11 Sep Boost Your Health In Autumn, Winter & Spring
The where, why and how to boost your health
It is important to boost your health during Autumn, Winter and Spring. Due to the earth’s tilt position in relation to the Sun (in each of those seasons), we experience certain types of weather from moderate to cold. In Winter, the weather is usually cold. During Spring and Autumn we usually have weather that may fluctuate from warm to cold in short spaces of time, which the body finds challenging to adapt to. It’s in these 3 seasons of the year that we need to be versatile with layering of clothing to protect certain aspects of our body that are susceptible to cold temperatures, and movements of wind and air (that affect temperature on the surface of the skin). This can have very important effects on our general health, and our musculoskeletal health.
Please read below for some basic but powerful tips on how to boost your health through the cooler seasons of the year:
Areas to safeguard to boost your health from wind according to Chinese medicine:
During Autumn, Winter and Spring, we commonly see muscular neck or upper back complaints, or people coming down with a cold or flu easily, which usually happens soon after being out in the cold or exposed to cold winds. We see the same happen with people who have been sleeping in a draft (with a door or window left open allowing cool wind to move across them for extended periods of time); or possibly while at work, or on the train under air conditioning, or even if there are cool movements of air whilst dining at a restaurant.
Cold air movements chill muscles, affecting circulation in the muscles, leading to aches and pains. Also, according to some immunologists (such as Japan’s renowned Immunologist, Dr Toru Abo, M.D., Ph.D.), a reduction in the body’s core temperature reduces one’s humoral immune response, leaving one more susceptible to colds and flu (if one’s immunity is reduced, they will be more susceptible to transmissible viruses). This is one of the reasons the body creates a fever when we have a virus- to increase the immune response to deal with a virus more effectively.
Whatever the case, as the Chinese Medicine saying goes:
“Wind is the spearhead of 100 diseases”
Check out our diagram to learn about the main zones to protect and keep warm with warm clothing or a scarf to keep healthy in cooler weather. It’s basically all about the neck and upper back area as the most susceptible, however the whole back can be susceptible to cold/wind in general.
How to protect the above areas of the body from wind:
The Scarf Spectrum
In the diagram on the left, we saw which areas to protect, and now we are learning how to protect those areas. With the humble (or not so humble) scarf!
Scarves are not just a fashion item, but a highly functional and ancient item of clothing designed to protect the neck, the back of the head, and the base of the neck, to assist in keeping us warm, to avoid getting sick (humoral immunity can drop with reduced core temps), and to avoid getting muscular issues of the neck. To protect your health from the Cold and Wind in Chinese medicine is summed up in the saying (which we learned above): “Wind is the spearhead of 100 diseases”
In the Han Dynasty, there was also a famous book written by a legendary doctor (Zhang Zhong Jing), named the “Treatise on Damage Caused By Cold.” So we really see how important it is to protect your health and the body from cold and boost your overall wellness!
As the weather changes with the seasons, particularly from Autumn, to Winter to Spring, we need different types of scarves depending on the temperature.
Check out our Scarf Spectrum Pic below, and the temperature guide below for a few ideas on what type of scarf to wear, and when:
- 18-22 Degrees Celsius and Above (and if it’s warm but windy)- Silk/cotton scarf (Thin)
- 12-18 Degrees Celsius- Cashmere or Wool/Cashmere Blend (Thin to moderate)
- 7-12 Degrees Celsius- Wool (Moderate to thick)
- Below 0 and 0-7 Degrees Celsius- (Thick Wool or Alpaca)
Other important points + layering:
This is a general guide to help you, but you must experiment with what works for you most effectively. In general, depending on your body type, you will have to experiment with layering of clothing on the body, which may involve thermal under layers from cotton, linen or wool (natural fibres are always best – we will write about that in a separate article another time), and other layers on top, such as shirts, sweaters and overcoats. Learning to apply the right combination of layers, and having them available based on the day that is ahead can be very helpful. As mentioned, on a day that goes from cold to warm to cold, we have to have versatile items of clothing that we can balance, and add or remove based on the temperature outside.
An example of an Autumn Day in Sydney, with a significant temperature difference from morning, to midday to evening can be seen below, which is from Mid April 2021. It can be seen that the morning is cool, the midday is hot, and the evening is cool.
This would require layers in the morning, removing layers in the daytime, and re-applying layers in the evening. If we go out for the whole day (work or social or sporting occasions), we would need to leave home in the morning with the right combinations of clothing to protect our health. By using an app such as a weather app on your smart phone, you can plan your “clothing self-defence” strategy for the day, so you can traverse the day without causing any harm to your health, and generally feeling comfortable throughout the day.
An important point we have to take into our daily “clothing self-defence strategy”: Cold home or work environments, or those with wind and air movements:
If we are inside, and if that inside environment is warm, then we are usually in a position of comfort, and less prone to cold. However if your workplace or home is prone to cold movements of air or air conditioning- we need to be aware of what layers to put on to boost your health. Many work places these days have incorrectly balanced air-conditioning that cause many issues for people. This can be the same at home.
If you have a cold workplace or home environment, it’s essential to wear layers of clothing appropriate to the situation, and also positioning yourself out of cold air movements or breezes if you are going to be stationary in a position for a long period of time. Examples would be working at a computer for extended hours with a door open letting a breeze in that moves across your back, or watching a movie while cold air conditioning blows onto you, or even sleeping with the window open on a cold evening, or having a fan blowing on you at night time. Wearing the right clothing and altering your position can make a huge difference, but if it’s possible to mitigate the situation by stopping the cold or wind by turning off an air conditioner, or closing a door or window, then go for that option!
Another important point we have to consider in our daily health self defence strategy is if we are exercising, and hot and sweaty, after we finish our workouts or activity, we must do our best to dry off and cover ourselves with something warm to avoid getting chilled for the same reasons mentioned in this article.
Please try some of these strategies, and let me know how it goes! Many have dramatically reduced total annual sick days and musculoskeletal complaints for the year just by following the simple advice in this article!
However, deeper levels of cold actually affect other important processes in the body such as blood circulation.
Those who have suffered from long-term cold or windy environments can get issues with blood circulation in the 4 limbs (cold hands and feet). Another area that many are unaware of that is easily affected by cold is the circulation of blood in the female reproductive organs, which can lead to painful or difficult menstruation. Of course there are many other possible causes for this, but this is one of the many possibilities. We can look at making changes to these conditions for you with the right application of cupping and Chinese herbs. Make sure to get in touch with us if you think you need help.
So what do I do if I managed to get cold or was in the wind too long, or just went for a cold but refreshing swim, and now I have an area on my neck or back which is sore, or I am feeling cold and can’t get warm?
The image on the left shows the most common areas on the body for pain or discomfort caused by Cold/Wind.
After such a situation occurs, it’s our usual recommendation to have a hot shower, particularly focusing on having the hot water streamed for a reasonable amount of time on the area that feels sore, or cold on your body. This is usually the neck, shoulders, upper back, or the whole back. If you have a bathtub, then a 20-minute soak with hot water usually sorts this situation out very well (and more effectively than a shower, as the heat radiating through the muscle and fascia when in the bathtub seems to reestablish the circulation more effectively in these affected areas).
In some cases, none of the above can help, as it’s a bit more severe. In these cases we recommend you come into the practice for a Cupping session and some thermal therapy performed on your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, or other areas where the pain/cold may be present, so we can reverse the situation quickly. It will take between 1-3 sessions for most situations, and occasionally more if the situation is severe. Look out for another article on cupping that we will write soon!
Peter is available for Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine/Cupping appointments every week on Wednesdays through to Saturdays.
If you would like to make a booking, please book online
Those interested in easy-to-apply strategies for boosting the immune system, please check out these 3 previous blog articles: