailments of this kind include muscle pain, arthritis of the small and bigger joints, as well as back pain.
Apart from attacking us externally, cold can also injure us internally (injure the interior yang qi). The yang qi in the interior can be compared to our metabolism which requires heat to carry out all the organ functions. This kind of cold is usually introduced into our bodies through ingesting cold foods and drinks or through being subjected to long periods of stress or illness. If the yang qi in the interior is dampened, various symptoms are possible, such as hypo-activity, feeling cold, fatigue, lethargy, depression, frequent and copious urination, digestive difficulties or diarrhea, edema and even infertility.
Over centuries, Chinese physicians have studied and treated cold disorders successfully. Usually a combination of methods are used including dietary recommendations, herbal therapy, acupuncture, Tuina massage, guasha, cupping and heat therapy. Heat therapy being the most relevant application in the practice. An important heating method is that of Moxibustion (Moxa). Moxibustion is the process of burning dried Mugwort leaves, to warm acupuncture points. The deep warming effect is due to the direct heat and the essential oils of the Moxa.
If you have cold related symptoms, we recommend that you come by for a consultation with a TCM specialist in your area.