The most important thing our body needs to sustain life is water. Since we need water to serve this basic purpose we might as well get the most out of what we drink. Most Americans drink water with ice or water that has been refrigerated. From a Chinese Medicine perspective this can and will result in a multitude of chronic health problems. The drinking of cold water will also aggravate other conditions that may not seem related. I know this may sound strange for most people but from a Chinese Medicine perspective it makes perfect sense.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, all physiological functions in the body are put in motion by warmth. In Chinese Medicine this warmth is called qi and yang. Our bodies rely on this warmth to remain alive. From a Chinese medicine perspective the spleen and stomach are the starting point for the transformation of food and liquid. Once your stomach receives the food the qi of the spleen begins to transform the essence of that food into useful energy. This requires warmth.
So what happens when you introduce cold substances into your body? When I say cold substances I mean drinks or foods that are consumed directly after being taken out of the refrigerator, freezer or cold tap water. This cold causes the energy of your spleen and stomach to slow down and congeal. This slowing down causes a disruption in many body systems especially in the digestive system. The most apparent symptoms that arise from this slowing down are indigestion, bloating, constipation, food cravings, stomach pain, obesity, a lessened ability to deal with stress, anxiety, chronic pain, fatigue and feelings of depression. Even though all of these symptoms are directly related to the spleen and stomach you will also see a cascading effect across every organ system in the body. This is because your body gets all of its energy and nutrition from the process that begins in the spleen and stomach.
Chinese medicine believes that the spleen not only has an effect on digestive function it also has a lot do with regulating the hormonal system especially in women. That is why drinking cold water can also aggravate many women’s health issues as well. This includes menstrual pain, fertility, vaginal discharge, menstrual timing and the actual menstrual bleeding.
So now lets get back to the issue that I began with. Water. I would like to give you a chance to test and see if the ideas of Chinese Medicine have a positive effect on your health.
The test is switching from drinking cold water to drinking hot water. When you wake up in the morning boil yourself a cup of water. Drink the water at the same temperature that you would drink a cup of tea. This should be the first thing you do when you wake up. Do this before you eat. For the rest of the day drink boiled water instead of cold water, coffee, juice, tea or soda. Try doing this for at least three to four weeks and see how you feel.
Usually the first week of switching from cold water to hot water can be difficult. Many patients do not like the taste. Many others feel they are unable to quench their thirst. These are all very normal things to happen. Hang in there through the first week. By the second week you should start noticing your body is becoming accustomed to the warm water and you may also start seeing changes in your health. By the third and fourth week any changes in your health will become more pronounced.
You may not have access to hot water all the time. Some people say they cannot get hot water at work. If that is the case I would suggest getting a large thermos to take with you. Also most restaurants will serve you hot water if you ask. My wife and I ask for it all the time when we are out. You may get some weird looks sometimes but you should not feel embarrassed. If you cannot get hot water do not panic. You can drink room temperature water if hot water is not available. Just avoid cold water and try and drink the hot water as much as possible.
You will most likely see changes in your digestion, mood and energy levels. You can also see changes in many chronic problems that you may be dealing with. Everything from the lessening of menstrual pain to better mood if you suffer from mild depression and anxiety. As I said earlier, your spleen and stomach are the beginning of energy formation in your body. This can have an effect on all aspects of your health.
The biggest question people ask is: Can’t I just drink hot tea? Some people would benefit from drinking tea while others may make their symptoms worse. I would say just try the water alone. To decide how to fine tune your eating and drinking habits I would suggest making an appointment to come into my Rego Park office and see me or you should find a qualified Chinese Medicine practitioner in your area.