Chinese Traditional medicine implicates that arthritis is caused by element imbalance- normally too much of ‘damp’ and ‘wind’ in the body resulting in blockages on the chi channel. As one ages and the immune system is not as strong and robust as it used to be, these chronic blockages will result in pain.
If you currently practice such habits, you may need to prepare yourself for some pain in your older years. I’ve compiled the following from advice given from traditional practitioners and by asking many arthritis sufferers themselves:
1. Bathing after the sun sets and constantly wash hair at night.
It is understandable that many people who are working can only bathe at night after getting home from office. But it will help if you understand that long term implication of this….
Traditional Chinese sinsehs totally frown upon this. When the sun sets, the internal temperature of the body cools down. And when you bathe or wash your hair, the effect becomes too cooling for your body, encouraging trapped ‘wind’ and dampness. During the olden days, when people had no choice but bathe at night, they will supplement it by taking more ‘heaty’ food like food rich in ginger or spice cooked with meat.
2. Bathing when the body had not cool down from intense physical activities.
Example like bathing in the gym right after workout– sometimes late at night. If you observe your arms, there are little tiny red dots after intensive exercise- because the pores had opened up due to sweating. One should rest for about at least 1/2 hour to give time to the pores to close up before bathing. Now imagine that you run a shower (even hot shower) on the opened pores. Water get in and with it, wind can get in too. Years down the line, arthritis is developed. That, coupled with the effect below….
You may be also tempted to jump straight into the shower after coming back from the hot sun. When you are under hot sun, the outer skin of your body is very hot from the sun’s rays. Have you ever tried to heat up an empty kettle under the fire, then take the kettle and run water on it. What happens? Smoke and sound effects come out, rite? Even if you run hot water on it, the effect is still the same.
A mini version of that happens to your body when it is very hot (from physical activity or the sun) and suddenly received a shock from running water. Once a while it is acceptable but in the long term, the consistent temperature shock of your body will do it no good.
3. For ladies: not following a proper confinement after giving birth
I wrote a separate post as I realized that there is a lot of things that the Western world is not aware of. Following a proper confinement (taboo practice after giving birth) is important as done properly and strictly, it will rebuilt a woman’s health. Not done properly, she will ‘have to carry the medicine pot with her for the rest of her olden life’ as an old saying goes.
4. Always drink cold or refrigerated water/drinks
Nowadays, many holistic gurus in the West also share this advise. Our body maintains a constant 98.6 F or 37 C. If you drink ice water or water from the cooler that is lower than 10 C, you are shocking your system via the ‘water kettle’ effect explained on point # 2 above. Any intake of cold water gives a ‘yin’ effect that will be brought via your circulation system to around your body. Especially if you are sedentary and not physically active, these stagnant energy tends to be ‘parked’ at certain blocked areas- resulting in arthritic pain in the later years.
It is worse if you have the habit of taking iced drinks or a cup of cold water with your meals. In order to digest food, our body required an optimum temperature for the enzymes to function and break down our food. When you drink cold water with your food, fermentation process takes place and food digestion process becomes sluggish as your body struggles to bring back the temperature to optimum levels. In fact, you are advised to only take little sips of water- not to drink a lot of water- even warm ones with your meals so that your body can digest food at optimum levels.
If you do not work with your body on this, undigested food will clog up the pores of your stomach linings and intestines. If coupled with the bad habits of many people who do not have adequate intake of fiber, these food actually rot, causing ulceration, stomach pain and wind– eventually this may lead to digestive cancers.
5. Past injury that is not completely treated.
Even conventional medicine recognizes that arthritis had showed up in places of old injuries. For instance, an athlete who had suffered a dislocated shoulder or a sprained ankle may develop arthritis right at the problem spot, even though it had been treated years earlier. Explanation by traditional medication is because the ‘chi’ imbalance had resulted from an injury- even though outwardly the condition is treated, internal balance is not restored. Balance can be restored by medicine wraps or acupuncture to ensure there is no blockage due to the injury.
6. A nature that is too uptight, unforgiving or inflexible
This is in line with mind-body medicine that studies the relationship between our inner world and outer physical manifestation of our inner beliefs and unexpressed emotions. Often, the more uptight, inflexible, tensed or unforgiving a person is, the more painful the arthritis is. One may be surprised to learn that by just learning to lighten up, loosen up and forgive past emotional hurts and traumas, one may find a lot of relief to the pain. It is often not easy because as we age, it is very difficult to correct our values and beliefs. It is hard for us to get older folks and even our parents to change their ways.
Perhaps it helps if we learn to set a better example- if it is our parents who are suffering the pain, then as children, we do not give them too many cause of worry and conflict. We can learn to relax and when they see improvements in us, they may be more curious to learn as well.
The above are something that I shared based on observations, gut feeling and learning from traditional practitioners. Generally, when I read about any method in a book, I will ask around or observe to see if the claims are true.
Reducing physical pain start with lifestyle changes. You will be surprised by the effect of relaxing and loosening up, as well as stop taking cold/ice water/drinks, you will be able to find some relief. And learning to loosen up with reduce the pain medication that you have to take. At the same time, be conscious of any food that you take that you notice may give you pain afterwards- it is different for everyone.