treating coldsNo, I’m not talking about the sneezy summer sniffs, Swine flu, or “Summer Bug” that has invaded your respiratory system. I’m talking about something else. Something that in China is as obvious as 2+2=4, but here in the west is elusively absent. I’m talking here about COLD.

We don’t think much of this in the West. We think of summer as hot and muggy. We think of the high temperature outside, but cast a blind eye to the air conditioned environs where most of us spend the majority of our days. Our bodies are marvelously adaptive and should we have to endure a stifling three months of summer our pores open and blood thins to the point where the heat of summer wafts through us like water through a cheese grater. We become porous enough to handle the heat.

However, us modern first world folk live a curious summer, especially in the midwest. A summer of murky damp heat, combined with dry autumn air. It confuses our physiology, and for those who have a particular sort of constitution, it creates problems.

For those who are sensitive to cold and drafts (you know who you are!) living simultaneously in two seasons is a real challenge. For those who can not bear to enter a grocery store or movie theater without a sweater or jacket due to the wind rush of refrigerated air, living in this bi-polar seesaw of two seasons can bring odd challenges to health. Cold foods result in belly aches, headaches and lassitude. The constant AC whisper of chilled air gives rise to irritably and intermittent cough, or lingering sinus congestion. We point to pollen indexes and food allergies, but the real culprit is environmental; the real source illness is cold itself.

Preposterous? Indeed to our Western minds. However, from the perspective of Chinese medicine us human critters are not removed from nature; we are intricately connected with our environment, and thus influenced by it. So, if you are the kind of person who gets headaches from eating ice cream, or if drinking ice water makes your asthma worse, temperature changes mess with your joints or if your allergies act up after having cold air blown on the back of your neck, then you need to take precautions against the influence of cold. It can be simple as keeping a light jacket with you, avoiding certain foods or giving up icy drinks.

Of course, you could medicate the symptoms, but the underlying root of the problem is still there. Pull that weed out by roots and watch those annoying symptoms disappear.