The Chinese medical approach to the body is very unique and unlike any other medical system developed. It takes into account the body's relative relationship with the environment around it. In the early texts of the medicine's development, disease names were often attributed to natural environmental phenomena, such as "wind", "heat" and "cold". In fact cold was often considered most damaging, but what exactly is cold in the body and how can we avoid it?
Firstly, a cold natured illness in Chinese medicine does not necessarily mean that the presence of real, palpable cold must be there. An illness or presentation may simply have the traits of cold - that is anything that may be in a state of contraction, constraint, and where movement is impeded can be described as "cold". In Chinese medicine we have a name for this, it is called Bi 痺 (pronounced "Bee"). Often translated as "pain", "numbness" or "paralysis" in modern Chinese, Bi is much more than that in the classical sense. If we look at what this cold weather is doing to us this winter, making us shiver, our muscles tense and contracted, and our energy low (aka "the winter blues") this is similar to what the old texts mean by Bi. So often, in clinic, one might here Dr. White discuss the importance of warmth or heat for their pain. We want blood to circulate and we want to give the right message to the physical structure that it is ok to relax and let go.
Secondly, cold natured illness can include what today we would call the "common cold". The understanding of body temperature and it's relative relationship to the environment around it is paramount to understanding early Chinese medicine. How one's body responds to an increase or decrease to outside temperature will greatly correspond to the bodies reaction: again this may be pain, fever, sweating, chills, fatigue, gastric disturbance, or even depression (as seen in this latest research where a higher body temperature, as in warmth, can help depression - a Chinese medical theory of over 2200 years http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/raising-body-temperature-relieves-depression-symptoms-small-study-finds/48472)
And finally, the treatment of cold. Treating cold or Bi presentations and common cold signs and symptoms is not a simple task. Yes, warming the area may help, but if the cold contraction is occurring at the levels of the tendons and connective tissue the method must change. If it is causing "external "symptoms such as cough, flu, etc then a mixture of acupuncture and herbal medicine is best. How we treat and at what level within the body (skin, tendons, vessels, channels, bone, organs and so forth) means what we do in the clinic must relate and change accordingly.
So, the next time you have any pain, feel tightness in your joints, feel a cold coming along or any other ailment book at Classical Acupuncture Sydney! We can surely help.
In Good Health,
Classical Acupuncture Sydney