COLD – The Antithesis of Chinese Medicine

Why is COLD so bad, and why do we ask – “Did you ice your shoulder when you injured it?”

COLD – yes, we emphasize it in capital letters, because it signifies all bodily responses involving contraction and slowing or stopping the flow, encompassing all that the phenomenon of COLD entails.

In Chinese Medicine when we have an injury by COLD, our job is to help the body expel the COLD back out of the body.

The body is already doing that by itself when an injury occurs. The area becomes hot and red and inflamed. (Calor = heat, dolor = pain, rubor = redness, and tumor = swelling. These are the four classical signs of inflammation. And I mean Greek/Roman Classical here as these symptoms were described in one of the first-ever encyclopedias in the 1st century) This is the body bringing heat to the area to dilate the blood vessels to bring all the resources that are required for tissue repair. Even pain is actually a bunch of chemicals calling out for help.

Putting ice on the body could be viewed as a direct insult to the innate intelligence of the workings of the body. It’s like saying: “Nah, you’re doing it all wrong, it’s not meant to be hot, it’s supposed to be cold!”

Often times the reason we even reach for the ice or bag of frozen peas – besides it being pretty ingrained into us since Gabe Mirkin first coined the term RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) in 1978 – is that we have pain. I think knowing that the pain is going hand in hand with all the other processes of inflammation already helps. The pain being a sign that the body is responding to the injury. The body in its wisdom is telling you loud and clear to back-the-f off.

So what can you do when the pain is just getting too much? Have you tried applying heat? To support the body in what it is already doing? You could use a wheat bag, a hot water bottle, heat patches both herbal or ones that generate heat, herbal liniments, products such as Antiflamme and Deep-Heat. At the Acupuncture Sanctuary, Auckland, we carry our own liniment rub based on a Shaolin Temple formula used for martial arts training for injury from strikes.

I am going to share my favorite home remedy that is safe to apply, especially for children. The Hard-Boiled Egg Remedy.

Place your egg in a saucepan of water – bring to the boil and simmer for 7-10 mins. Run the egg under cold running water, just long enough to be able to hold the egg comfortably enough so you can peel it. Now with your hot egg, gentle press (or just tap if it’s too hot, try it on the back of your hand first to test the temperature) to the site of injury. This is so good for children that have owies. If it’s way too hot you can wrap the egg in a kitchen towel or handkerchief. But once that scorching heat ebbs off you can gently roll the egg over the site of injury and around it. It is said this method prevents bruising. Especially in little ones that have gone and banged their wee foreheads.

The next best thing to do is to book in for an Acupuncture session. Depending on how far along your injury is – we would encourage blood to move to the site of injury, or if it’s already been a while we would use techniques that move the stagnant blood that has accumulated and send fresh QI in to help it and the surrounding tissue feel more comfortable. We would do this with a combination of needling, Tui-Na, Gua-Sha, and Moxibustion. Always tailored and constantly working to how you and your body are responding to the treatment.