Cold Explained by Chinese Medicine

by HCHC on February 5, 2014

by Chris Hammond M.Ac.,L.Ac.

With the cold weather upon us, I thought it would be useful to talk a bit about the effects of cold. Cold has the quality of contracting muscles and slowing down qi and metabolic function in the body. Cold in the body means that there is an absence of qi as qi brings warmth. Having stronger qi will help protect from external cold and will keep the body warm. Cold can invade the body if one has weak qi or is over exposed to the elements. A common place for cold to enter is at the nape of the neck and the upper back however it can enter anywhere. Another way of being invaded is to eat and drink lots of cold foods and beverages which is unwise during cold weather. The body has to heat everything back up to body temperature and if the digestive qi is weak it can invade the body.

tissueThe nature of pain caused by cold is that it is deep, fixed, and hurts more with pressure. It is like a bone level pain that feels very painful.

Cold can also be caused internally which is a reflection of deficient qi. Naturally people tend to get colder as they get older, women get hot around menopause but colder too as their qi declines. Lack of exercise is another cause of cold. Chronic internal cold is often a reflection of kidney qi deficiency. Symptoms which relate to this are a low libido, tiredness, chronic lower back ache, knee pain and hair loss. Cold is often felt first in the hands and feet with poor circulation then spreads from there.

For externally contracted cold the goal is to move the cold out of the body. An herb heated up on points called moxa is extremely useful as are heat lamps. There are very effective acupuncture points which help to vent cold out. Hot baths, heating pads, drinking hot beverages and also exercising the affected area will compliment treatment.

For internally generated cold we often focus on tonifying the kidneys to increase the body’s qi. Moxa and heat lamps are also very helpful. Lifestyle wise we recommend plenty of sleep and rest, to refrain from intense exercise, and to stay warm.

The greatest thing you can do in the cold weather is to protect yourself from it by covering up and getting plenty of rest to keep your qi strong.

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