Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Staying Warm

Friday, February 15th, 2019

Snow Shovel Car 300x199 Staying Warm

As our winter season continues to trudge along, many people are trying to escape the cold, whether it’s by cranking up the thermostat at home or travelling on holidays to somewhere sunny and warm.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, cold isn’t just something to deal with in wintertime; Cold is actually viewed as a potential cause of illness and health problems. Under normal circumstances, a healthy person is able to adapt to their natural surroundings and environment. However, these environmental factors, including Cold, can invade the body if it is in a weakened state and produce a wide range of symptoms depending on what specific area has been affected.

For example, asthma, coughing, fatigue, a sensitive or weak digestive tract, joint pain, muscle cramps, menstrual disorders, headaches, or chronic back pain are just some of the symptoms that can result from Cold entering into the body.

In order to help our bodies adapt better and stay healthier, there are some simple things that we can do in our daily lives:

  1. Warming diet – many people naturally tend to crave warming foods in the winter – soups, stews, and other similar comfort foods are ideal for this time of year. Adding some warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and clove can also be beneficial.
  2. Warming exercise – moderate exercise on a daily basis can improve the blood and energy circulation throughout the body. Moderate is the key word though, as too much intensity, especially when resulting in excessive sweating, can actually have the opposite effect.
  3. Warming abdomen – many acupuncture patients have experienced the benefits of moxibustion, a type of herbal heat therapy, on their abdomen to help with their health issues. Although doing moxa treatment at home isn’t always practical, keeping the abdomen area warm is still important in maintaining overall good health. In fact in Japan, a traditional type of garment called Hara Maki (literally translated as “belly wrap”) is worn to keep the lower abdomen and lumbar area cozy warm by retaining heat, which in turn has the effect of keeping the rest of the body warm as well.

Although it might not be quite the same as lounging on a tropical beach, these habits can still be useful in helping us to get through the winter and stay a little warmer.

Causes of Disease – Part 1: Emotions and Environment

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

“So what caused the health problem?” This is a common question asked by patients in my acupuncture clinic.

For Western minds, we’re used to explaining and understanding things in a direct linear cause-and-effect manner. However, Eastern medicine has observed that natural phenomena in the real world, including our own health, is not always simple or black and white; many factors can contribute and interact with each other to create imbalance and disease pathology in our lives.

Because of this, Traditional Chinese Medicine groups the etiology, or causes of disease, into several main categories.

1) Internal causes – Eastern medicine recognizes that emotions, especially when they are prolonged, have a significant impact on our health, with each emotional state corresponding to a particular internal organ:

  • anger
  • excessive joy
  • pensiveness
  • grief
  • sorrow
  • fear
  • fright

It is interesting to note that even Western medicine is discovering and acknowledging the role of emotions on our health through certain modern fields of medical research such as psychoneuroimmunology.

2) External causes – Traditional Chinese Medicine also recognizes that our environment, including changes in temperature, air pressure, and humidity (classically described as Wind, Cold, Heat, Dampness, and Dryness), can have an impact on our health.

For example, many people who live here in the cold and damp temperate rain forest climate of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada notice that their rheumatic joint pain improves when they travel down south to a warm and dry climate and returns when they come back home. For others, a fluctuation of symptoms that they experience may also be related to certain times of the year or changes in the seasons.

3) Other causes – the third and final category is wide ranging and includes many other factors such as:

  • diet
  • overwork
  • fatigue
  • trauma
  • pathogen infections

All of these causes can create specific patterns of signs and symptoms in a person’s health. By recognizing and addressing the causes and patterns of imbalance, the healing ability of the body can be nurtured to help regain a healthier state of balance.