I Went On Vacation, and brought home…a Cold?

Why Do We Catch Colds in Summer? Unveiling the Mystery with Chinese Medicine

I just returned from an amazing trip with my family in the Canadian Rockies.  We brought home memories of hikes, pictures of stunning views and amazing wildlife, and also, a summer cold.

Summer’s here: sunshine, vacations, and… sniffles? It might seem counterintuitive, but catching a cold during the hottest months isn’t uncommon. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sheds light on this surprising phenomenon and offers natural solutions to keep you feeling cool and healthy all season long.

Summer Heat vs. Internal Balance

Chinese medicine views summer as the season of “Fire.” Our body’s energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), resonates with the fiery heat outside. This can be beneficial for those who tend to run cold, but for many, it can lead to an internal imbalance manifesting as:

  • Excessive sweating: Your body’s attempt to cool down can leave you feeling drained.
  • Fatigue and lethargy: The heat zaps your energy reserves.
  • Irritability and restlessness: The summer heat can easily frazzle your nervous system.
  • Digestive issues: Think heartburn, bloating, and sluggish digestion.


The Culprit: Disrupted Qi and External Factors

So, why do we still get colds in summer? Here’s where TCM brings a unique perspective:

  • Weakened Wei Qi (Defensive Energy): Excessive sweating depletes your Wei Qi, the protective energy that safeguards your body from external pathogens.
  • Air Conditioning: The rapid temperature change between hot outdoors and icy indoors can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate temperature, making you vulnerable to pathogens.
  • Cold Drinks: While tempting, excessively cold beverages can weaken your digestive system and make you more susceptible to chills.

In my case, we stayed up late and woke early, getting little sleep.  Our hikes began in warm weather, but quickly became chilly (there is still snow on the ground there…still do not understand why I wanted a summer vacation to even colder weather than we have here in Minnesota!).  Pushing myself, getting little sleep, and exposing myself to vast temperature changes were just the recipe to bring on my summer cold.

TCM’s Cooling Strategies for Summer Wellness

TCM offers a holistic approach to keeping you healthy and preventing summer colds:

  • Diet: Embrace “yin” foods – those with cooling properties. Think fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, and leafy greens. Opt for herbal teas like peppermint or chrysanthemum.
  • Acupuncture: This practice can help regulate Qi and strengthen your Wei Qi, enhancing your body’s natural defenses.
  • Herbs:  already feeling a cold coming on?  Try herbal formulas like Yin Qiao San or Gan Mao Ling.
  • Acupressure: Stimulate specific acupoints like LU 7 (Lung 7) on your inner wrist to promote sweating and potentially alleviate cold symptoms.
  • Lifestyle: Limit sun exposure during peak heat hours, dress in breathable fabrics, and avoid drastic temperature changes. Getting enough rest and drinking plenty of fluids is also important to both prevent, and help treat a summer cold.

Remember, prevention is key! By incorporating these simple TCM practices into your routine, you can maintain a healthy internal balance and enjoy a cool, healthy, and sniffle-free summer.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified TCM practitioner for personalized recommendations.