12 Tips for Cold Weather Health
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine,
32, rue Principale, Aylmer
In Canada, nature continually reminds us that change is inevitable. China has similar weather, being on the Northern hemisphere, and the study of the cycles in nature was the foundation for the theory of Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine. The ancient Chinese observed how weather, seasons and the external environment affect our health. If we harmonize with nature, we can thrive and experience vitality and strong health, but if we are in discord with nature, we can fall ill very quickly.
That’s why traditional Chinese medicine has many common sense home remedies for staying healthy during different seasons. I want to share the most important ones with you, so that you can benefit from these and hopefully avert falling ill this winter.
Tip #1 Avoid cold and raw foods, including cold drinks.
Tip #2 Eat warm, cooked foods, including soups & stews. A little bit of spice is good (more so at lunch over breakfast or dinner, but follow your gut on this).
Tip #3 If you’re prone to catching colds, keep your feet, ankles, lower back, neck and ears warm and protected from the wind cold.
Tip #4 The lungs, throat and sinuses don’t like to get too dry. Indoor air can be dry due to heating, so invest in a humidifier at home and maybe even in your bedroom. You may even want to get a little diffuser for your office desk.
Tip #5 If you catch a chill and you feel it affecting your body, sweat it out in a hot bath, sauna, exercise or drink hot ginger & fresh scallion tea and wrap yourself in thick blankets. Sweat it out until the cold is gone.
Tip #6 Keep your neck, upper back and upper chest limber and massage them frequently. These areas correspond to lymphatic drainage of the head sinuses and the immune system. When the neck gets tight and tense, the Japanese call this “kori,” which becomes a risk factor, and sometimes a cause, for other ailments of the head, like sinus colds, headaches, etc.
Tip #7 If your feet are always cold, take daily hot foot baths. You can put a few slices of ginger in the water to help the heat penetrate better. We also have a limited supply of herbal moxa warming bath soaks that I sourced in Japan available at the clinic. They work great to warm up the feet and body.
Tip #8 Sleep and rest more. This may be the single most important and overlooked tip. The body does its most effective self-healing during rest and sleep. As your body is a part of nature, and nature is more Yin during this season, your body craves more Yin time. If you give it more sleep and rest during this time of year, it will give you more energy and health when you need it.
Tip #9 Make a plan to do some outdoor winter activities. There are so many different sports and activities that you can choose from. The key is to find one that seems fun or exciting to you. Get more clothes or invest in better winter gear if that helps to get you outside. Then just do it! Don’t overthink it or listen to your doubts. The body loves exercise and fresh air.
Tip #10 Take Vitamin D regularly. This may not be a Chinese medicine tip, but it’s been shown that 100% of Canadians are Vitamin D deficient in the winter. Since Vitamin D is important for immunity and many other health functions, it’s recommended that everyone take 1000 IU per day. Also, soak up the sun at every opportunity! You may also want to invest in full spectrum light bulbs for these dark months.
Tip #11 Keep Vitamin C and cold-fighting herbs on hand in case you feel you are exposed to something (we carry some at the clinic that we can arm you with).
Tip #12 Here’s a great immune boosting and mucus fighting tea that you can prepare for yourself if you feel you are coming doing with something: 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp of honey, half a lemon and three drops grapefruit seed extract in hot water.
Bonus Air Travelling Tip: Get a facemask and wear it the whole time on the flight. This will not only protect you from catching something from a passenger that may be rows away, but it will also reduce your oral and sinus dehydration on the flight.
Our culture is a little behind the times when it comes to wearing facemasks. People don’t want to be judged, but if you are sick and you must go out and be around other people, then you should wear one to protect others, don’t you think? If you wear a facemask when you are sick, the only judgement you should get is that you are being responsible.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have a wonderful winter!