Ice bath and cold water are detrimental for health (joint pain in old age)

Last Updated on June 4, 2024

From the perspective of Chinese healing as well as in other ancient tradition such as Ayurveda, ice baths and cold water intake are DETRIMENTAL for health. While research may indicate that there are scientific benefits of these practices, there is no research that had looked into what happened to these people decades down the line when they got old.

Yes, you would feel your body literally waking up when you immerse yourself in ice bath or drink iced water first thing in the morning. But please listen to your body…. is it a good reaction, or did you just send your body to a shocked response?

When we take ice baths or drink iced/cold water/ drinks, it creates a shock to our system. The shock may be what we feel like alertness but it is actually damaging to our health in the long run. We know that our body function needs to run within optimum body temperature. When the temperature goes way down, either through exposure to extreme cold temperature (ie iced baths) or drinking iced water after an intense workout, it is like pouring water on an overheated engine. We are aware of the reaction it triggers.

One would not feel the effects when one is young. However as one grow older, unbearable joint pains and aches would start to set in. From perspective of Chinese healing, cold often result in dampness and wind trapped deep inside the body, within the bones.  It is very hard to heal once it goes deep. And one fine day, one would start to wake up with aches which gets unbearably worse and pain medications would be ineffective in treating the pain.

Another danger could be surceptible to falls and injuries. While one may attribute fractures and falls to wear and tear, it could be attributed to buildup of dampness and wind within the body…. the body becomes a ticking time bomb and when the fall happens, the whole structure falls apart.

It has been baffling that physically active and healthy people, those who run marathons and eat healthily would get diseases like ALS, auto immune and heart issues. I watched a video of a creator who is currently suffering from heart failure and is on a waiting list for a heart transplant. As she shared her story in the video, she was drinking an iced drink (I could hear the sound of ice when she picked up the drink). Ice drinks or any cold drinks are totally dangerous to such condition. Her heart is already enlarged and working very hard to maintain the blood flow….. the body temperature that is brought down by iced drinks would strain the heart even further.

If we see healthy Chinese old folks, like in China and Japan, they do not consume cold drinks. Yes, they may bathe in cold water especially if they cannot afford heated water. But they always always bathe before sun down. They do not bathe at night even with warm water. They also worked very hard in fields or market…. and they never cool down with an iced drinks. Even if these drinks are available.

When I come to Thailand, I noticed that Thai people love to take cold and iced drinks as the weather here can be really crazy hot. Usually, they have no problems sitting on the floor with a sideway pose or with their legs crossed when younger. But when old age catches up, then the problem would start.

There was a few middle aged ladies who seldom took any iced drinks when they were younger. But then, because ice drinks became easily accessible, they started to consume these drinks as they could readily grab it from the fridge after feeling very very hot after doing work on a hot day.

At first, no issues within few months, for one even for the span of few years.

Then, one of them suddenly start to suffer unbearable pain in her ankle and hip after more than a year of consistently consuming iced water. Previously she never had the issue. And the few others also started to suffer from joint pains after taking icy drinks for a few months. When previously they could sit at the floor for hours, they now have pains when sitting on the floor.

Whereas, I know of Chinese older ladies who are particular….. they do not take cold drinks nor shower after dark. No matter how hot the day is, or how much they sweat, they do not give in to the tempation of a cold iced drink even though others around them are taking iced drinks to cool down. When I asked them, they say that they don’t take ice drinks because it is bad for the joints and digestive system.  Even at their old age, they move around easily without much body aches and pains…. and have no problems sitting on the floor for long periods of time.

Why I wish to write this article is because I myself know what it is like now to have joint pains. I love iced drinks and when I was younger, I did try to stay away from them but occassionally I would get hooked. And once I got hooked, it would come into a bad habit that becomes hard to break….. for example I would have an iced drink with my lunch. I could only break the habit when I started noticing I had joint pains and it become increasingly bad. And after I quit the habit, my pain would reduced tremendously. For a while things would be okay till the cycle repeats itself again….

So now, I live with mild discomfort and pain which would flare up if I started to consistently consume iced drinks. When I was younger, my body was more resillient and the symptoms do not flare up so easily. I now realize what the older folks used to advice me last time…. that the effects would not be felt when young but once we get older, it will all flare up at once. These kind of pain is very difficult to cure.

Fortunately, my digestive system is still all right because for decades I would always follow the older tradition of drinking a cup of warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Through long time of doing this, I do not suffer from issue of reflux or indigestion.


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