Treating winter illness in the summer is a phase in China called “Dong Bing Xia Zhi”. Winter illness means the illnesses that often happen or get aggravated during the winter season like asthma, chronic bronchitis, arthritis, chronic diarrhea etc. Treating these chronic illnesses in the summer could get us ahead of the winter illnesses. It is practiced in the Chinese medicine hospitals in China as well as the daily lives of the Chinese.
So why is summer the best time to treat the winter illness? The energy flow changes in the human body in the different seasons. In the summer the energy or in China we say the Yang energy is at its peak whereas in the winter the Yang energy is at its minimum. Part of the Yang energy in the winter is taken to keep us warm. The body is lacking sufficient energy to fight against the pathogens. For instance the arthritis that caused by the cold and damp, asthma which the root cause is Yang energy deficiency, the patients with these conditions have the background of Yang energy deficiency. In the winter when it is cold outside the body’s Yang energy is low and it is not able to expel the cold and damp out of the body. Or the external cold and damp invade the body again which caused the aggravation of the chronic conditions like chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic diarrhea, arthritis etc.
Normally the body could heal itself or with the aid of the medicine go back to the normal state after illness. However For people whose energy is already low or under chronic conditions, the cold penetrates deep in the body. With the medicine it could temporarily control the symptoms. It is difficult to completely eliminate the pathogen deeply rooted in the body. In the summer when the Yang energy is at the peak, the body is in a much better state to expel the old pantheons like the cold/damp. For example Hay Fever, the sneezing and running nose are viewed as a mechanism of the body to expel cold and damp in the body when the Yang energy is stronger in the spring and the summer.
So what are the common methods used to treat winter illness in the summer? In one sentence, any methods that bring up the Yang energy. The common ones are:
San Fu Tie. San Fu is a period of time in the late summer which the temperature is the highest in a year. San Fu this year is from July 12th to August 20th. In the San Fu time the Yang energy reaches the peak. San Fu Tie is a paste made from herbal mixture. It is then stuck to the skin where specific acupuncture points are to improve the respiratory system. It is proved to be helpful for asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Moxibustion. Moxibustion is as commonly practiced in China as Acupuncture. It involves burning moxa, a cone or stick made of ground mugwort leaves, on or near the body’s meridians and acupuncture points. Moxibustion is very effective in bringing up the body’s Yang energy and expel the dampness from the body. This is my favorite method. Since the arrive of San Fu I have been using moxibustion once every week.
Chinese herbs. You can also go to your local Chinese medicine practitioner and ask them to prescribe herbs for your condition.
Ginger. Ginger is a warming herb used in Chinese herbal medicine. There is a saying in China: “Eat Daikon in the winter and ginger in the summer you will not need a doctor.” Ginger and Chinese dates are the best combination. You could see this combination in many Chinese herbal formulas in harmonizing the body’s Yin and Yang energy. The ginger and Chinese dates tea can be used all through the San Fu. It is also very helpful for women who are suffering from period pain.
Stay away from cold food and iced drinks. I have noticed fruits aggravate my symptoms of the hay fever. In the summer for people with Yang energy deficiency it is advisable to stay away from excessive fruits/salad, ice creams and iced drinks.
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