“Thus, the wind-evil is the main factor to induce various disease, it has many variations, and has no regular pattern when it turns to become other diseases. But, in the last analysis, the diseases are stemmed from the invasion of wind-evil.” – Simple Questions (Su Wen), Chapter 42.
Copley Square is a wind tunnel. Have you seen the fellow with the scooter and the home made plastic sail zipping around the Square? Some days I feel like my feet are going to lift off the ground! Tradition says we need to bundle up and protect our neck, hopefully to prevent “catching a cold” … but why?
I am fascinated at how many folk remedies cross countries and cultures. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is very important to cover your neck when the temperature is cold and the weather is windy. “What’s wrong with a little wind?”, you ask? Wind is one of six external pathogens in Chinese medicine (the other five being: Cold, Damp, Heat, Summer Heat, and Dryness). The back of the neck is particularly vulnerable to Wind, and when your pores are open Wind can enter into your body’s acupuncture channels. Wind is the carrier of Heat or Cold into the body. A Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold invasion is the equivalent of catching a cold. Have you noticed that when you first start to catch a cold, you have a stiff neck followed by headaches, chills, fever, and fatigue? These are symptoms of a Wind-Cold invasion. Wind-Heat may manifest with a sore throat in addition to the other symptoms. A stiff neck is the first sign of a Wind invasion. Interestingly many of the acupuncture point names around the neck refer to Wind. So how does one expel of Wind from the body?
Don’t let it invade in the first place: Wear a scarf. After exercising at the gym, yoga class, etc. bundle up before going out into the cold. You’re sweaty and your pores are wide open for Wind to invade. If you’re an outdoor runner make sure to keep your neck protected as well.
You start to notice a stiff neck: Food is medicine. Make yourself a scallion tea. Take 5 scallions and slice from the bulb to light green part. Add it to 2 C of boiling water then simmer for 15 minutes. Cool, strain, then drink. If a scallion tea is strange to you then you may add 1 TBS of miso paste and make a soup. Then take a warm Epsom salt bath for 20 minutes, bundle up and go to bed. Repeat the soup as needed until you break a sweat. This will only be useful in the very beginning stages.
The stiff neck persists and now you’re getting a headache, congestion, body aches and possibly sore throat: Now it’s time for acupuncture and herbs. If you come in right way it may only take one or two treatments to help your body release the Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold. If it usually takes you a week to get over a cold, treatments will reduce your recovery time and severity of symptoms.
You’re constantly getting cold symptoms: This is a chronic problem that needs to be addressed on deeper level. This is where regular treatments will be helpful in supporting your immune system. Diet also needs to be evaluated. In Chinese Medicine Wei Qi is your protective qi that is likened to your immune system. Its strength is derived from the food that you eat. If you don’t eat highly nutritious foods you’re not going to have a strong immune system. Emotional stress also plays a large role. In Chinese medicine the Lung qi is responsible for dispersing and diffusing the Wei qi to the surface of your body for protection. Grief and sadness suppress and weaken the Lung qi thereby leaving your exterior vulnerable to constant Wind invasion.
Remember: Eat well, get rest, and make sure to always grab your scarf and bundle up when you go outside. Wishing you a healthy transition from fall to winter!