Saturday, October 11, 2014

External Pathogenic Factors: Understanding Illness via Traditional Chinese Medicine.

By : Mary Oleksowicz , MSTOM , L.Ac

As we enter the fall and winter months, it is inevitable that the cold and flu season will begin. This week, we will review the concepts of external pathogenic factors and their impact upon our health. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), what many of us would consider a “cold” may be consider a pathogenic invasion of cold. Grandma’s traditional advice that cold weather can make you ill is a reality from a TCM perspective. 

Initial signs and symptoms of a “wind-cold “ invasion could include  a runny nose, headache, achy muscles  especially those at the back of the neck . Chronic  invasions of wind-cold may indicate a deficiency or weakness in our defensive energy , wei qi ( way chi). Wei Qi can be equated to the idea of immunity in Western physiology.  By strengthening our wei qi and protecting ourselves from physical cold , we can reduce the number of infections we experience each year. One of the easiest ways to reduce wind-cold invasion is through the use of a scarf. A scarf around the neck protects our “windgates’, points of weakness on the body that can allow cold and illness to invade. Foods that strengthen our immune system or wei qi are advised as well. These immune strengthening foods include , sweet potatoes, pears and foods that are  pungent . Pungent or aromatic foods include ginger, garlic and chili peppers. 
Daily use of ginger tea  and regular consumption of stews and soups that incorporate pungent herbs with strengthening root vegetables  can help prepare our bodies for the health challenges of winter . Next time, we will review the use of  other traditional methods for dealing with pathogenic invasion .


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