By Cassandra Young
'But, why? I like the cold!' is the common response that I had towards mum and grandma's advice to my 14 year old self.
'No swimming or ice cream during your period!'
'Here are your slippers, don't walk around in bare feet.'
'Blow dry your hair before going outside missy.'
'It's windy and cold outside, take a scarf!'
Travelling to different parts of Asia as a young adult also had me scratching my head. Why was it so difficult to find a salad bar to fuel my 'healthy' eating habits? Everything was cooked and warm! Why was the table water served warm, at room temperature, or replaced with a steaming cup of tea? Meanwhile my menstrual cramps, bloating and achy joints were becoming worse, while mum and grandma were taunting me with their 'I told you so!' stance.
Chemistry 101 defines cold as the reduction of energy(heat), therefore cooling a liquid will slow the vibration of molecules moving in that space. Similarly, from a Chinese Medicine perspective, cold (especially extreme cold like ice) shocks the system and shuts down circulation due to it's compressive, constrictive and contracting nature. This prevents qi and blood from getting to where it needs to in the body - the joints, the muscles and the organs.
When circulation is affected, pain arises. There is a Chinese phrase from the Chinese medical text, Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperors Classic of Medicine), Tong Ze Bu Tong; Bu Tong Ze Tong (不通則痛， 通則不痛), which translates to, 'If there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is pain, there is a lack of free flow"
Cold that lodges in the bones, joints and muscles can lead to tightness or sharp pain. It may lead to painful clotted periods, a slower digestive fire and therefore metabolism, which causes bloating, loose stools or stomach aches, or an embryo that cannot thrive due to the lack of warmth and nourishment.
This is why cultivating a steady warmth (not too hot, not too cold) is such a key focus in our treatments and why we encourage you to make simple changes to avoid extreme cold.
Our advice is to skip the ice! And for our ice lovers out there, if you find that you are strongly craving icy food and drinks, this could indicate signs of imbalance, internal heat or dehydration that icy water itself may not sufficiently quench. Consider herbal medicine, dietary therapy and/or acupuncture as fantastic options to help balance things out.