‘Cold is death’
This was a saying we were taught in Chinese medicine school. Although I take some issue with this statement, on the whole, I can’t argue too much.
We believe staying warm is essential for maintaining good health. Winter is the season of Yin, which is associated with cold, darkness, and stillness. When we are exposed to too much cold, it can damage our Yang energy, which is associated with warmth, light, and activity.
Yang energy is essential for all bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, and immune system function. When our Yang energy is weak, we are more susceptible to disease and illness.
Here are some of the benefits of staying warm from a Chinese medicine perspective:
- Strengthens the immune system. When we are warm, our bodies are able to produce more white blood cells, which help to fight off infection.
- Improves circulation. Warmth helps to dilate our blood vessels, which improves blood flow and circulation throughout the body. This can help to prevent conditions such as cold hands and feet, Raynaud’s syndrome, and varicose veins.
- Promotes digestion. Our digestive fire is strongest when our bodies are warm. This means that we are better able to digest food and absorb nutrients. Warm spices like cinnamon, and warm ways of preparing foods, like roasting, are popular when the weather turns cold for a good reason.
- Relieves pain and inflammation. Heat can help to relax muscles and reduce inflammation. This can be helpful for conditions such as arthritis, menstrual cramps, and muscle pain. (read more here – link to Tzy’s chronic pain article)
Here are some tips for staying warm from a Chinese medicine perspective:
- Dress in layers. This will allow you to adjust your clothing as needed to stay comfortable.
- Wear warm socks. Your feet are particularly vulnerable to cold, and keeping them warm tends to keep your whole body warm.
- Eat warm, cooked foods. Avoid eating raw or cold foods, as these can weaken your digestive fire. Try roasting your veggies and meats, making soups, and adding in warming spices like cinnamon. Cook your fruits and add in some warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Drink warm beverages. Herbal teas, such as ginger tea are a great way to stay warm and hydrated. Try to stay away from iced cold drinks this time of year.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These substances can dehydrate you and make you feel colder.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise helps to generate Yang energy and keep the body warm.
- Take a warm bath or shower. This is a great way to relax and warm up your body at the end of a long day.
- Extra cold? Use a heating pad on your belly or low back periodically through the day.
- Cold on the inside? Some people get so cold they feel they cannot warm up no matter how many blankets they put on their body. This is a call for warm food or warm drinks, if you feel a deep sensation of cold coming from the interior, start to warm up from the interior as well.
If you are experiencing health problems that are aggravated in the winter or by cold weather, such as pain, chronic fatigue, poor circulation, or frequent colds, come see us. We can help you identify the root cause of your problem and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you heal.