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cold-feet     Cold is a major disease factor in Chinese medicine.  Cold causes qi and blood to slow down and stagnate.  This slowing down has an effect on your physical body as well as your mental and emotional body.  Cold is referred to as a yin pathogen and overtime will harm the bodies life force or yang energy.

       Chinese Medicine theory always reflects on the natural world and how the functions of the body are reflections of the natural world.  For example all of the external pathological factors causing illness are phenomena that exist in nature.  These being wind, dampness, dryness, cold, heat, and summer heat.  All are related to a particular season and patterns of disease.  In this posting I will mostly discuss cold because as Americans we expose ourselves to coldness more than any other pathological factor.  This is due partially to the way we dress but mostly due to  the way we eat and drink.  All processes in the human body require warmth.  When excessive cold is introduced into the body it causes functioning of many different organ systems to slow.

      Cold can effect every organ system and physical structure in your body.  Here is a short list of illnesses often associated with excess cold or weak yang qi:  Body pain (knee, lower back, etc.) which often worse in cold weather and improves with application of warmth, asthma, loose stools, menstrual pain, sluggish digestion, fatigue, some forms of anxiety and depression, any disease that is made worse with cold and better with application of heat.  This is just a short list of illnesses that can be associated with cold.
      Where does all this cold come from?  Cold mostly enters your body through your environment or through the food and drinks you consume on a daily basis.  In this post I would like to mention one thing you can do to protect your yang qi or life force and will  also prevent cold from entering your body through your environment.  NEVER WALK BAREFOOT ON A COLD FLOOR!  Cold easily enters through your feet through the channels of your legs.  These channels include spleen, stomach, liver, gallbladder, kidney and bladder.  All of these channels and organ systems can be injured by cold.  By walking barefoot you are inviting the cold into your body.  Besides keeping your feet covered you should also keep your legs and waist properly protected from the cold as well.  In the winter make sure to wear warm socks and slippers when you are at home.
      As Americans we tend to under dress in the winter.  I often see people on the subway wearing heavy coats with thin canvas sneakers without socks or open toed shoes.  Chinese Medicine says to keep your body below the waist warm and above should be cool.  This does not mean to not wear a coat.  It means your energy should be warm and secure around your waist and light and relaxed above.
      Most floors in most homes are cold all year round so you should make sure to wear light slippers in the warmer months as well.  My wife and I wear slippers all year round to keep our yang qi strong and to protect us from the cold.  Keeping your feet warm will not treat disease it will help to keep you healthy and should be part of a larger treatment plan if you are already ill.
      In my office in Mamaroneck many women complain of feeling cold.  Some just hands and feet while others their whole body.  After some dietary changes and dressing properly many of these women see drastic changes in their health.  Just remember NEVER WALK BAREFOOT ON A COLD FLOOR!
Photo : ‘205/365 F is for Feet and Freezing’ – by Stuartpilbrow – Courtesy of Creative Commons
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