Even though we live in Hawaii, we still experience winter weather and the inevitable colds and flus that come along with it. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, one of the most important influencing factors on our health from weather is ~ WIND.
Wind is called the “Big Brothers of all Evils”. They say that many environmental factors can exist, but it is wind that brings them into the body. For example, it can be a dry and dusty day, but if it is windy we can get that dust in our eyes – causing them to be irritated and itchy. It is the same for wind in the winter, except instead of dust, it can bring cold into our bodies.
Swimming with the kids at the beach is a perfect time for us to get exposure to wind and cold. Even though the water can still feel pretty warm, once we get out the tradewinds can chill us immediately. Even playing up at Giggle Hill Park the cold wind on that hill can catch us unprepared. Without a sweater or long-sleeve shirt for the kids, it can be easy to get cold. One of the first signs we will notice is a clear runny nose, telling us our kids need to get out of the weather and bundle up.
Our body is constantly trying to keep ‘homeostasis’ or balance at all times. It is continually and meticulously maintaining the right blood flow, hormone balance and the right temperature. When the body suddenly gets chilled – like after a swim at the beach – our body has to work extra hard to warm up, while also maintaining all the other body’s functions. Therefore, what happens at this time is that less of the body’s resources go to maintaining the immune system. It’s during this time that all those germs on the shopping cart and school door handle get a free pass and a chance to take over.
Now, sometimes we get sick anyways, without exposure to cold, and yes, that happens too. But, what you will find through extra care given to protecting our kids from wind and cold, is that we can reduce the experience and severity of sicknesses over an entire winter.
We can have a little runny nose for just a few days, that does not turn into a terrible cough. In Chinese medicine, we say that the cold and wind enters through the head resulting in a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and ear infection. As the infection gets stronger it travels further into the body and into the lungs, developing into a cough. When we stop the cold at the very beginning or keep it from happening at all, we can help protect our kids from colds and coughs.
Physical things we can do to help our kids keep a strong immune system include avoiding the beach and surf on really windy days and always keeping that extra layer of warm up clothes in the car.
On regular days we can take off wet suits and put on dry clothes with an extra hoody until they feel warm. If we notice a clear runny nose starting, we can get them off the beach or playground and warm them up with extra clothes and socks, even a hat or scarf.
If they really get cold, I highly recommend a hot bath when you get home and using a hair dryer, even for short hair, to keep them from getting a cold head afterwards.
In the winter, especially Upcountry, we can also remember hot soup on the colder days and even warm tea, like peppermint with a little honey, will help keep them warm inside!
And if they do come down with a cold or the flu rest, fluids, nutritious food, and warmth is recommended. I also have witnessed success with a line of pediatric Chinese Herbal medicine (in liquid form), which works great towards getting a speedy recovery.
Enjoy the colder weather and I hope you have a happy and healthy 2017.