Banishing Cold and Balancing Vata

I thought I’d share some tips from both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine to help get you thawed out and warmed up.

Over the summer, I had an encounter with Cold in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness that was quite educational, especially to me as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, because “Cold” is considered a primary “pathogenic factor” in that system. The first night we were there, even though it was early August, a very strong, unseasonable, very cold wind storm swept through our camp and I had the first experience in my life of being so cold that I couldn’t sleep -and it actually made me kind of scared! (In Ayurveda, fear is a prime symptom of excessive Vata dosha, comprised of the Air/Wind & Ether/Space elements. My recent experiences with intense Wind gusts while hiking high on Mount Hood and the Cold discussed here have shown me how Wind and Cold both invoke a very primal fear).

The next morning I was able to warm myself up by drinking warm ginger tea, walking around until the sun came up, and then lying in the sun in my black down coat. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more grateful than I was that morning to see the sun crest over the mountain, bringing the much needed Fire Element to all the Air, Ether, and Water and Earth Elements around me! Warmed up and armed with a few more ideas about how to generate Warmth, we ended up staying two more slightly less cold nights -which was fortunate, as only a couple weeks later the area was engulfed in flames (though it appears it may still be open to camping next summer).

I was also fortunate to escape the worst of this past week’s Mega Freeze. We got hit pretty hard by the snow and ice storm, but we had power at our Portland home for the duration and things never got as bad here as they did in my former home of Austin, Texas. Below you’ll find a handout that I made with some great Vata Balancing, Channel Warming tips.

Balancing Vata:

Warming and Moistening

Drink: Drink warm fluids until the weather warms up and/or until you feel warm again.

Drink: Ginger Cinnamon “tea”with Honey is a great combination for deeply warming the body. Use dry powdered or cut/sifted herb from your grocery store. Honey is warming according to Ayurveda.

Eat: Focus on warm, moist foods and simple recipes. Soups and stews that incorporate the flavors of Sour, Salty, and Pungent will be warming and healing. For example, a miso-based soup with ginger would be great! Lamb meat is considered warming in both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.Warm oatmeal with cinnamon, ginger, and honey would also be great. *Avoid excess chili pepper, as it is drying and cooling.

Abhyanga/Self Oil Massage with an herbalized Vata Balancing Oil or plain sesame oil (available from Banyan Botanicals). Apply the oil to the body and then take a warm bath or shower and continue to massage the oil into the skin. See this handout for details:

Click to access Elements_of_Ayurveda_Self-Massage_Guide.pdf

Exercise: Get simple, warming, rhythmic movement but stay warm while you do it especially if you’re going outside. Do not get sweaty and then get chilled! Keep your neck covered! A Vata balancing yoga routine would also be great -there are many on YouTube:

Banish Cold from the Channels

Moxa Sticks for Deep Warming: Get this important warming therapy from your Chinese Medicine practitioner and/or watch this or other YouTube videos for instructions on how to SAFELY do moxa on yourself at home. Please do not touch the stick to your skin and do not burn yourself! You can use the moxa stick over any area that feels very cold. Stomach 36 is a great point (see picture), and the sole of the foot at acupuncture point KD1 is also a spot that can help warm up the entire body.

You can buy Hua Tuo brand moxa sticks here:

I hope I’ve given you a couple easy ways to start to you warm yourself up and thaw yourself out after this intense encounter with Cold many of us have had. I want to stress that it is really important to address deep Cold in our bodies, as Chinese Medicine theory explains that Cold can become lodged in the body, especially within the joints, and cause a range of issues, especially pain, over time.

If you feel extremely cold, these home remedies don’t help move the dial,and/or you start having flareups of chronic issues (esp musculoskeletal pain or menstrual pain) or start having new issues arise, I strongly recommend that you consult with a Chinese Medicine practitioner who can help you get that Cold moving out of your body!

If you don’t feel warmer soon, please connect with your Chinese Medicine practitioner! They have lots of tools to help get that cold moving out of your body for good!

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