Steps to address sensitivity to cold and low body temperature
Quite a few people suffer from their bodies feeling cold not just during the cold times of the year but all year round. Women in particular seem to be affected by those symptoms. It is interesting to note that Japanese Kampo medicine views this “sensitivity to cold” as a possible precursor to disease, or a sign of future illness. According to Kampo medicine, if the body’s coldness is neglected, it may lead to poor blood flow, which has negative effects on beauty too, such as a decline in metabolism and skin troubles.
In Japan, based on this notion from Kampo medicine, a variety of treatments to fight sensitivity to cold have emerged. Here, we’ll introduce some Oriental wisdom that is especially helpful in addressing sensitivity to cold, such as massage and acupressure point techniques that promote blood flow.
Kampō medicine is a further development of Chinese Herbal Medicine, and uses its own unique system of diagnosis and therapy centered on herbal medicine.
How can sensitivity to cold affect your skin?
When our bodies feel cold, they concentrate blood in the body’s core and circulate it there, ensuring that the blood’s temperature does not drop. As a result, blood circulation decreases in the toes and fingers, as well as in the skin on the surface of the body, and the areas with decreased circulation begin to feel cold. Sensitivity to cold can be seen as a condition in which that process has become a habit.
Simply put, in people who are sensitive to cold, the circulation of blood transporting nutrients to the skin deteriorates, and the resulting lack of nutrients makes them more susceptible to skin troubles such as dryness, dullness, and weakening.
Self-massage is effective against coldness!
Massage is the most effective way to improve poor blood flow caused by coldness, as it improves the circulation of blood and lymph. It’s best to apply massage lotion or cream before massaging, in order to help the fingers slide more smoothly across the skin.
First, cup the entire face in the palms of your hands, and then massage in a spiral motion from the center of the forehead out toward the temples. Be gentle around the eyes. On the bridge of the nose, move the fingers up and down methodically. For the area around the mouth, stroke from the center of the lips outward, lifting the corners of the mouth as you go. For the cheeks, massage from the chin toward the temples using spiral motions. Finally, cup the face in both hands again, and while sliding the hands outward, gently apply pressure with the fingertips to the parotid gland under the ears, where a lot of blood vessels and lymph glands pass through, and from there simply rub downward toward the neck and chest to complete the massage.
A detailed explanation on Japanese self facial-massage is here
Relieve coldness with simple acupressure techniques
Stimulating the acupressure points is an effective way to enhance blood flow – and an easy and convenient method of treatment. Acupressure points in Far Eastern medicine involve stimulating certain areas on the surface of the body using acupressure, acupuncture, or moxibustion in order to improve health or alleviate a host of symptoms.
The parts that are effective against coldness are concentrated in the area around the ankles and the soles of the feet. When stimulating the acupressure points, press for 3-5 seconds, release, and repeat 3 to 10 times. Take care not to press so hard that it hurts, and do not continue pressing too long and trigger excessive stimulation. Search for points where it still feels comfortable when you press.
Other recommendations include warming the face with a steam towel or doing a “palm mask” – slowly warming the face with the palms of your hands after your skin care regimen. Also, it is difficult to fall asleep when your body is cold, so in Japan, it is considered good to take a bath about an hour before going to bed. Soaking in the bathtub and warming the body not only improves blood flow, but it also relieves tension in the muscles, making it helpful for alleviating stress, too.
About Japanese bathing traditions
Small tweaks to diet and exercise help to keep the body warm
In Far Eastern medicine, it is said that vegetables in their raw state cool the body with their moisture content. People who suffer from sensitivity to cold should make proactive efforts to eat hot meals. Soup, pot dishes, stews, and the like are recommended. In terms of nutrients, Vitamin E is useful, as it has the effect of promoting blood flow. It is found in large quantities in such foods as almonds, pumpkin, and spinach. Also, spices such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon and pepper act to warm the body, so try to incorporate these foods skillfully.
To relieve coldness, exercises such as walking or simple resistance training and stretching are important. Even without performing specific exercises, you can be mindful about using your muscles in everyday actions, such as using exaggerated movements when reaching for something that’s far away or taking big steps and swinging your arms when walking, for example.
- A wide variety of factors are believed to cause sensitivity to cold. It often stems from lifestyle habits such as a lack of exercise or lack of sleep, but anemia, hypothyroidism, or Raynaud's phenomenon are also possibilities, so if your condition doesn’t improve even after modifying your lifestyle habits, please consult a doctor.