It has been quite a while since I wrote the original posting on the benefits of drinking hot water. I was inspired to write more on the benefits of drinking hot water since we are in the middle of the winter season and this is the most important time of the year to consume warm food and beverages. The original post was put up in 2012 and I have gained some more insight and easier ways of explaining the benefits of consuming hot water rather than cold.
While working with patients I have noticed how different temperatures of water effect people in three distinct ways. In very basic terms ice water will cause and aggravate many chronic health conditions. Drinking room temperature water will not have a negative effect on health. It also will not have a very obvious effect on improving health aside from drinking enough fluids will keep a person hydrated. Consuming hot water on the other hand will not only prevent the worsening of a patients symptoms but will also act as a mild treatment for many chronic conditions.
The patients that see the most obvious changes are those that are suffering from acid reflux, constipation, loose stools, abdominal pain, nausea and many other digestive difficulties. Other patients that have also seen obvious changes are those that suffer from respiratory ailments and chronic pain. These include sinus issues in general, asthma, colds, flus and low immunity etc.
I can remember one interesting case where a patient was coming for the treatment of back pain, chronic sinus congestion and chronic vaginal discharge. I only saw this patient once a week for a few weeks. During her first acupuncture session we focused on her lower back pain and I suggested that she should stop drinking ice water and switch to drinking boiled water exclusively. After one week her sinus congestion cleared up by 50% and her vaginal discharge ceased.
Another patient I am currently seeing came originally for chronic loose stools, fatigue, excessive weight, anxiety, PCOS causing irregular periods and edema in her legs. After two acupuncture sessions and drinking hot water for two weeks her stools are fully formed. She is much less anxious and she is much more energetic. She also lost six pounds in this short period of time.
Countless other patients have gotten relief from abdominal pain, anxiety, fatigue, loose stools, acid reflux, constipation, and many other digestive disorders. Too many to cover here.
Many patients also report after they drink warm water for a period of time if they drink cold water they feel very uncomfortable. Bloating and abdominal pain are the most common complaints.
This phenomena does not have a modern scientific explanation. I have seen these things happening everyday while working with patients. For many patients if they just stopped drinking cold water and switched to warm they would feel a lot better in regards to digestion, respiration, energy levels, mood, stress levels and immunity. They would not be cured but it will allow the acupuncture, herbal medicine, tuina, etc. to work much better.
When discussing the difference in the effect of drinking hot and cold water I often make the comparison of putting your hand in a bucket of water versus a warm bath. When you put your hand in a bucket of ice water the circulation in your hand starts to slow. Movement of the muscles become more difficult and eventually it will become numb and painful. Your body will also become more tense overall. If you put your hand into a warm bath the circulation in your hand will become stronger. The muscles in your hand will become more relaxed and movement will not become restricted. You should also experience some relaxation.
It is no different when you drink cold water. The muscles in your chest and abdomen will become tense and over time blood flow will be constricted. As a result the movement through the respiratory and digestive system will be slowed.
This explanation is not based on western science and it is a very simplistic view of Chinese medicine. That does not mean it is not worth trying. It does not cost anything and there are no side effects.
Photo: ‘A cup of hot tea’ by Olga Filonenko Courtesy of Creative Commons http://bit.ly/1z85Op1