Cold feet: winter illnesses or signs of illness?

Heat balance plays a major role in Chinese medicine

The same picture every year: winter hardly arrives outside, thick socks, cozy blankets and hot water bottles are used inside again. Any means is right to warm cold toes and feet. Women in particular often suffer from frosty soles - often even at normal temperatures. Conventional medicine usually attributes this to circulatory disorders or low blood pressure and limits its treatment to appropriate medication. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, however, chronic freezing on the feet indicates an imbalance in the heat balance. She attributes this disorder to various causes and derives individual therapies from it.

"Chinese diagnostics differentiate between a large number of warm and cold conditions and generally attaches great importance to the sensation of temperature," explains Dr. Christian Schmincke, TCM expert and head of the clinic at the Steigerwald. Numerous functions of our organism therefore serve to balance external and internal, cooling and warming influences so that the body temperature remains constant. Permanent disorders of this highly complex control system can therefore be an expression of a disease and should therefore be taken seriously. A cold disorder sometimes hides a build-up of waste products in the lower parts of the body, a hidden cold or a disturbed tension regulation in nervous and stress-plagued people. In some cases, cold problems are also an essential starting point in Chinese diagnosis and therapy for migraines, rheumatism or intestinal infections.

In order to regulate the body temperature and treat cold diseases, Chinese medicine uses the power of herbal components such as roots, bark or tubers, which patients - boiled up as so-called decoctions - consume in small sips throughout the day. The Chinese attribute certain warming or cooling effects to each of the nearly 3,000 raw medicines. For this reason, experienced TCM experts put together an individual recipe for each person concerned on the basis of a comprehensive diagnosis, which also includes pulse palpation and tongue analysis, and continuously adapt this to the recovery process. In addition, as part of acupuncture and Tuina massages, they use moxibustion as a warming measure, in which they stimulate certain body points with the help of acupuncture needles and a mugwort cigar.

However, if the "ice feet" phenomenon occurs only temporarily and in the cold season, TCM experts recommend eating warming food and drinks. Food such as oats, fennel, pumpkin, leek or certain spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom or cloves stimulate the digestive organs and thus the production of self-heating. Local heat in the form of a hot water bottle or grain pillow is also suitable for stimulating natural temperature regulation. “In principle, self-produced heat has a more sustainable effect. Therefore, alternating baths are better than the hot tub and woolen clothes rather than direct heat supply, ”advises Dr. Schmincke. (pm)

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