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July 6, 2011

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Keeping hands and feet warm all year

HAVING cold hands and feet that simply cannot get warm is a common ailment in wintertime but there are also many people (especially women) who suffer from this symptom for the whole year.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cold extremities are related to an imbalance of yin (cold energy) and yang (hot energy) in the body. The yin is increased, and the yang is weakened.

Improper handling of low yin often leads to a kidney yang deficiency that needs treatment lest it becomes chronic.

When coldness attacks the joints for a longer time, serious joint pain (arthralgia) might develop. An attack on the bowels can lead to gastric ulcers.

Coldness along the meridians can make hands and feet feel chilly. Also, poor circulation of qi (energy flow) and subsequently of blood can be a cause of coldness.

The qi and the body fluids cannot reach and nourish the whole body due to congestion in specific parts or organs. The symptoms are often sniffing, running nose, cough, fatigue, body aches and night sweats.

Warming foods, warm baths and regular exercise usually ease light symptoms. For longer-lasting and heavier complaints, acupuncture and herbal medicine are recommended.

Cold extremities are frequently found in pregnant women. Mostly, the blood distribution is imbalanced due to a deficiency of qi and blood, caused by heavy menstrual bleeding or unbalanced working and rest time. Poor nutrition and a low water intake can be reasons as well. To exclude possible serious illnesses, it is always better to consult a doctor.

Summer is the best season to treat and cure typical winter conditions before they worsen in winter. In warm months, acupuncture and herbal remedies can more easily nourish the yang and thereby improve the health of the body.

In winter the cure is more difficult as the body already needs a lot of energy to protect against the cold wind and icy temperatures.

(Doris Rathgeber is founder of Body & Soul Medical Clinics.)

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