Some people feel cold all the time even when other people are fine. They might have cold hands, cold feet or both. Sometimes the coldness can be resolved by an extra layer of coat or blanket. But in some case, the hand or feet remains cold even during the Summer months. According to the Traditionally Chinese Medicine theory, persistently cold extremities,i.e. the cold hands and feet, usually indicate an internal imbalance, stagnation of Blood or Qi deficiency.
Same symptoms, Different causes
Health concerns like Raynaud's syndrome, hypothyroidism, B-12 deficiency, and anemi, all risks poor circulation to the extremities and result in cold hands and feet. The same goes for TCM. While the symptom is similar, the cause and management could be different. Using the inappropriate method is not only useless, but could even make the situation worse.
Here are the common TCM imbalance the their corresponding root causes:
Yang deficiency Yang represents the activation and warmth of the body; deficiency means it is less than optimal level. Yang energy is like the Fire energy that warms and lights up or body. When we are energies, we feel uplifted, motivated and warm. Otherwise, we are sloppy, sluggish and cold. Common cause of Yang deficiency is by over exposed or over consuming coldness. For example, under dressing for cold or windy weather, or eating too much raw vegetables, too much cold food/drinks.
Stagnation of Blood Blood carries the nutrients and fuels to our tissues then exchange for waste and carry them away. For different reasons, we might have too little nutrients, too much waste or weak circulation power making the blood not reaching certain part of the body. Since the extremities are the furtherest away from the heart, they are often the first sign of the overall problem.
Qi deficiency Qi is a form of vital energy that keeps our circulation up and going on. Without the Qi energy, we lack the fuel to burn in to Fire and the Blood lacks power to be pumped. The two main source of Qi energy is our breathing and food intake. Qi deficiency could result from too much or too little exercise, inappropriate or insufficient diet. [Read more about Qi deficiency: what is it and how do you manage it] [Read more about Jing, Qi & Shen: The Three Treasures in Traditional Chinese Medicine]
Chronic illness, Injuries, Congenital or Environmental risks Living in cold, windy or dump enviroments would defiintely take up more heat from our body. In general, women are more likely to suffer from cold intolerance than men. Sometimes, the condition is congential or caused by traumas or chronic illness.
Warming recipes for the Cold Hand And Feet?
So if the problem is coldness, we should just warm it up? Yes and no. It is quite common to have herbal tea or winter spices as a cold weather remedy. But do mind that cold extremities are only the superficial symptom. The root causes varies from person to person. For example, a warm cup of tea is nice but if you are drinking green tea, which is cool in nature, it might damage your Yang energy (Stomach Fire) further. Or if you are using the hot nature spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, you could risk heating the wrong system or aggravate the dump-heat toxins. For example, someone eats too much raw food and has a cold Stomach, eating cinnamon to warm the Kidney system is not the most suitable. It migh even further burns out the Kidney Yin energy thus affecting the Blood regeneration. In another case, if the cold extremeties are caused by dump-heat toxins blocking the meridians, it means the heat energy is displaced. There are too much heat in the wrong place (imagine an electrical sub-station is on fire cutting off the normal electricity supply) then in such case, putting more Fire spices will only make the situation worse. [Read more: Cook your food]
Here Are A List Of Safe And Useful Self-Management For Cold Extremities
Protect your hands and ankle from winter chills with gloves and long socks, plus always protect your neck and head area (the Yang area) and keep the belly and lower back warm (the core center of vital energy);
Practice general exercise regularly but avoid excessive strenuously training like cross-country skiing, running or cycling; [Read more: Bai Juan Jin: The Eight Brocades]
Quit alcohol and sweets.
TCM Treatment For Cold Hand And Feet
As mentioned above, the cause of cold extremities is very diverse. Therefore, the TCM practitioner will make individualized plan and provide the corresponding treatmeats like chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, scraping, aerobic exercise, foot bath, and diet adjustments.