Do you ever wonder why cold and flu season occurs around the same time of the year, every year?
It’s snot cold and flu season (bad pun intended) because that’s when people are getting sick. It’s cold and flu season because Mother Nature is working her mojo at certain times of the year, and that’s when people are more likely to get sick. Learn the ancient Chinese Medicine perspective on nature so that you can stay healthy.
One very important premise of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that humans are a part of nature. Our bodies aren’t separate from the elements. Even if we stay inside air-conditioned and heated homes, we can’t shut out nature because we’re a part of nature. Our bodies are affected by the weather, elements, and even the seasons.
If we ignore these outside influences, we overlook an important component of health and vitality. We can’t escape our biology. In order for our bodies to be healthy and in balance, we need to be in harmony with nature.
As we head into the fall (or spring if you live in the Southern hemisphere), it’s important to pay attention to the weather. That’s because it can affect your body’s ability to stay healthy. This is the time of the year when people are more likely to catch a cold, flu, or other respiratory virus—and it’s because of the weather.
While you can’t avoid the elements, you can listen to Mother Nature’s cues and follow Chinese Medicine principles to safeguard your health and vitality.
Six Pernicious Influences
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are six pernicious influences that can affect the body. When I was studying acupuncture and first heard the word pernicious, I had to look it up in the dictionary because I’d never heard the word before.
Pernicious, as defined by Merriam Webster, means “highly injurious or destructive, deadly.”
According to Chinese Medicine, the six pernicious influences are wind, cold, dampness, summer heat, dryness, and fire. These pernicious influences are sometimes referred to as external pathogens or external evils, but essentially what it boils down to is that the weather can affect your body.
- Wind is literally windy weather.
- Cold refers to cold temperatures.
- Dampness can include humidity when it’s hot outside, or the dampness that accompanies a rainy day.
- Summer heat refers to late summer weather when it’s hot and humid.
- Dryness is when the air is extremely dry and humidity is low.
- Fire refers to extreme heat such as the 107-degree days we experienced in California this summer. It can also describe the smoky air from the California wildfires.
What Makes Pernicious Influences Highly Injurious to Your Health?
The Chinese Medicine perspective is that pernicious influences can “invade” the body and disrupt the body’s internal state of balance. When the body is out of balance, it’s less resilient and the immune system is weakened. As a result, external evil can gain a foothold and cause illness.
This concept sounds odd and unbelievable when you first hear of it. When I began studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and learned how “wind” can “invade” the body, I thought it was ridiculous that being exposed to wind could cause me to catch a cold.
But guess what happened?
One day, I was out for a walk and it was super windy. I only had shorts and a T-shirt on, and I was feeling a bit chilly. I remember thinking, “It’s windy, but there’s no way I’m going to get sick.”
I caught a cold.
After that happened, I started to think, maybe there’s actually some truth to this. I thought about all the times my mom had told me to cover up or bring a sweater—and it all started making sense.
Because our bodies are part of nature, they adapt to the weather conditions. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the body’s pores open up more when it’s hot outside, and they close when it’s cold outside. When temperatures are fluctuating rapidly over a short period of time, it’s difficult for the body to regulate itself, and this can upset the body’s internal balance.
If the body is out of balance, it’s not as strong and resilient. As a result, the immune system is weaker, and that’s why people are more susceptible to catching a respiratory virus when the seasons are changing.
Summer to fall, and winter to spring, are times of the year when it’s more likely to be hot one day and cold on another. In addition, with modern heating and cooling, you can go from super cold outside to a warm and stuffy house. Or you can go from a heat wave outside into a chilly air-conditioned room. This rapid change of temperatures can also affect the body.
Another thing to note is that changing weather masses are usually accompanied by wind. Pay attention the next time you check the weather forecast. If there’s a major temperature shift, you’ll likely notice that it’s windier on the day when the temperatures are changing rapidly.
The Western Medicine View on “Cold Invasion”
One of the first books on Traditional Chinese Medicine was written over 2,000 years ago. Back then, they didn’t have microscopes or lab equipment, so it wasn’t possible to see bacteria and viruses.
But if you think of external evil as encompassing germs, bacteria, viruses, allergens, and anything that can enter the respiratory tract and cause irritation, then you begin to see how pernicious influences can lead to disease.
With COVID going on in the world, I decided to research the Western medicine perspective on temperature to see if there was any supporting evidence about the correlation between cold weather and getting sick.
I hit pay dirt.
Did you know that cold viruses reproduce more efficiently in the cooler environment inside the nose than at the core body temperature inside the lungs?
In a 2016 Yale study, they found that the cold virus replicates more easily when the temperature in the nose drops below the core body temperature. Akiko Iwasaki, the author of the study, noted that, “In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses.”
When it’s cold and windy, your body is going to conserve heat in its core, and then the extremities such as your nose are going to be cooler.
Pernicious influences really do affect the body’s ability to defend against external evil
I’m always fascinated how Chinese Medicine practitioners knew these things 2,000 years ago. While Chinese Medicine explains things in poetic and esoteric terms, it’s actually pretty spot on, and often corroborated by modern science.
What You Can Do to Help Maintain Your Body’s Balance
While you can’t place a mini heater on your nose, there are three things you can do to help maintain your body’s internal balance so that you’re more resilient against respiratory viruses. In a nutshell, here’s what you can do:
- Minimize and protect against exposure to pernicious influences
- Counterbalance the effects of a pernicious influence
- Strengthen your body’s overall resilience and internal balance
1) Minimize and Protect Against Exposure to Pernicious Influences
There’s a hilarious YouTube video series on “Things Asian Parents Do.” I watched it a few years ago, so I don’t remember if it was this series where I saw an Asian mother run out of the house, chasing her teenager with a coat. She insisted they take the coat even though it was really hot outside.
That’s my mom!
And that’s me!!! I make my son take a hoodie to school even when he complains it’s hot.
When there’s a potential for wind or cold, bring a jacket because it can help protect you from these pernicious influences. You especially want to cover up your head and neck to protect against wind and cold. If possible, it’s good to avoid spending a lot of time outside when it’s windy.
My parents would also get on my case about sweating and wind exposure. As a kid, I thought my parents were being annoying. But now that I understand Chinese Medicine, I realize it’s actually a really good idea.
When you sweat, your pores are open, and this makes it easier for the pernicious influences of wind and cold to enter the body through the open pores. So don’t workout and then head outside into the cold without first cooling down and wiping off the sweat.
You also want to avoid exposure to mechanical sources of wind. This includes fans and air conditioning. If it’s really hot outside and you come indoors, don’t plant your sweaty body in front of the vent with the air blowing on you.
2) Counterbalance the Effects of a Pernicious Influence
Of course, it’s not realistic to completely avoid going outside. Instead, do your best to avoid being outside during extreme weather. And if you can’t avoid the extreme weather, dress appropriately. There are also things you can do to help counterbalance the effects of a pernicious influence.
Chinese Medicine is about finding balance. If you’re too hot, you want to cool the body, and if you’re too cold, you want to warm the body—but not in an extreme way. Instead, if you come in from a chilly winter day, have a cup of tea or a warm shower to counterbalance the cold. Eat warm and hearty foods like oatmeal to help warm up.
This doesn’t work the same way if it’s hot outside. You don’t want to be drinking ice water or taking a cold shower if it’s a really hot day. Chinese Medicine considers the application of cold temperature to be too shocking for the body, but you can eat foods that have cooling properties.
According to Chinese Medicine, foods have different “temperatures” that affect the body, and it doesn’t always relate to the physical temperature of the food. Interestingly, many of the cooling foods are plentiful in the summer.
For example, Mother Nature naturally provides cooling foods in the summer such as fruits, and summer veggies such as lettuce and cucumbers. These have a cooling effect on the body.
Sorry, I know you wanted to hear ice cream was the answer. Lol!
Listen to Mother Nature because she provides us with what we need. In the summer, she gives us cooling foods to balance against the heat of summer. And in the fall and winter, she gives us grains that help keep us warm. We’re also naturally drawn to heartier foods in the winter—great foods to counteract the cold!
3) Strengthen Your Body’s Overall Resilience and Internal Balance
If sickness was a result of only being exposed to pernicious influences, then everyone would get sick every time the temperature fluctuated dramatically. Clearly, this isn’t the case.
A lot of people who tested positive for COVID are asymptomatic, whereas others become seriously ill.
Why are some people healthier and more resilient?
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, it all comes down to yin and yang. Think of yin and yang like building blocks for health and vitality.
In a yin yang symbol, yin is the black shape with the white dot in it, and yang is white shape with the black dot. You can’t have one without the other, and there’s a little of each element within the other.
In the body, yin represents the physical structures and elements in the body such as blood, fluids, and organs. Yang is the energy that fuels the body’s processes. It’s the heat that keeps us warm. It’s the energy that moves blood through the vessels. It’s the fire that digests food.
When yin and yang are in harmony, the body is in balance.
The yin yang illustrates the dynamic balance between these two elements. Yin and yang are not static, they’re always flowing. As one grows, the other wanes. As one wanes, the other expands. The elements are mutually dependent on each other.
Fundamentally, Chinese Medicine is about keeping yin and yang strong, in balance, and flowing.
This makes the body resilient against pernicious influences.
So you may be wondering, “How do you strengthen the yin and yang elements of your body, and keep them flowing and in balance?”
Enter Chinese Reflexology…
Your feet contain reflexology points that connect to the body’s energy meridians. By massaging the Chinese Reflexology points on your feet, you can identify and clear energy imbalances to keep things flowing. Over time, with consistent massage, you can also strengthen the body’s energy—the yang element.
Because yang supports yin and yin supports yang, improving things at the qi (life force energy) level can lead to improvements at the physical level. That’s how you strengthen your body’s overall resilience and internal balance with Chinese Reflexology.
Mother Nature is so smart! She gave us a map on our feet to restore balance and harmony. Once you learn how to read and use this map, you have a way to support your body’s natural healing process.
Your body is smart too! It knows how to heal, but sometimes it needs a boost in the right direction, and that’s what Chinese Reflexology can provide.
To strengthen and harmonize the body with Chinese Reflexology, it’s necessary to take a systematic approach. Randomly pressing on points is like giving a pair of scissors to a 10-year-old and asking them to cut your hair. Yes, they can use the scissor. But no, they don’t know how to cut your hair to make it look the way you want.
The Chinese Medicine theory behind the Chinese Reflexology is a vital component of practicing. The point combinations on my website seem simple because I seamlessly weave Chinese Medicine theory into what I share.
I put a lot of thought into choosing which points to share. If you look closely through my website, you’ll notice that the point combinations are for simple acute issues, or I’m giving starting points (bad pun intended) for more chronic issues.
I do this because that’s how Chinese Medicine works. You can easily treat “superficial” things that are temporary. However, for chronic issues, I give starting points because that’s all I can give in a “short” website article. And you know my website articles aren’t actually that short. They’re actually quite long!
There are no shortcuts in Chinese Medicine. It takes years of imbalance for chronic health issues to develop, so it does take time and commitment to turn things around.
However, rather than prescribe a pill to hide a symptom, Chinese Medicine focuses on addressing the root cause of the imbalance from a yin and yang perspective.
The good news is that qi naturally wants to flow the right way. Your body naturally strives to be in balance, so it doesn’t take as long to restore balance and harmony as it did to get out of balance.
Learn How to Read Your Foot “Map” in Sole Mastery
If you’d like to learn how to use Chinese Reflexology to strengthen your body’s overall resilience and internal balance, I highly recommend my six-month Sole Mastery program.
In this in depth online program, you’ll learn the complete system of Traditional Chinese Reflexology—all 50+ points—and how to properly use a Chinese Reflexology stick.
When you address the root and practice Chinese Reflexology, your body gets stronger and more in balance over time. Building your resilience provides a safeguard against pernicious influences, and it’s also the key to vibrant health and longevity.
The 2020 session of Sole Mastery begins the week of November 9th. If you’re curious to learn more, I invite you join the Sole Mastery wait list.
You’ll be notified when registration opens and also get the opportunity for early bird registration savings!