It’s back to school time! Despite the fact that that does not at all apply to me, or perhaps even to you, there’s something about the weeks after Labor Day that feel like a turning point in the year. As much as I enjoy the carefree summer and weekends at the beach and pool, I’m already dreaming of cozy sweaters and using spices like ginger and cinnamon more often.
Why do we associate these warmer herbs with cooler weather? Because we don’t have the heat of summer to help us sweat. Sweating is one of the amazing things your body does. It regulates your temperature, metabolizes fluids and releases toxins in the body. It is an integral function of our immune system. When this process is halted, we retain fluids within tissues, and sometimes these fluids contain the bacteria which cause our common colds or other illnesses. This is part of what I’m referring to if you’ve heard me say that you have an accumulation of dampness. Without sweating, it’s more difficult to regulate temperature on your own. We have come to rely on air conditioning in the summer, we are not sweating as much as we used to. Therefore, that dampness is retained in your body and gets carried into fall where we start to see sniffles, short colds, and eventually bigger illnesses such as flu in the winter.
Additionally, in this city in the summer, we get really hot on the street or in a subway station, and with those open pores and sweat on your skin, walk into a very cold subway car or supermarket, cold gets in and those pores close up quickly. Another path to illness.
I am sure you’ve also noticed that cultures from hot, humid climates use a lot of warm and hot spices in their cuisine. This is because in those humid climates, mold, bacteria and viruses are rampant and like warm, moist places to live. The spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, chilis etc both kill those invaders in your digestive system but most importantly, make you sweat them out, along with the biofilm that your body creates to contain them and keep them isolated from your system. It is the reason they can live in those climates without being sick all the time.
Once they happen, the best way to get rid of a common cold, is to drink a ginger tea, or a broth with scallions and ginger at the very first signs of a cold, bundle up and let yourself get a good sweat going, then a good nights sleep, and you will have avoided 3-5 days of unpleasantness.
So, what are you meant to do with this information? I’m certainly not advocating getting rid of your air conditioners (I’m keeping mine!) just try to bring some sweating into your daily life in these next few weeks. Exercise, saunas, spicy food (nothing crazy – ginger, cumin, cinnamon etc ) are all warming and can produce a bit of a sweat. This is an important way to reduce the likelihood of getting sick this Fall into Winter. Working up enough of a sweat should be right up there with heart rate as a marker of a successful workout.
Coming in for your seasonal maintenance appointment is a great way to check in with your level of dampness and make a plan to keep you healthy all year.
Also – I’m excited to let you know that my colleague, Stacey Isaacs' cookbook, THE CHINESE MEDICINE COOKBOOK is out in the world and available in my office or on Amazon! Stop by to peruse it and bring it home with you. It is a wonderful introduction to how to eat with the seasons and use food to stay healthy.
You fill find a lot of info about the spices I talk about and how to incorporate them into easy to make, healthy and really delicious meals. Stay tuned for a video chat that we're cooking up (pun intended) together!
Lastly, On SUNDAY SEPT 22 Look for my booth at the 92nd St Y Street Fest again this year. I will be on Lexington at 89th Street on their "Wellness Way".
Stop by and say hi!!
As always, you can follow me on social media at the following: on Instagram I am ab_acupuncture_nyc My Facebook page is AB Acupuncture – Annalisa Brown, L.Ac as well as Twitter (@ABacuNYC) or LinkedIn under my name. Please like/follow my pages if you are on social media so I can spread the word locally.