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The Practical Herbalist

Cold Shoulders

The ancient medical texts of China, warn of the dangers of wind. Wind, particularly cold wind, was seen as potentially very damaging to the body, and the source of sickness and muscle pain. We know from modern science that wind does not cause infections or muscle pain. However, from a broader view of the situation, cold wind can provide a very real stress on the body that weakens the immune system allowing an infection to take hold. Cold wind can also cause us to "hunch up" the shoulders causing tightness and spasms in the muscles of the upper back. Tightening of these muscles can cause headaches, neck pain, and a feeling of overall body stiffness.

Traditional treatment of these types of conditions included herbal formulas that were warm and dispersing. Taken at the early onset of a common cold, they can relieve the symptoms and speed the recovery from the cold. Body aches often accompany the common cold, and so these same formulas are often used for acute muscle and body aches, regardless of the presence of an infection. Treatments traditionally included therapies like cupping and gua sha, which are manual massage techniques used to release the muscles of the upper back.

One would think that with our modern temperature controlled cars, homes and offices, that the effects of wind would not be a major concern. The common modern version of the wind problem is a direct result of office desks placed under air conditioning vents. Constant cold air moving across the back of the worker can lead to tight shoulders. Work stress, combined with tense shoulders, from air conditioning and computer work, as well as close contact with sick coworkers, creates an environment that promotes colds and tight shoulders. This is especially true in the heat of summer when the office worker sits out in the hot sun for lunch and then gets a blast of cold air upon returning to the desk. Redirecting air conditioning vents or moving a desk, can be a very cost effective way for businesses to help their workers stay healthy, productive and avoid the problems associated with a cold wind.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066