Cold Hands and Feet?
Hey, Mainahs, guess what? It’s freakin’ COLD out there!!!! It’s almost unbearable.
I used to be one of those people – if I caught a chill, especially in the winter, I couldn’t kick it. It was always a bit confusing to me, this inability for me to shake a chill. I don’t have a stationary job, I eat relatively well, and I exercise regularly. Shouldn’t I be… like naturally toasty? Alas, the wonderful world of Chinese medicine explained my problem with the kind of theory that makes perfect sense, and then it went ahead and provided me with some simple ways to start dealing with this winter-relevant problem.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been on the “colder” side. When I was a teenager I resorted to taking an extra shower to warm up. I’d blast scorching water on my back for 20 minutes until the whole bathroom was fogged with steam and my mother was pounding on the bathroom door, threatening my life. I’d leave my impromptu sauna pink and warm and happy. Obviously, there were a couple of glaring problems with this method of warming up – it was inconvenient, it was wasteful, and it made my mom turn a deep purple. But nothing else seemed to help, and if I didn’t warm up after catching a chill, I’d be nothing more than a set of chattering teeth for the rest of the day. My back would tense up, my jaw would clench involuntarily, and I’d spend my day feeling about as flexible as a chopstick.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, I was suffering from basic Yang deficiency. There’s a simple metaphor that can help explain the concept of yang deficiency – it was as if my “pilot light” was out. I wasn’t able to warm up because I did not have the starter flame to ignite my auxiliary burners. So, how to warm yourself up when you’re cold from the inside out?
There’s a couple of things you can do, the first being a visit to your local acupuncturist.
You can also check out the following recipe, and incorporate this into your winter as your sippin’ tea. Being a person who has fantasized about using whale blubber as an overcoat, this is a personal favorite because it warms you up AND it tastes really good.
Note: If you are experiencing a significant change in body temperature and this is a new symptom, consider seeing your primary care practitioner for a checkup. Sudden changes in body temperature can have serious health implications.
A Simple Tea with Ingredients from your Kitchen Cabinet
Make a mug of this deliciousness to warm up, especially after your wife pelts you in the back of the head with a snowball that melts and makes its way under your scarf and down your back:
The Good Mainah’s Bone Warming Tea
-½ teaspoon of cinnamon (most commercial cinnamon is a mixture of a couple of species of cinnamon, which is okay for this recipe; in Chinese medicine, the bark of the cassia tree is used, but most commercial cinnamon contains ground cassia)
–1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
-½ teaspoon of turmeric (which is also anti-inflammatory)
-¼ tsp of cardamom
–small piece of peeled, fresh ginger about the size of the top 1/3 of your thumb, chopped into little pieces OR ½ teaspoon dried ginger (dried ginger is actually more warming than fresh ginger, so consider using dried ginger if you are very cold)
–one cup of almond/coconut/hemp/whatever/cow milk (I like the vanilla-flavored ones, but they can be pretty sweet, so careful if you are trying to maintain blood-sugar levels)
-combine all ingredients in a saucepan, warm over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly so the bottom doesn’t burn
-strain and drink up (if you love ginger, don’t strain and chomp those little cubes of sweet heat!)
(In Chinese medicine, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and cardamom are all Yang-fortifying spices, so you can use these flavors liberally when preparing food. Be aware – if you find yourself going crazy on the warming spices to the point where you are provoking perspiration, lay off. Remember to listen to your body; it tends to let you know when it has found balance).
This tea will help you warm up, but consider coming to see an acupuncturist at Wildwood Medicine. There are many acupuncture techniques (including moxabustion) and herbal formulas that can help you reach your goal quickly and efficiently. We’ll help you stoke those embers and stay warm through the winter!