Climate change and TCM

Whether climate change is an acute crisis brought about through human behavior or an as yet little understood natural cycle there will be implications for our health, even the fear of  it can have an effect. The prospect of tropical diseases becoming  active in previously sub-tropical environments is one of the more obvious possibilities not only for people but for plants and animals too, whatever effects our agriculture impacts on us . If we were to properly study how our attempts to control our own environments impacted on our health we may be surprised, air conditioning is a good case in point. Even though air conditioning has been with us for decades now we still have not come up with a system that can be kept germ free past the twenty year mark, keeping hospital infection rates down is difficult for this reason alone. How ironic it was when CFC’s in our refrigerators and airconditioners were found to be effecting our ozone layer.

Long distance air travel often exposes us to sudden climatic change too, perhaps some of what we experience as jet lag may be a bit of climate shock effecting the body in a weakened state from body clock interruption. Climatisation is thought to usually take a healthy adult about two weeks when they travel to a place with a different climate to home. When a person  lives in a cold climate they acquire better immunity (all other things being equal), but lose their extra natural resistance after several weeks in a warmer climate.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the last two weeks of the current season and first two weeks of the next is called “doyo”, doyo is considered to be like a lunar year (one callender month) of transition from one season to the next. Many herbal, acupuncture and even chi gong practices are oriented to not only observe the current season but the next also, in all five seasons- summer, autumn, winter, spring and doyo* (in four parts).

There are no doubt other traditional medicine practices around the globe that innovatively and effectively deal with severe weather, in Russia for instance kindergarten children are marched bare foot in circles through tubs of icy water just  before winter hits and few children seem to get colds later on.

Maybe too many of us urban dwellers just don’t go outside enough anymore, we now know that not everybody gets enough vitamin D from sunlight so in a sense climate induced disease (and the fear of it) is already with us but we are only starting to notice it. Some urban and city environments because of the orientation of their streets and buildings create some very unpleasant wind tunnel effects and not much sunlight falls to the ground in high rise areas in winter time, making them fashionable climate ghettoes.

I have never had a client ask me to tune them up for the next season with acupuncture but I treat plenty whose problems are in some way connected to climatic factors, even the wind entering your car window on a still day creates a very localised wind that your body can react to, weather is not what it used to be for many reasons.

Leave a Reply