One of the minor dangers of seasonal transitions is being under-dressed and getting chilled, then catching a cold. Or worse, being under-dressed, sweating upon exertion, then becoming chilled, and catching a cold. Or you were sitting in a draft. Or someone behind you sneezed and they were in a contagious state. These are examples of an external Wind attack.
A Wind attack means symptoms come on quickly. Wind symptoms can include a scratchy or sore throat, fever, body aches or chills and fatigue. Acupuncture points located around the neck and shoulders often have Wind in their names, because according to acupuncture theory these points are where Wind can penetrate our defenses. Here are five points in the vicinity of the neck that illustrate this: Gall Bladder 20-Wind Pool, Du16-Wind Palace, Small Intestine 12-Holds Wind, Urinary Bladder 12-Wind Gate, Triple Burner 17-Shielding Wind.
Because the neck is vulnerable to Wind attacks, acupuncturists often advise wearing a scarf or hoodie to keep the neck covered. For this reason, I always have a scarf handy when riding in a car or airplane, or sitting in a lecture, to protect myself against drafts.
A few nights ago, I could feel my throat starting to tickle. I could feel a tiny ache in my shoulders and was feeling unusually tired and dull at 9:30 p.m. Hmmm, something’s not quite right; I concluded I was in the early stages of a Wind attack.
In years past, I might have muscled through it; sometimes we have no choice. But there are usually a few steps we can take at the initial stages of a cold, and my first bit of advice is to go to bed as early as possible.
Many of us are chronically sleep-deprived, which is bad for both brain and body. So I went to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and the next day slept in an hour later. I’ve continued to go to bed earlier than normal and sleep a little later since then. If your schedule is less flexible, then consider napping sometime during the day, or just sitting with your eyes closed for a bit. Better yet, put yourself in a great restorative yoga pose. Viparita Karani is one of my favorites from my days as a yoga teacher. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/legs-up-the-wall-pose/
This is a good pose to practice anytime you are feeling tired (particularly during a late-afternoon slump, or if you have a challenging deadline and need a non-caffeinated refresher). Stay at least 13-15 minutes, but listen to your body for your optimal time in the pose.
Next, I reach for a throat-soothing tea (Throat Coat or Throat Comfort), maybe with a little honey. I might add a dropperful of liquid herbs for more potency. I’ll probably have several cups of tea throughout the day and evening.
Spring mornings, while lovely, are cool. I have heard many comments about how our homes are cooler inside than the temperature outside. Thus the occasional need for a scarf indoors, as well as outdoors.
It’s been three days now, and my symptoms haven’t progressed beyond a throat tickle and fatigue. So I’m keeping up with more sleep, more rest in the evenings and tea. I know these symptoms will recede in a few days as long as I take care of myself.
Looking back it was probably was a chilly breezy morning walk that brought on a throat tickle. I will resume my morning walks, but will dress warmly and keep my throat wrapped. Being out on a sunny day and walking for an hour helps with everything. Sun provides Vitamin D, which supports the immune system. Moving the arms and legs stimulates breathing, burns calories and keeps your mind flexible. It’s hard to stay mentally stuck while you’re actually in motion. It’s a great time to listen for bird-song, to spot local wildlife, see what flowers are in bloom, and maybe even run into a friend who is out walking their dog.
In most cases, sleep, tea and a sunny walk will have me feeling better in just a few days. Then I can continue to enjoy the unfolding of Spring!
oh sleep! glorious sleep! 🙂 loved the post and will need to try out some of the tips you have mentioned to help
Sandy KS says
I have to say I found all this very interesting to read. I never heard of a wind attack before. Now I know to be more aware. Thank you.
Alice Gerard says
I’m always cold so I wear scarves and layers all winter. I’d never heard of a wind attack but it makes sense, especially for people who feel cold constantly.
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. says
I tend to be cold as well, and am not shy about using my car’s seat heaters to take off the chill. At home, a hot water bottle on the soles of my feet or on my low back will make a big difference. In my clinic, I might add moxibustion -a therapeutic heat- to your acupuncture treatment. I hope summer finds you feeling warmer and more comfortable!
First time, too, to hear about wind attacks. I have to say I am prone to these attacks. I easily get colds and coughs when somebody sneezes from behind or just near me.
I have to agree that lack of sleep can worsen the condition. Sadly, I cannot go to bed early because I am not used to it. I will end up lying on the bed watching TV or reading a book until past 11 pm or so.
Thanks for the tips. Will use some of them!
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. says
At least you are resting in the evening. Perhaps instead of TV, you could take a hot bath which might relax you and then make it easier to fall asleep. I hope you stay well this Spring!